Talking Tickets 3 July 2020–Brokers! Broadway! Business! And, More!

Hey There! 

Thanks for being here again this week. If you are enjoying this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues to sign up by visiting this link. 

The 4th of July weekend is upon us in the US. And, we’ve reached the halfway point of 2020. Let’s hope the second half of the year is a little brighter than the first. 

No Happy Hour tonight because Ken wanted to drive and go to the mountains, fresh air and outdoors…hippie! Wait!? I’m jealous!? We will be back next week…so don’t worry. 

Drop me a note and let me know what you like about the newsletter or if you want to chat through your strategy going forward. I’m around and I am here for y’all. 

We do a Slack group as well and we’ve been chatty this week. So come join us! 

To the tickets! I’m fired up this week! 

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1. Broadway shows will be shut through the end of 2020: 

Unfortunately, I think we knew that this was coming, but it still sucks. 

Couple this with news that MLB won’t be sending players to play minor league games this year, ending the hopes of a MiLB season and it is just a sad, bad week for a lot of folks. 

From my conversations around the industry, things could get even worse over the next few weeks, especially in the States where the government’s PPP program is going to start winding down and an uncertain future for any additional stimulus package from Congress. 

We’ve seen layoffs and reshaping of business offices in a bunch of places around the world with folks worrying that things will get even worse

I mentioned to my friend this week, it is often a struggle for me to write or do some of these things when things are going in the wrong direction because I am not one to lie to y’all and I’m not one to be a downer. But this week, I think we have to prepare ourselves to deal with situations we were hoping might never come. 

I don’t always have a shared theme to the newsletter, but this week I do think there is a theme: rethinking and reinvention.

We are going to be fighting for our businesses and our livelihoods from now until the pandemic ends and the economy recovers. 

I’ve talked about the way this crisis plays on many aspects of our society from the mental issues, to financial, to health. Understanding that should point us towards the realization that things aren’t just going to snap back into the way they were before the pandemic. 

Like I mentioned in Sydney in November, change is certain. The only thing in question is how you deal with it. 

I titled the talk, “The Courage to Change” and I admitted that saying you needed the courage to change was a lie because change is happening right now, no matter what. But the secret I shared was that you don’t need the courage to change, but you do need the courage to act. 

So let’s look at some actions we can take:

First, if you are overwhelmed by everything right now…it sounds simple, but take a second to catch your breath. My friend, Dee, is a yoga teacher in London and she has been doing some Instagram videos and digital things to help folks deal with their stress and get themselves to relax, even if for only a second. 

Do it!

I’ve made my worst decisions and mistakes when I haven’t had forced myself to take the time to clear my head and recalibrate. My friend, John, posted on Twitter today that we don’t need a break for the holiday during WFH, but I’d argue we need a break more than ever. 

Second, take a few moments today or over the weekend to do a quick strategic check-in with yourself: 

* What’s the challenge I’m really dealing with?
* How am I going to tackle it?
* What actions am I going to take? 

Finally, I’ll make this offer to you.

Anyone that wants to set up a free 30-minute call with me to go over your strategy, to talk through the next steps for you or your organization, or figure out how to refocus during the pandemic can just email me and let’s talk. 

Share this offer anywhere you want. Whatever I can do to help get the industry back on its feet, I’m game and I want to add value and be of service! 

P.S. There are tons of resources available to all of us, including:

INTIX 
Ticketing Professionals Australia
Ticketing Professionals (OG)
The ALSD
We Will Recover
Eric Fuller‘s Rescue Meet
* The NATB
NIVA

Use one of these or all of them…just make sure you find a way to take positive action! 

2. Redefining the secondary market after the coronavirus is going to be a huge lift: 

The article in the headline is interesting but I’m not sure I learned anything that was particularly new or surprising, but it isn’t every day you see the word folly used in an article. 

The secondary market is going to change. It was headed in that direction before the pandemic. Those changes are likely just accelerated by the pandemic. 

From what I’ve been noticing, I think we are going to see three things take hold in the next months and years in the secondary market:

First, relationships are going to take on new relevance. 

To be fair, I did a webinar with the NATB, on the day the BOTS Act was signed into law, that told brokers to stop trying to hide and to get into the relationship business.

So my schtick on this isn’t new.

If you don’t have any relationships, I think you are going to find your business opportunities shrink as technology becomes better and more capable of stopping buyers that the primary side wants to be limited to be denied tickets. Due to the pandemic, inventory is likely going to be less available in the short-term as well. Plus, our customers’  buying habits were already changing and that’s likely to continue. 

Second, attendance and revenue have been shown as even more important.

Real attendance was declining in many places before the pandemic. 

We can only see the tickets distributed numbers so many times and hope that folks believe them before we realize that folks aren’t buying that or a lot of other stuff we are selling. 

On top of that, after the pandemic started and MLB was getting into the negotiations with their player’s association, we saw reports that teams were getting somewhere between 40-70% of their revenue from having fans in the stands. 

Which offered up the question: if attendance and having fans in the stands is so important, why have teams been so reluctant to innovate in their sales and marketing efforts or look for new ideas and voices?

Third, the business model of being a broker is likely going to need to change because the platforms have changed their business model and it seems unlikely that they will switch them back anytime soon.

But you also have to ask the question does the consolidation model work in the new reality we will deal with?

Will customers trust buying tickets on the secondary market? Or, even the primary market, since everyone has changed their refund policies during the pandemic….and most of the time for the worse from the fan’s POV. 

Looking at the way that the pandemic economy has accrued gains to the largest businesses, we have to wonder whether or not Live Nation comes out of the pandemic stronger than before and what will that do to the business model of everyone

Three things for brokers and folks that are going to work with the secondary market to think through heading into whatever the recovery of live events ends up looking like:

1. What is our strategy? What specific challenge do we solve? How do we propose to resolve it? What actions can we take now? 

2. What will my priorities be going forward? 

3. Who do I need to know or establish relationships with to be successful?

This is what I’ll be discussing with Corey Gibbs, Patrick Ryan, and Ken Solky about during the NATB’s virtual conference on 14-15 July as well. Sign up! It is free! 

From my point of view, the secondary market is the most likely candidate for a radical change in business on the other side of the pandemic. So the time to take action and get creative is right now. 

3. How are organizations in different parts of the world dealing with the pandemic, their staff, and their fans?

I keep coming back to the Stockdale Paradox when I see articles like this because the reality is that we don’t really know when things are going to be able to return to anything resembling normal. 

As mentioned above we’ve also reached a point in the pandemic where a lot of the emergency relief that governments gave businesses and people is starting to or about to start shrinking or ending. So this is going to put businesses in much more stressful situations. 

That’s opening up a lot of examples of how organizations around the world are dealing with the different parts of their business from their fansto their staffs, to planning for the future

The story at the top is pretty awful. 

I’ve heard rumors about these types of cultures in businesses in many industries. The thing that sets me off is that, as I’ve talked about many times before, so many of these kids and folks are in abusive relationships with their organizations and they aren’t always even being given the skills they need to be successful in getting a strong start in their careers.

This is something I went over with several people on the podcast, but maybe the only person that gets as worked up about this as me is Tony Knopp.  

In general, I think the sales culture at a lot of American sports teams is broken and change is going to have to come or we are going to continue to see tons of empty seats, but that’s for another day. 

As for making folks sign waivers to come to games, either games are safe or they aren’t…just like I said above. But if you are so worried about the games that you are making folks sign waivers, maybe you should consider the strategy of having folks in the stands. 

Nothing is 100% safe about life and we all have to make money, but it really frustrates me that we’ve created this environment where we treat people as disposable and/or just numbers on a spreadsheet that only mean something in regards to their ability to make us money or help us meet our goals. 

I’ve got a really great podcast guest lined up for next week and we were chatting in the pre-interview today about putting people first and how to lead through this crisis. I can’t find the article, but Mark Ritson wrote about the amount of goodwill that your brand can accrue from doing the right thing in a crisis. The opposite impact can happen as well. 

So as you read the story about the Rangers or the NFL’s waiver to fans, think about what you want people to remember about you when this crisis is over and whether or not your actions reflect that. 

4. Is it even safe for sports to come back in their bubble?

We’ve seen MLB players start to return for “Summer Camp” this week; pictures of what the NBA’s bubble is going to look like; and more details of other leagues return to play programs. 

At the same time, we are seeing States around the US start to see exponential growth in coronavirus cases; cases in Victoria forcing the AFL to reschedule games; and, China having a bit of an uptick in cases that didn’t shut the economy down but did slow it. 

Those are the questionable cases because we’ve also seen the Bundesliga come back pretty well and right now the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A are also doing a good job of bringing back their games as well. 

All of us, reading this newsletter are obviously more heavily invested in the return of sports and entertainment than most people and we all should recognize the financial implications driving some of this decision making. 

But we also have to be conscious of the security of the players, the staff, and the folks that are supporting these games and the reality is that in the States getting all of these games in will be difficult because we are seeing uncontrolled growth of the virus in a lot of States. 

This is where the need for accurate data, clear communication, and a solid national plan would make bringing back games safer and more likely not to be disrupted again. 

Do I have an answer on whether things are safe or not? 

No. 

I do recognize that we have to manage risk and recognize that everyone is going to have a different risk profile and act accordingly. Which is something we need to continue to remind ourselves daily these days, I think? 

5. Is going back to normal really something to aspire to? 

Ian Taylor sent me the above post and it is a doozy. 

I have to say that some of these things I had been thinking about before the pandemic began and the pandemic accelerates when or how some of these things will impact all of our businesses. 

This week has been about rethinking our businesses and taking action no matter what. 

As Karl writes about the arts being broken in many ways before the pandemic, we are all dealing with a need to question the basic assumptions that our businesses were founded on. 

If we are going to have to put our businesses back together, what do we want them to look like? 
What do we want to keep?
What do we want to discard?
What worked for us?
What maybe wasn’t working for us? 

This is the key question we are all dealing with right now and it is important that we spend the time and energy to make sure we ask the right questions and get the right answers. 

Remember, up top, I gave you a bunch of organizations that are great resources. Don’t go through this alone! 

As it is the 4th of July in the States, I’ll leave you with FDR’s inaugural address where he says, “the only thing you have to fear is fear itself.” In a time of great uncertainty, FDR’s words message of action and overcoming fear may be useful. 
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What am I up to this week? 

New podcast with Phil Hanson from Queue-It this week. We recorded this the day before the coronavirus got real with Donald Trump’s address to the nation from the Oval Office and the NBA postponing the season. The technology they offer has become even more valuable and has found utility in areas outside of entertainment. So check it out. 

Keep an eye on my website at www.davewakeman.com and Booking Protect‘s site. I’m going to be sharing a few new things I’m up to next week and I’ve got some really great podcast guests lined up for next week as well. 

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