Leadership / 07.27.21
With Live Events Back on, Patron Technology Is Ready to Serve Patrons Again
So many venues, event organizations, and ticketing and technology companies are emerging from the worst restrictions and business limitations of the pandemic that I’m surprised not one of them has paid for the rights to have Gloria Estefan’s “Coming Out of the Dark” be their new advertising jingle. So many finally see the light now. So many recognize the love … the love of live entertainment and sports fans that will hopefully save them.
One such company is Patron Technology, which specializes in helping live event organizers create better experiences for their attendees and deeper relationships with their sponsors via its data-driven event technology solutions. Patron Technology is one of those firms that planned ahead while the COVID-19 crisis was raging for the eventual uptick in business that has come with increased vaccinations and loosened restrictions.
“The most important step we took was to recognize the pandemic for what it was — something that would slow down and change our industry for an extended period of time — and adjust accordingly,” says Doug Lyons, the company’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. “Two critical parts of that recognition were adjusting the size of our company to match a lengthy slowdown to our core businesses and pivoting to embrace virtual events quickly to enable us to continue to serve our existing and new customers in the changed environment. We were early in launching our gated live streaming service and worked hard to launch companion products such as virtual meet-and-greets to continue to push our industry forward.”
Amy Mrazek, Vice President of Marketing, says, “We also keyed in early on the fact that some event organizers were going to have to use online ticketing for the first time. Our [do-it-yourself, or DIY] ticketing platform, TicketLeap, is a great option for those new to ticketing their events. As a result, we rapidly redirected our resources — financial and human — to fuel our marketing efforts for that platform. And we saw remarkable results.”
Now, much of the population is indeed getting vaccinated, and more and more live events are back on. Accordingly, Patron Technology is re-gearing for people to resume buying tickets again in larger numbers.
Lyons was quick to point out that his company doesn’t just offer ticketing services. “Our mobile and experiential products had a surprising level of activity during the pandemic,” he says, “and we integrated these tools with our virtual offerings to help our clients engage with their customers throughout the months of shutdowns and restrictions. Many of these clients are now full speed ahead with planning and putting on their in-person, virtual and hybrid events since many communities are allowing larger gatherings.”
Mrazek says that she and her colleagues are seeing ticket sales today near or, in some cases, exceeding 2019 levels. So, the “Big Reopening” is already happening for several Patron Technology’s clients. “Many events are on sale now, which puts us in the desirable position to be able to rapidly hire new team members across the board,” she says. “We’re focused on growing our team and supporting our clients through their reopening and beyond.”
Patron Technology spent quite a bit of time, resources and energy early in the pandemic planning for a post-pandemic world and what that world would look like for live events. Lyons says that this led the team to begin working with oft described “health validation vendors” on “partnerships that will enable us to quickly help our clients when reopening depends on COVID-19 tests or vaccination status. While this is starting to become a more real option in some markets, we continue to think creatively about how things will continue to change — especially in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases due to variants — and prepare for helping our industry meet any evolving requirements.”
In terms of new technology or innovations that have emerged from this time, Mrazek says that timed entry ticketing and capacity control became particularly important during the pandemic’s periods of restriction. “We were lucky that our products already had these features,” she says. “Not only were exhibits and attractions using timed entry, other venues and events were using it to help control the flow of traffic into their spaces. Also, virtual is here to stay. The expanded audience reach and increase in sales when paired with a live event is unmatched. Organizers can continue to serve both their local audiences as well as audiences all over the world with the same event.”
Both she and Lyons concur that the period from March 2020 until now has been the most challenging time of their careers. Mrazek came to Patron Technology in the fall of 2018 after serving more than five years at ShowClix. For his part, Lyons held senior management roles with such major ticketing companies as Paciolan, SeatGeek and Tickets.com before coming aboard at Patron Technology in January 2020.
Mrazek says among her biggest challenges has been “operating a business with our breadth of offerings — numerous products serving many different verticals — with fewer resources and staff. Much of what we do as an organization still needs to be supported, pandemic or not. So, we all had to re-prioritize, back-burner a few projects and really rely on one another for support across departments. I’m very proud of how dedicated our team stayed during this time as we were asking a lot from them.”
Lyons agrees, adding, “Our people are live event fanatics. That’s a huge reason most of us work in this business. So, not having live events proved to be very difficult to bear. Society at large obviously felt that way, as well. But for those of us who are involved day in and day out with the amazing content our clients provide, we felt the void more than most. So, we constantly evaluated our efforts to keep the team motivated and looked for new ways to interact with one another from our homes.”
Now, both executives are looking to the future with hope and optimism. “I have a strong finance background, as well as a marketing one,” Mrazek says. “So, I’m very data and numbers driven. The numbers certainly point to a strong future. The data is also showing that it doesn’t appear to be just a short-term reaction to pent-up desire for events. It seems to reflect a renewed value of live experiences. During the pandemic, we were stuck at home with all our Amazon orders, but that didn’t fill the human need for interaction and engagement. People are coming back to live events to improve their quality of life.”
“The clear desire for live entertainment has not changed,” Lyons says, “and the adjustments we made for COVID-19 actually pointed us in new directions that continue to grow and expand. Big league sports — who we work with for their fan engagement events — are putting increased focus and investments into events and tools to interact and connect with their fans. Other large presenters, such as wrestling promoters and fandom conventions, are actively pushing hybrid events where the in-person element is enhanced with virtual components. The virtual versions are staying not because of a pandemic, but because the experience is better than the ‘old way.’ For example, virtual meet-and-greets enable far more fans from anywhere in the world to have better access to a more personalized experience that old ‘step-and-repeat’ lines at in-person events. The talent overwhelmingly love the tool, as well. We see this combined world expanding demand and activity in the space beyond where it was before COVID-19.”
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Tags: Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus , Reopening