Talking Tickets 20 November 2020: Audiences! The Masters! Brokers! And, More!

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Hey There! 

How’s everyone holding up out there? If you are struggling or just need a proper chat, send me a note. I’m around. As I’ve attested recently, having a chat with my buddy, Cat, a few weeks back really helped me. 

You can also find folks in the Talking Tickets Slack group that are supportive and friendly. 

Whatever you do, don’t feel like you have to get through this thing by yourself. 

BTW, Happy Hour tonight! 

To the tickets!

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1. What will the future of live performances look like?

I dig it. 

People in the arts can learn a lot from sports folks and vice versa. 

This article is great because it highlights a few things that we should all be paying attention to like investing in our audience, combining the best of multiple medias makes sense, and getting together to experience something with a group of strangers is magical. 

Let’s look at each of these things quickly to gain some insight on how to act. 

First, investing in your audience is a key. 

I’ve been railing about this for a long time but for far too long, the audience has been neglected. 

Sure, folks are doing social media or sending emails, but these things are often tactical and not driven with an eye on adding value to the customer, establishing a relationship that leads to revenue, and driving conversions. 

During the pandemic, we’ve seen how this lack of strategy and a bit of negligence in managing the relationship with the fan has come back to haunt folks because we are seeing teams, schools, and leagues lose millions and billions of dollars. 

My advice here is to start thinking about how to engage your audience starting right now by looking at the team or game through the eyes of your fans. 

What do they want or need? 

What do they value now? 

How can we help give that to them?

Second, let’s look at the multimedia experience. 

We talk apps, second screens, and all kinds of other digital stuff that ends up being non-sense. 

The point about multimedia experience is to keep folks immersed in your experience. There are tons of ways to maximize the share of attention your team or organization gets and a few good examples are the way that Chelsea has recreated their mobile experience using their app or following the example of my favorite, mindless American TV program, Love Island, who drove fans to their app to vote for dates, evictions, and other aspects of the show. All the while, using the app to drive people to their social media feeds, specifically Instagram and Twitter. 

The key is to think of each of these platforms or outlets as unique and understand how they fit into your strategy and move you towards your goals. 

Finally, getting folks back together. 

Can we put away the idea that demand is just going to snap back as soon as events are able to host people again?

That wasn’t true during the pandemic and it isn’t likely to be true after the pandemic. 

The reality is that we were seeing a lot of events struggle to draw folks in. 

We also recognize that people love people and want to get together with their friends, strangers, and colleagues. 

The two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. 

The challenge of getting folks to come back is going to require giving people a sense of security, providing them something that has the perception of value, and a rethinking of the nature of the relationship between ticket buyer and event. 

Let me explain, quickly. 

The lockdowns and restrictions we are dealing with aren’t killing businesses and live events, the fear of the virus is doing that job. So getting the virus under control and helping people feel a sense of security around going outside of their homes is going to be the key to getting things back to normal. 

Don’t believe me, believe McKinsey. 80% of Americans don’t go out and do things due to fear of getting sick. 

Remember rule one of marketing: you aren’t your market. 

The perception of value is going to play a bigger role in our ability to get folks to come to games, shows, and concerts for a number of reasons but the most likely one right now is a lingering economic hangover begun by the shutdowns we are dealing with, but added to by poor or mismanaged responses by governments around the world. 

So people are likely to find themselves being more judicious in how they spend their discretionary money. 

And, we have no way of knowing how much people’s preferences and buying habits will have changed due to the pandemic and whether or not those changes are permanent. 

The final piece is rethinking the relationship between buyer and product. 

This is about having a market orientation and looking at the value that is created for your fans through their eyes and not yours. 

After this whole thing is over, all signs are pointing to a need to rethink the way that business is done to give folks a chance to recover and re-establish their businesses. 

You aren’t going to be able to do that successfully by seeing things the way that you want to see things, you are going to need to see things through the eyes of your fans and take action based on what they want and not what you want. 

But…I’m a broken record on this stuff at this point. 

2. Premier League fans could return this year:

I read this and thought maybe it was from The Onion. 

Have I missed something? 

The United Kingdom is on lockdown until the beginning of December and that almost immediately after the Premier League is going to start hosting fans?! 

I’m doubtful. 

Y’all know that as much as I love my Alabama football, I also love Tottenham Hotspur and would love to get to a match at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

This isn’t going to happen. 

Another aspect of this piece that deserves a bit more attention and less joking is the nature of the relationship between the Premier League clubs and the sports’ lower levels. 

This matters because we are seeing how not paying attention to the sport consistently at the grassroots level hurt baseball and softball for years and turned into lower levels of attention years down the road. Or, how the Punt, Pass, and Kick contest provided some great brand building for the NFL.

Investment in youth sports and the lower levels of sports is important to build a fan base for the big league sports and can provide revenues across a lifetime. So keep an eye on these negotiations in the Premier League. 

3. The Masters, brokers, and The NY Times:

This year has been full of surprises and a big piece in The NY Times about the Masters and the brokers that sell tickets wouldn’t have been something I counted on seeing at the start of the year. 

But this piece brings a lot of things up that are important to pay attention to. 

First, the Masters’ very measured take on when fans will be able to return. 

Realistically, they are right. We don’t know exactly when things are going to be able to come back. So to try and just ram down best-case scenarios or wishful thinking isn’t going to do us much good. 

Second, distribution comes up again after last week’s rant on the topic. 

2,000,000 NFL tickets on the secondary market seems like a huge amount, but 600,000 is nothing to sneeze at. It comes out to around 2350 per NFL game. 

We have no way of actually knowing what the market for tickets will look like on the flip side of the pandemic, but I would say that if we see the numbers drift up from 600,000 that’s not a good sign and that if the numbers drift lower, that’s a good sign for the strength of the NFL. 

The same could go for any sports or events. 

Third, the story put a personal touch on some of the brokers. 

One of the funny things about hosting the podcast has been that folks have often gained a new perspective on the people in the secondary market. 

In a world that has gone topsy turvy, I think it is nice to see some people that I’ve known for years and that don’t always get positive press coverage get a little nod of recognition and attention for caring about the events that they are working on and the businesses that they run. 

Why?

Because coming out of this, the industry will need everyone’s best thinking to recover. 

4. A 2021 season without fans would be a killer blow to sports business:

Duh! 

We’ve learned a few valuable lessons this years: 

  • Sports without fans isn’t the same. 
  • You can’t just take the idea that fans will tune in and pay attention no matter what for granted. 
  • A lot of the businesses of the leagues and teams weren’t as stable as they seemed. 

I bring all of this up because John Wall Street posted a piece this week about the idea that with further lockdowns, owners may have to sell more limited partner shares

I’ll leave the finance stuff out of it today, but I will say that all of the challenges that confronted the live entertainment industry this year should have been a wakeup call for folks and have been pushing people towards an improved way of doing business. 

Sadly, I’m not sure if I have seen as much change as we should have expected. 

We haven’t seen nearly enough experimentation with ways to connect with fans, drive awareness and attention of games, and score new ways to deliver revenue to the clubs. 

This really comes down to the basic principles of marketing, especially market orientation. 

In the rush to get games back on the field, the biggest driver was making sure to keep the TV money locked in. 

A real concern, no doubt. 

But the bigger concern is that people aren’t tuning in and paying attention because if the eyes aren’t there, at some point the TV executives are going to stop paying the fees. 

There was this interesting Twitter thread I saw this week about how teams approach their sponsors. 

The unfortunate reality is that most teams don’t know who their customers are, really. They aren’t really in tune with the market. And, they’ve allowed or tried to off-shoot the basics of marketing: segmentation, targeting, positioning, and communications off to their partners for a long time. 

This is coming back to hurt folks now. 

I’m doing a program on the segmentation, targeting, and positioning during the National Sports Forum in December, BTW. 

I started to come up with a list of reasons that this period in time is dangerous for teams, leagues, and organizations that are hoping to bring back fans next year. But I don’t really need one. 

The situation is such that there needs to be experimentation in the way that folks are dealing with their customers and their markets, a emphasis on understanding where and what their customers want and need right now is the primary job everyone has, and rebuilding sales funnels for the many different ways that you can generate revenue should be an around the clock concern. 

On this last one, there are tons of ways to generate revenue that go outside of having fans in the building that haven’t been explored to any extent by most clubs. 

That’s not saying these things are easy to pull off. But I’m saying they are necessary to investigate and see if and how you can apply them to your organization. 

The other option is to just stick your head in the sand and hope things magically come back to normal. 

This applies to everyone that makes money selling tickets. 

There isn’t a magic bullet for any of us. But there are definitely opportunities to stabilize our businesses and put ourselves in a position to be successful as we emerge from the pandemic. 

5. Big Guns ‘n Roses tour announced for 2021:

As I’m always looking for an excuse to visit Australia, why not go to see Guns ‘n Roses next year. 

This isn’t the first huge concert announcement of 2021. 

Pearl Jam announced the rescheduling of their 2020 European tour, Wilco rescheduled their 2020 American summer tour, and a few other things have popped up. But this is the first one I really feel like has a chance to come off without too much difficulty. 

Watching the Southern Hemisphere deal with on-sales and events will teach us a lot of lessons because right now they are moving into their summer. So by the time they get to the next summer, we will potentially have a vaccine and a better grasp on the effectiveness of that and any mitigation practices. 

Right now, Australians and New Zealanders are experiencing some events with fans in attendance. It will be wise to pay attention to the things that work and where they struggle. 

It goes without saying that being on an island is helpful in situations like this. 

The bigger point is to keep an eye on the areas around the world that are testing things out and trying to reinvent their experiences and their businesses to meet the demands and changes that the pandemic have pushed onto us. 

Also, looking at the schedule…spending November in Sydney to see GnR on my birthday next year would be fun. 

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I’m here in DC! 

I’m watering my two plants and trying to get them proper sunlight. 

Get yourself some podcast episodes!

Check out Booking Protect with the fresh redesign! As we move through the pandemic to the other side, offering your guests the ability to have a refund or return option is going to be very important to giving folks the confidence necessary to buy tickets and plan for events. 

Visit the We Will Recover project! Great ideas and great content to help y’all recover from the pandemic.

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