customers

Who is responsible for delivering great customer service?

Every person working within your business has a stake in customer service, directly or indirectly.

It could be the people manufacturing your product or delivering your service. Maybe the front-line staff selling to your customers. Your complaints department supporting your customers. Your CEO at a conference. The marketing team responding on social media.

Everyone influences the ultimate experience the customer has with your business.

Customer service should be important to each and every person within your business

It’s important that this is a top down mantra, delivered from the senior team and flowed down through the business.

Building customer centric experiences at the core of your business leaves your staff in no doubt as to how important this is to their role.

The culture of strong customer experience should be an embedded one. You’re not just chasing good reviews (though this is a great way to build up brand positivity). You should genuinely care about your customers and their journey. This authentic way of thinking gives a business integrity – and your customers (and competitors) will notice.   

Incentivise your workforce to deliver positive experiences

A happy and motivated staff base will inevitably have a more positive outlook. They will have a great attitude towards their work and will deliver more for your customers. At Booking Protect all our customer service team have two main objectives – making the correct coverage assessment and delivering a five-star customer service.

This workplace culture then has a snowball effect. A great number of positive experiences drives a great number of positive reviews, further enhancing a positive perception of your business and driving customer growth.

Here at Booking Protect, 95% of customers give us 4 stars and above. Business has grown by more than 100% in the last 12 months, with most of our new partners now signing up due to a recommendation from another partner.

This shows the circle of positivity and how great experience isn’t just best for customers, but best for the business too.

Do you want to chat about developing your business’s customer service strategy? Get in touch with us on LinkedIn.

Everyone wants something unique…

At the heart of capturing opportunities in today’s consumer economy is the concept that everyone wants to feel like they are getting something unique.

This trend of personalisation is at the heart of a lot of sales and marketing processes, many driven by algorithms, but all aimed at giving folks something that no one else has.

It isn’t so much FOMO that has led us here, but the idea that technology has made it easier for people to self-identify in unique ways.

Think about it like this. When TV programming was limited and most viewers had three shows to pick from, it made a lot of sense for people to watch the same things or want similar things because the cost of not being or doing the same things as your neighbors was too high.

As we’ve reached the golden age of TV and it is easier to self-select programming and habits that narrower points of view, the idea that there is some huge mass of people watching one thing or participating in becomes a lot less realistic for a few reasons like we know the numbers of people watching, searching, or viewing something more accurately and because we can signal our unique perspectives more readily, people are showing how unique they are with more regularity.

That was a long-winded way of saying personalisation is a trend that we can use to sell more experiences. Here are a few ways to take advantage of that trend.

Allow customization:

Due to the nature of modern ticketing and Point of Sale systems, customization of a customer’s purchase is simpler than ever.

Most of the things that we can offer our guests can be added right at the point of purchase through a simple API integration.

The more challenging thing to figure out is how much or how little to offer our potential guests because as much as guests say they love choice, we also have consumer data that shows that offering too much choice often leads to consumers choosing not to purchase anything.

You may decide to offer a few simple customizations like the ability to buy parking in advance, pre-purchase an intermission drink, or offer refund protection.

But each organization is going to have to look at their experience and figure out what makes the most sense for their guests and their experiences.

Experiential upgrades:

On top of customization, you might allow people to upgrade their experiences.

This can happen in many forms like things people can purchase or things that are gifted to customers that do certain things.

You might allow your customers to buy a meet and greet with an artist or you might upgrade your guests from coach to first class depending on something unique or something that they do.

There are countless ways to take advantage of this, but the most important is that you want to give the air of allowing your guest to feel like this isn’t something that happens to many people, only a few.

Smaller events:

I remember seeing The Black Keys at a Super Bowl Party at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City the year the Super Bowl was in New Jersey.

The venue holds maybe 1,000 folks. This was a special party for CitiBank cardholders and it was cool because at the time the band was one of the biggest bands in the world, playing arenas.

It may not be feasible for you to get one of the biggest bands in the world to play a small intimate show, but a really great way to signal personalisation to your customers is by creating smaller events that limit the number of people and enhance the way that people engage with the event.

This might be a performance that is members’ only. You may do a special performance in a special location like Taylor Swift recently played in Central Park to just a few thousand fans.

You might curate a special tasting or session for a select group of folks.

All of these options and more are in play and can be created in a way that makes individual guest feel special and like an event has been created just for them.

Personalisation!

That’s a winner in today’s experience market and one we all need to take action on or, at least, offer in some small way because our guests are looking for it.

Sense of place is important

As the experience economy continues to grow in importance to consumers, an important aspect of the experience that can’t be neglected is the fact that during an experience guests want a sense of place.

This sense of place is important because it allows people to recognize that they are taking part in something that is one-of-a-kind, something that required a deal of thought, and something that isn’t likely to be repeated.

All of these can lead to wins for us and our events because they all capitalize on the idea of FOMO that seems to be on many marketers’ tongues currently.

Whether or not you believe in FOMO, there are some really great ways that you can take advantage of the trend of offering your guests a sense of place that will create a buying mood in your potential guests.

Here are three of my favorites:

Use location to your advantage:

Living in Washington, DC, you can take for granted the US Capitol, the White House, and all of the other monuments. But Nationals Park has found a way to incorporate them into the view when you are sitting on the second and third levels where the Capitol Dome peaks out and stares at you from the base of the Mall.

In Sydney, the Sydney Opera House’s Forecourt is one of the most spectacular event spaces in the world. Taking advantage of being on the Sydney Harbor and sitting in front of the Sydney Opera House provides visitors an experience that is breathtaking and unique.

If you want to see what this looks like in practice, search “The National Sydney Opera House” in YouTube and watch the full-length concert they broadcast from the Forecourt a few years back.

On and on these opportunities can go from concerts that take place underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Burning Man in the desert, or a football match at Wembley, all of these are iconic locations that can be used to amplify your event and give it a sense of place.

Bring in local touches:

Every time I am in Paris, I visit Notre Dame because I love the bakery that is next door to the cathedral. Since I was about 20 years old, I’ve been going there to get a Parisian hot dog.

Over the years, I have had the chance to visit many of Paris’s iconic restaurants and places, but the most Parisian thing in the world to me is the hot dog at the bakery next door to Notre Dame.

I bring this up because part of the sense of place is having something that you connect with a location.

Ask a New Yorker which deli they love the most and you’ll get any number of answers and all of them tell a story.

Same thing when you go to Miami and ask about the best Cuban food or craft beer, the answers will be varied and none of them are likely wrong.

This is at play all around the world too. No matter where you are holding your event, try and create some sort of association with the local community by bringing in some of those things that are unique and give your event that extra touch of place.

It doesn’t have to be food and drink either. You can also bring in designers, artists, and vendors from around the area to do something unique.

Expand your footprint:

I’ve run the NYC marathon 4 times. I lived in NYC so running the marathon was a natural thing.

The reason I bring this up is because the NYC marathon makes a point of having the race touch all five boroughs.

While your event might not have the footprint of the NYC marathon you can still use the concept of expanding your footprint as a tool to drive opportunities to create a unique experience.

Look at it like this, if you are hosting a road race, maybe you can create a guided tour or suggested sites to see. You might even be able to create partnerships with these venues and sites to give your guests a special perk.

You can also bundle packages with other events like if you are hosting a music festival and the local sports teams are playing at the same time or in the days that are around your event.

This can play out in any number of ways to partnering together with another event in town, restaurants, museums, or something unique.

The key is to be creative and give your guests a hook that signals to them that they aren’t just visiting a small event; they are visiting a destination event.

With a little thought, all of these ideas can come into play and create the opportunity for you to take advantage of the idea that people love to feel like they are doing something unique in a specific place.

FOMO may or may not be real, but doing the work to take advantage of it can be fun and profitable no matter what.

Read more about our 10 trends impacting the live entertainment industry here.

VIP & Exclusive experiences are more popular than ever

I can remember pretty vividly the first time I hear Tom Leykis talk about the lighting in a particular restroom at a luxury hotel in California making you look better than you ever looked before.

I’ve also seen the way that being whisked behind the heavy doors of a really exclusive resort like the Surf Club in Miami can make you feel like you’ve been let in on a secret.

This feeling plays out in nightclubs, at car dealerships, and in other places all over the world, all day long.

What this does is highlights the trend that people love and desire more exclusive and VIP experiences and that this trend shows no signs of letting up.

How can we take advantage of this? Let’s take a look.

Begin by defining what you want to create:

In working on projects with VIP brands and partners around the world, I recognize one important thing: you have to begin with the end in mind.

This is important no matter what you are creating because this is an important concept that everyone should use.

I use the simple question: “What will success look like?”

When you are thinking about maximizing the impact of a VIP or exclusive offering, you have to begin with that idea in mind.

Maybe you want to create something that only a dozen or a hundred people can experience like the global tours that the Four Seasons has created for their guests.

You might want something a little more open, but still exclusive like the way that American Express offers the Centurion Card to guests that fit a certain profile.

Taking this one step further, you might go the route of the Bonvoy Program from Marriott where you earn your way to more exclusive perks.

The key here is that when you are thinking about what to offer folks, you start by defining success.

Make your offering unique:

One of the challenges that many events and organizations face is that people want a VIP experience and something exclusive, but because everyone is doing something focused on exclusivity and the VIP experience, finding a way to stand out can come with a lot of difficulties.

This doesn’t mean you should give up on doing something unique or exclusive, but it does mean that you are going to have to work even harder to stand out in the world.

How do you achieve this?

Creativity is the first part of the mix.

Use your location by putting your event somewhere special like the Running of the Bulls.

Or, you can use the assets you have available to you like a venue like the Sydney Opera House has done with its props and materials gained from many years of events.

A second piece of the puzzle means you need to limit what you call exclusive or VIP.

One of the challenges that modern buildings may find themselves facing in years to come is that over the years the amounts of exclusive or VIP areas has expanded and without differentiation, they can feel less than exclusive.

This means that it is going to be imperative that everyone involved in the premium and VIP experience work even harder than ever to create something that feels special and exclusive.

This might mean restructuring some areas as is being done at venues around the US. It may be adding value in some way. Or, it could be something entirely different.

The key is to create exclusivity and limitations so that people feel like they are getting something that not everyone can experience.

A third key idea here is to make certain that people can’t get what you are offering everywhere.

This is the challenge that a lot of venues and events deal with all the time because they have to lay out their events, buildings, and stages in a similar fashion or do so because of best practices to the point that everything feels the same. This is where the idea of creativity comes into play and you need to use it effectively.

Constantly innovating the value proposition:

In ways big and small technology has changed our view of the culture we exist in and the way that we interpret premium quality or VIP experiences.

This change in perception requires a constant attention to reinvention and innovation in our offerings.

When I say innovation I don’t want to scare anyone off because innovations don’t have to be huge differences in the way that a business is run or the offer you make to your guests.

Innovation can be much simpler like renewing the space that you use, the food and beverage you serve, the level of service you provide, or the way someone experiences an event.

The challenge here is that you must constantly be on the lookout for ways to renew your experience. As an example, look at the Wynwood Walls in Miami, a great space dedicated to elevating street art. They are often bringing in new artists to refresh the space and create new installations so that the space is always fresh and people get a new experience.

This method plays out regularly with long running hit plays on Broadway and in the West End. Think about how often the lead changes in Chicago. Where a new star comes on board the cast regularly to keep the production fresh, to renew the experience, and to encourage people to come back and see the show again and again.

A final example here comes from the world of luxury and discretion, the Four Seasons has a airline and plans global vacation packages for their guests that they work on for years in advance with unique itineraries and experiences that are limited to a small group of VIP guests, with the exact locations and itinerary never to be repeated.

All of these examples are innovations and they can be replicated by you and your organization within the limits and the market you exist with a little creativity, focus, and thoughtfulness to how you want to create and deliver VIP events and exclusive experiences for your guests.

The only limit is your imagination.

While this may seem risky, the truth is not thinking about ways to offer your guests elevated, exclusive, or VIP experiences is something most organizations and events can’t take a risk on not doing.

Consumers buying power is changing

I was recently part of a Twitter interview and one of the things that came up was a question about pricing and market segmentation. This was interesting to me because I often feel like pricing is a big challenge for organizations because the pricing decisions can often feel less than scientific.

More important than a debate about the pricing dynamics is the trend that pricing and empty seats or full seats highlights which is that purchasing power for most income levels has changed a great deal over the past decade or more. This is impacting a lot of our ability to market and sell events effectively.

In 2019, the United Kingdom is set to see the lowest growth in consumer spending in six years due to a number of factors. In the United States, the 2020 presidential campaign seems to be setting itself up as a referendum of decades of growing income inequality. Globally, 58% of consumers feel like they are better off than they were five years ago.

All of this should signal for us that we have to take a different and varied approach to our consumers and how they are making their purchasing decisions.

What does this mean to all of us in the live event industry? Many different things, but here are three ways this trend is impacting us and how we can handle it.

The bell curve has flipped: It used to be considered a given that the bell curve had a huge hump in the middle where most of the market lived and purchased.

Now, the bell curve has flipped and the middle is a lot of times a wasteland for marketing and selling to consumers.

Where the margins are and the opportunities are in many cases are to the two extremes: with the commodity purchase or the premium purchase.

Some of the fastest growing areas in business are on those fringes where you see companies like Wal-Mart or Amazon working to deliver cheaper stuff faster to their customers.

Then you look to the other extreme and you see the market for premium cars growing, premium hotels becoming destinations more than ever, and VIP experiences being the centerpieces of many events and offerings.

How do we deal with this?

Well, we begin by understanding that the middle may not be the best place to try and position our experiences any more.

We can’t do average stuff for average people any more because the Internet has taught us all to expect more or less.

So design your experience with that in mind.

Offer a get-in price that everyone can participate in and that offers the experience at a base level, but also consider ways to take the experience to the other extreme with VIP areas, add-ons, party decks, or exclusive experiences.

Consumer’s discretionary income is challenged in many places: A dollar doesn’t buy what it used to is something we can say at almost any time in history and all nod our heads in unison. Because, inflation and purchasing power seem to always be changing.

Currently, in nations around the world, we are seeing consumer’s spending power slip due to increased costs associated with housing, food, health care, and other essentials.

What does this mean to all of us?

Well, it means we need to be considerate of the world that our customers live in.

This may mean offering up more lower or entry-level offerings to ensure that you have an event that has enough people to create the atmosphere or experience you want.

It can also make the idea of having multiple distinct offerings more important than ever before because we are likely appealing to two different edges of the bell curve now.

And, we likely need to think through how we can make our experience feel like a once in a lifetime opportunity for people to splurge on.

The key for all of us is to recognize that our consumers are making a choice that reflects their circumstances and those circumstances are changing in a lot of ways that we may not be considering right now.

Customers have more options: If there is a theme within a theme, this is it.

The most relevant idea to keep in mind is that as consumers are putting more value on experiences, we are finding that more people are creating experiences that they can offer to consumers to win their business than at any time in memory.

What can we do about this trend?

We have to begin by making certain that we are thinking about what we want our guests to experience when they visit us and work with us.

This likely means we need to be more thoughtful about everything we are doing and deliberate in creating an experience that is exceptional and speaks to our specific market.

Second, we have to recognize that because consumers have more options, it is going to be much more difficult to break through to these consumers and get their attention.

This means on top of being more thoughtful in the creation of an event, we have to get more creative in the way we market and sell our events so that we can break through the clutter of experiences that are trying to demand our market’s attention.

This may mean going to the extreme of using PR tactics like the way that the Warrington Wolves sent their mascot with binoculars to a rival’s match to “spy” on them as a way to draw attention to the Wolves. It could be creating an extremely diverse festival line-up like the Miami Beach Pop Festival. Or, it could be by wrapping yourself in discretion, mystique, and luxury like the Four Seasons.

The key is that as our market is getting more options and attention, we have to spend more time thinking about how we are going to make ourselves different.

The same goes for changes in spending power. As our customers see their financial lives change, we have to recognize that this is going to impact their buying decisions and we have to act accordingly to ensure we can still be competitive.

Consumers want diversity in experience

If you follow along with a lot of commentary, you’ll hear people talking about the “good old days” or “how things used to be” and this is everywhere, not just in live events.

The premise of these talking points is typically that the kids and their cell phones are ruining everything and if they’d just be happy doing things the way that they’d always been done, everything would be cool.

Unfortunately, that’s never really been the case and as technology has expanded to touch more and more of our lives, the likelihood that this idea ever becomes true lessens.

The reality is that people have always been looking for unique experiences or to try things that would be new or different, it is just because of technology that we all have a greater ability to see, try, and enjoy a wider variety of experiences.

Access to this diversity increases our desire for more diversity in the experiences that we can try or participate in.

How do we keep up?

How do we offer our customers experiences that capture this sense of newness, novelty, and diversity?

Here are a couple of ideas:

Change up your experience:

In the States, at the start of a new season or the opening of a new stadium or arena, a lot of attention is paid to the new experiential offerings like Wi-Fi, decks, or interactive sponsor activities.

These are all great opportunities to change up the way that a fan or guest experiences your event.

Another way is you can do what the Sydney Opera House has done where they bring out props and materials from their archives to add to the experience of visiting the Opera House, always adding another detail to their experience to continue to give their guests something new.

 Or, you can change the way your present your performance or change up the running time of a show or event.

Think about acts like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, or The National that play different set lists every night, making each show a unique experience.

Open up the experience:

When I lived in New York City, I loved the Met.

I would spend hours in the museum, walking the galleries, browsing the gift shop, and more.

So, when the Met started putting events on the roof with art instillations and a bar, I was in. Having the ability to interact with art, have a drink, and stare out at Central Park and the New York City skyline was a winning formula for me and a way to expand the experience of visiting the museum that could be refreshed regularly since the exhibits weren’t permanent.

You could also look at the way that the Atlanta Braves have built up the experience of going to a baseball game at The Battery in Atlanta. When you visit their new ballpark, you aren’t just going to a game because the Braves have built up an entire neighborhood around the ballpark with shopping, dining, and more to help grow your Braves Baseball experience in a holistic and experiential way.

To open the experience doesn’t require a new stadium or art instillations either, it could be just using assets that you haven’t used before like balconies, ballrooms, or plazas. The key is to find a way to give your guests something that is different than what they’ve come to expect from the typical experience. In a lot of cases, small changes can have a big impact.

Take your show on the road:

One way that maybe the most challenging to pull off, but guarantees something unique for your guests is to take your show to new or different locations.

Each year, INTIX holds their annual event in a different city to highlight all of the great things that people in the world of tickets are doing.

Next year, INTIX will be in Midtown Manhattan, but the previous two years they have been in Baltimore and Dallas.

This model has been played out by any number of events as well. Think about the Major League All-Star Game, the Super Bowl, or the original Lollapalooza festival.

 All of these took their event and put it on the road so that you might see many All-Star Games but you would never see it in the same place twice.

On a smaller level, you might move your festival or event around town or use different venues for your events each year. The opportunities here are endless.

The reality is that consumers have always liked variety. The difference is that with the accessibility of technology, we see variety more regularly and it makes our desire for variety in our own lives greater. For those of us in the world of live events, this presents a challenge…but it is also a great opportunity to do fun and new things.