Janette spent the first week of April learning about the future of live entertainment ticketing at the Ticketing Technology Forum. Topics ranged from the customer path to purchase and finding and using data to discussing inventory management with hotel pricing experts.

What were the most interesting takeaways, other than yes, Guinness really does taste better in Dublin? Let’s hear from Janette herself:


“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”
– Ronald Coase

Data Collection on Broadway: Our friend Kyle Wright at the Shubert Organization (along with this cardboard cutout of David Andrews) talked about the future of natural language search as a tool. At Shubert, they use natural language search to more easily answer questions that relate to the new data they collected, like lottery entries, tweets, email opens, ticket purchase and Wi-Fi logins. There’s about to be a lot more data to torture.


Data collection in the UK: The Chief Data Scientist of Purple Seven spoke about the difference in value between demographic data and behavioral data. When we’re selling theatre tickets, do we want to know the zip codes of our patrons or their passions, interests and aspirations?  He described this difference as [the zip code model of ] “I am where I live,” the Amazon model of “I am what I buy,” and the Google model of “I am what I’m passionate about” (i.e., what I search for on the internet). No wonder I get so many cat-themed gifts at work.


“Pay Per Laugh” and Other Pricing Techniques
What’s the latest in ticket pricing?

Pay What You Can: The Arc Stockton Arts Centre does this for select performances (patrons make an anonymous donation after the performance) and increased audiences by 35% for the dates tested.  Funnily enough, using “shame tactics,” like showing how much others were paying didn’t increase the income for these performances.


Hotel Inventory Management: Hotels and airlines have been changing prices in response to demand for decades, so it was interesting to get their quick definitions and bits of wisdom.

  • Herding Effect – Showing buyers what others are doing (i.e., “Two others are looking at this performance.” – wouldn’t that be fun online?)
  • Anchor Effect – Presenting the highest price option first to drive excitement for the lower prices. When hotels present two prices, they find that people will choose the lowest. And if you present three prices, people will choose the middle. In theatre, of course, we find that people want the best seats or the lowest price.

They consider dynamic pricing to be a tool to find the right price for the right person at the right time. It’s about increasing attendance as much as it is about increasing individual prices.


Don’t Make Me Find the Bat: A Tale of Organizing Groups

This presentation by Make It Social garnered the most audience engagement of any session I attended. They’ve created a payment platform that can be plugged into existing ticketing systems where a buyer can put seats on hold for their friends, contact the friends through the program by email or SMS, and let everyone pay for their tickets individually on a timeline established by the venue (as little as an hour, as long as a month).

Remember when everyone thought we would be building groups through Facebook? They actually tested Facebook invites and it turns out I’m not the only one ignoring those notifications.

Much of Broadway’s group business is student groups, but once upon a time groups of friends or coworkers used to book group tickets to attend together and access a discount. Now those discounts are widely available to single ticket buyers, and collecting payment is easier thanks to Venmo and PayPal, but somebody is still stuck acting as the heavy with the baseball bat, begging friends to reimburse him for the tickets. Make It Social offers to turn the bat into a carrot. It’s easy for friends to add other friends to your group, and no one is at risk of getting stuck with an extra ticket.

This system works on an allocation basis (and it ties up live inventory), so it’s not coming to Broadway tomorrow.  But West End tests look promising!