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Tim Chambers Offers Up Some Ideas on the Future of Tickets!

1. The Big Story: Tim Chambers lays out the future of ticketing from his visits around the UK.

Big Ideas:

  • Having a pint with Tim Chambers is one of life’s true joys. The challenge is limiting it to a pint and not pints, dinner, and after dinner drinks. But I’ll take that challenge head on any time. 
  • There is no “New Normal”, cut out the crap. 
  • “Lost revenue” is a stupid way to frame what happened during the pandemic and the only worse way to approach whatever this is is by thinking about “clawbacks”. 

A few weeks back, I shared how I feel about Richard Howle and how excited I am to see him whenever I get the chance. 

This week, let me start by saying the same thing about Tim Chambers. 

When I was ill, Tim sent me a few nice notes and when I was in London we spent an afternoon and evening together along with the Stay22 gang. What a wonderful and thoughtful man. 

Now, let me look at his story…

I see five things in his story that I want to comment on. Tim is a keen listener and observer, so not all of these ideas are Tim’s but they represent the world around us all. 

Those five ideas:

  • “New Normal”
  • Event Congestion
  • Recession/Behavior Change
  • “Lost” revenue and “clawback”
  • Status Quo Bias

First, the idea of the “New Normal”. 

There is no “New Normal”, full stop. 

Have y’all looked around? 

How many numbers of challenges are we dealing with that aren’t clearly defined nor exist in a way that we have any sort of playbook or template for dealing with?

I’ve lost track frankly. 

I find “New Normal” to be some of the laziest and most dangerous kind of thinking because it signifies rushing back to some paint-by-numbers approach to business/life that isn’t going to happen. 

This is a period of “No Normal” and that means that we have to be ready, willing, and able to adapt quickly because we can’t be prepared well for any of the challenges that we are going to face. 

In my reading of the world, it is going to be many, many years before we see something that we can begin to define as “normal” and that has any hint of predictability. 

Two, event congestion is real. 

This makes the rush to the same old, same old so frustrating. 

What people are dealing with right now is akin to a bubble in the housing market or the stock market instead of a sustainable or realistic vision of what the future will look like. 

Once this backlog of events passes, how are you going to draw fans and customers into your building because they’ve used their credits, their postponed tickets, and all those other sweet things that are keeping things moving at an elevated clip?

Obviously, nothing since the market is “Supply Side” and you have no control over anything because the free hand of the market is king. 

Three, is the potential for a recession and behavior change. 

These are really two different issues. Behavior change was a guarantee after people were locked down and isolated for many months and we went through entire seasons where fans weren’t allowed into the building to see performances. 

Where a recession plays into this is that it is likely to go further in entrenching those behaviors that were adapted during the pandemic’s lockdowns to pull people further away from the venues and events that they might typically attend. 

The fourth idea of “clawbacks” and “lost” revenue are dangerous ideas in the same way that ignoring sunk costs are dangerous in any industry. 

This is much the same only different. 

Finally, “Status Quo Bias” as a challenge to overcome has been a topic I’ve dealt with a lot in talks publicly and inside organizations for a while now. 

In my special notebook that we’ve visited while I was on holiday, one of the ideas that I may have shared was the persistence of the past and the reliability bias that underlies almost everything too many organizations do. 

The persistence of the past means that we should be able to use our previous experience and analysis of prior data to make the best possible decision. 

On the side of the reliability bias, most organizations have a tendency to only take a “risk” if they know it will work. 

Both of these things are totally bogus, straw men arguments for the status quo. 

First, we are in the midst of a time of extreme volatility. This means that we don’t have much relevant experience to help guide us forward. 

Taking this further, this means that you base any decision on your analysis of past data at your own peril because we don’t have any stable models to base our decisions off of. 

Second, one thing I can guarantee all of you is that all data has happened in the past. This means that anytime you are making a decision based on historical data, you are making a bet based on the idea that the future will look like the past. 

That hasn’t turned out to be a good bet lately. 

More importantly, I do suggest you study the past, but you also have to have the courage to understand that any decision you are going to make going forward is built on your best guess of the future and looking for certainty in any decision is impossible. 

I’ve mentioned this concept of the analyst and the architect in passing before, but it is appropriate here again.

To be a good strategist, you need to look at the world through two eyes: one of the analyst and the other of the architect. 

The analyst looks at the data, the numbers, the cold hard facts. 

The architect takes all of that and uses creativity, an understanding of history, people, and psychology to create a future that might not be easily seen without really digging into the situation you are dealing with. 

Again, it isn’t either or…but both. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Remember the analyst and the architect. Cold hard facts are one thing, but that doesn’t eliminate creativity or people. 
  • Beware of the “Status Quo Bias”. No decision is going to be without risk. In this current environment, standing still is likely the most dangerous. 
  • No “New Normal” stop it! 
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