Leadership / 05.07.19
Ticketing Professionals See Opportunities for Eliminating Anonymous Attendees
Eliminating anonymous attendees has emerged as a top objective for many in the ticketing industry in 2019. Some believe sophisticated mobile tickets and possibly even increased regulation of the secondary market will address the issue. But what exactly is the issue? What — or rather who — are anonymous attendees?
Tina Martin, Chief Information Officer for International Speedway Corporation (ISC), was able to provide some insight into this topic.
“Anonymous attendees are attendees we cannot specifically identify. As an example, we know who the ticket purchaser is. We probably have quite a bit of information about this person, such as name, address, email address and years of purchase. However, when they buy multiple tickets, we do not gather the information on the other attendees.”
Offering her own take is Michelle Paul, Managing Director of PatronManager, a service that provides ticketing, subscriptions and email marketing on the Salesforce platform.
“Broadly speaking,” Paul says, “anonymous attendees are people who attend an event without their own name on their ticket or associated with their order. This might be because they’re a friend’s ‘plus one,’ or because they were given a ticket by someone else, or because they purchased the ticket on the secondary market without a connection back to the original seller.”
In the arts world, Paul adds, she and colleagues sometimes call such people “phantom subscribers.” She credited her colleague Allison Klein for coining the term in a company blog post back in 2011.
“Arts attendance — all live event attendance, really — is a highly social experience. Most ticket or subscription purchases have a quantity of at least two, because people don’t, generally, attend alone. They bring their friends or family. But, most of the time, only the buyer’s name gets attached to that ticket order. That means that for every ‘real’ attendee, you’ve got a ‘phantom’ tagging along. This is someone who’s having an experience with your organization but who’s lost to you afterwards.”
As a result, there are inherent opportunities with anonymous attendees that many venue operators, event organizers and the like are missing.
“Successful event marketing is all about building relationships. Your goal is to get a first-time attendee to come back, to come a third time, to become a subscriber and to bring their own friends along next time. Say your venue has 1,500 seats. Even in a sold-out house, if half the attendees tagged along with a friend and are thus missing from your records, you’re not going to be able to communicate with them and bring them along on that journey.”
Martin agrees, adding, “Identifying these attendees [could] help us provide offers and experiences that may be valuable to them. … The advantage of knowing your attendees is the ability to elevate their experience by providing them with personalized information that pertains to them and not necessarily the ticket purchaser.”
Certainly, an organization such as ISC, which owns and/or operates more than a dozen of the country’s major motorsports entertainment facilities, is aware of the opportunities — whether missed or otherwise. Martin and the ISC team promote more than 100 racing events a year, and she is responsible for all technology services provided to ISC.
Fortunately, there are technological advancements now available to cut down on anonymous attendees, as Martin notes.
“Digital tickets have helped reduce the anonymous attendees by providing a seamless, easy ticket purchasing experience,” she says. Paul agrees.
“The best tech advancements are the ones that make it easy and valuable for people to share their information voluntarily,” Paul says. “First of all, every online ticket buyer is automatically more valuable than the one paying cash at the door. That’s because online, you have a built-in opportunity to collect their information right away.”
She continues, “With some ticketing systems, you can also ask or even require people to give their friends’ names/info during the ticket purchase process, but that’s not the only option. In fact, it can be more effective to ask later, with a stronger incentive — ‘give us your email address, and you’ll get something in return.’ This can be as simple and old-school as an email newsletter signup kiosk. But there are more and more fancy and exciting ways to build on this idea with interactive experiences within the venue itself. Everyone loves a lobby photo booth, for example. And that can be a great way to collect otherwise-anonymous attendees’ contact information. After all, how else will they get access to their pictures?”
So, where is the ticketing industry headed in this regard? Both ticketing professionals had strong opinions when asked.
“Our attendees are changing, and I believe they will dictate how fast technology changes this industry,” Martin says. “As daily processes continue to be enabled by technology, this will change how our industry and how we look at our attendees and their needs.”
Paul, meanwhile, hopes that organizations will get better at using the information they already have. She concludes, “The troubling thing is that even when an organization has the data — the name, the email, etc. — about a patron, they don’t always manage to make effective use of it. We still have a bad habit of sending out mass, untargeted communications that turn people off because they don’t feel seen. There’s a huge opportunity there!”
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Tags: Digital Marketing , Arts , Consumer Behavior