Stronger Venue, Patron Affinity - Part 2
In part 1 of 'Stronger Venue and Patron Affinity', we asked if it is possible for venue owners and event organizers to enrich the relationships they have with their patrons to provide a better experience and improve ticket sales. In part 2 we look at some very specific examples currently being used.
Why do we blog this? Being in the business of events means the venue owner or event promoter is uniquely positioned to benefit from a close association with patrons. The idea of having close ties with your patrons is a win-win for all since it can cause patrons to become sales agents via word of mouth recommendations to their friends.
Me So Hungry
In Austin, Texas, popular food trucks Me So Hungry and Arlo's reside within the confines of the venue Cheer-up Charlies. The benefit of this is the venue defers the cost of serving food to the 3rd party food truck operator, while utterly delighting patrons with delicious food. Since one must be inside the club in order to get the food, the venue inherits the patron delight.
Where having specialty food service on-premise isn't feasible, venues may be able to schedule catering and have it part of early admittance ticket or in a sectioned off VIP area. This “early bird gets the worm” incentive can be part of a larger strategy to increase patron affinity.
The specialty foods can be for all patrons, some getting to eat for free with a rewards program, the rest paying some nominal amount for it. Gate efficiency comes into play here, since the more time event patrons spend inside the venue, the more time they have to eat (aka spend money) whatever specialty craft food are being provided.
The proverb “The way to a person's heart is through their stomach!” immediately comes to mind - Everyone loves to eat, so making food part of the incentive is nearly an assured way to bind the ticket buyer closer with the event or venue.
VIP For Life
The most popular West Coast music festival, Coachella, has several different initiatives for enriching the relationship between event and the ticket-buyer, one of which is their "secret spotter". In the initiative, event representatives look for people who are carpooling to the event and at random give VIP status for life to the winners. From the Coachella website:
[Our] secret spotter will be out at the parking and camping entrances watching people drive in. At random times, random cars with 4 or more people with a CARPOOLCHELLA on their dash or written on their car will be approached and might possibly win a VIP ticket/pass for life starting in 2013 or one of the other prizes drawn randomly.
Coachella's enrichment of affinity is part of an often underutilized aspect of an event - transportation.
The use of so-called "party vans" is pervasive in cities like Las Vegas. Party vans to and from a venue can be centered around the local college or sister-venue under the same ownership effectively making for a "pub crawl". The party van can easily be made a value add to any event ticket or as this series of posts suggests a very powerful way to increase venue-patron affinity.
How the party van becomes an extra is entirely open. One could set it as a premium upgrade to all ticket purchases, then establish a threshold for returning patrons to get the upgrade for free via a coupon. The cost of having the party bus service can be amortized when it is available to everyone, some paying for the privilege, others getting it for free as a reward for visiting frequently.
Plot Your Escape
On a much more sophisticated level than Las Vegas party vans is Caesars Palace's 'Rewards Program' and how it is promoted via Twitter.
Outlined in a recent case study was Caesars Entertainment Corporation's 'Plot your Escape' promotion that was a very high tech series of social media communications with would be patrons. The 'Escape' promotion was spread across Twitter by the concert artists themselves. Artists' tweets encouraged fans to shake off their daily routines and “escape” by planning to attend one of four concerts in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York - all of them being Caesar's Entertainment events.
The scope and scale of Caesar's effort to bind themselves with their customers is impressive and so was the return on their investment. The director of new media at Caesars Entertainment, Eric Petersen, explains:
The day before the concerts, we were able to drive an incredible amount of brand conversations because Twitter users were retweeting the celebrities and spreading our message for us.Twitter also helped us extend the live concert experiences beyond the physical location and deliver on our brand promise to bring unique entertainment experiences to consumers.
Of course not all venues or events have a huge budget like Caesar's, but you can configure a similar program by reading the case study and tailoring to a scale that works for you. Our spotlight posts on various venues who use social media well is also a good place to find inspiration.
Early bird gets the worm admittance, VIP party buses, and rewards programs promoted via social media all have one thing in common - they all originate with the event ticket. The very first place to start enriching the relationships you have with your patrons is inside the online ticketing software you use.
In addition to customized ticket packages and VIP incentives, a ThunderTix account has advanced sales reporting tools to show you the benefits of the closer patron relationships have to your bottom line.