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Ticketing — the cornerstone of audience development

#25Ticketing — the cornerstone of audience development

Ticketing has evolved significantly over the past 25 years. As part of AMA25 we invited AMA conference 2019 sponsors PatronBase, Spektrix, Tessitura and Ticketsolve to share their thoughts on the impact that ticketing has had on audience development; how it will continue to evolve and the role that the AMA and its members have played.

John Caldwell
Global CEO

The past 25 years has seen the arts and culture sector competing in an increasingly crowded market for our leisure time and cash, and arts marketing and visitor services has had to work hard to keep pace. We are deluged with options to fill our leisure time; accessing hundreds of channels of entertainment from the comfort of our own home for little cost.

To lure the audience of 2019 off the couch, we need to offer more than we did 25 years ago. Audiences seek a more personalised, richer experience — and that encompasses every touchpoint between our venue and the audience we seek to cultivate.

Above all, audiences seek authenticity — our venues must reflect the diversity of the communities that they serve, meaning there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ to audience development. We must truly understand our audience and reflect their individual needs, likes and preferences.

“our venues must reflect the diversity of the communities that they serve, meaning there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ to audience development”

AMA has proved an invaluable resource in keeping members updated on the latest trends and directions across the UK and beyond, providing the strategy, tools and techniques to help us build and maintain our audience.

Over the next 25 years, we anticipate the continued growth of experience marketing — the desire by our audience to build and tailor a whole package such as dinner, a show, director Q&A and exclusive content rather than simply to buy a ticket for a show. We see the continued growth of data-driven marketing, personalisation and tailoring, and anticipate AMA being at the forefront of sharing and developing best practice.

Ben Park
Head of Commercial Operations

Our sector has a better understanding of audiences than it did 25 or even 10 years ago. We’ve gone from a simple transaction between ticket buyer and venue to having a sector that is able to understand a huge amount about its audiences and the choices they make, which can help inform commercial and artistic decisions. The booking process is now the cornerstone of building a relationship with audiences.

We haven’t quite got to the point where ticketing can benefit the whole sector. We don’t have the same level of understanding of visitors attending museums or the visual arts as we do for theatres, art centres and music venues.

“The booking process is now the cornerstone of building a relationship with audiences.”

Technology will continue to develop over the next 25 years but I think the focus will be on improving the relationship between audience and venue, and also between audience and artist.

There will be a shift towards audiences following artists. We’ve already seen a shift, for example, with touring companies wanting to develop a direct relationship with their audiences and I really hope we can have more of that across the sector.

The real benefit of the AMA for us as a technology provider, and also, I suspect for members, are the conversations it facilitates. It’s helpful for us to be able listen to the sector to understand what they need and the challenges that they’re facing. The AMA provides the space for those conversations — such as industry issues or regulatory changes — to happen in a way that is very constructive.

Tony Barnes
Director of Operations, Europe

Rachael Easton
Director of Business Development, Europe


Tony Barnes and Rachael Easton of Tessitura Network both have over 55 years of ticketing experience between them; from implementing and operating the first computerised ticketing system in the UK which needed a small room of servers to operate, to now online and hosted services, there has been immense change.

Tony reflects: “The technology change has been substantial, but the strategic change that advancement has enabled has been most significant. Box Office teams have moved from a transactional focus, mainly reporting to finance to then more marketing focused, to now being an integral part of visitor services, front of house and usually most other departments, unifying a business.”

Rachael agrees: “Systems are no longer a place to simply record transactions, but enable insights to drive data-driven culture to facilitate relevant business decisions; ultimately for organisations to be customer-centric.”

“The future of ticketing will undoubtedly become even more driven by data analysis”

The future of ticketing will undoubtedly become even more driven by data analysis, and with AI (artificial intelligence) becoming increasingly prominent, will we begin to see prescient ticketing systems? Either way, Rachael and Tony both agree that people will remain integral to utilising that data to make decisions, and can therefore see a future for networks such as AMA to continue to bring us together for the good of our audiences.

Paul Fadden
Managing Director

Ticketing has grown beyond all expectations. The challenge for arts organisations 25 years ago was getting audiences to purchase tickets and book them before the event. Today at Ticketsolve we see ticketing as much more than just ticketing.

Attendees would order tickets over the phone, arrive in person, or wing it until performance day. Audiences are now accustomed (and expect) to purchase tickets and ancillary products on their mobiles or tablets; print their own tickets or save them on their phone; and even having them scanned upon arrival at the venue.

Ticketing has introduced freedom for audiences to choose their favourite seats, a choice to donate during their booking journey, and the opportunity to build a relationship with the arts through data.

“data should not be seen as a challenge but as an opportunity for arts organisations to move from intuition to insight”

The data gathered from audiences is one of the most powerful aspects of ticketing today. Through understanding data, audiences can be segmented and targeted with campaigns and messages that are specific to their needs.

Data is about insights and turning those insights into decisions and ultimately actions. A data-driven mindset unified with your ticketing approach means greater ROI from digital campaigns, brochure mailouts, and automation campaigns. Data through ticketing enhances creativity and the opportunity to ‘fail fast’ if campaigns aren’t generating the desired outcomes.

We’ve seen first-hand how adept arts organisations are at adapting to whatever challenges are thrown at them. As we look to the future, data should not be seen as a challenge but as an opportunity for arts organisations to move from intuition to insight.

 AMA conference 2019 — Rewire culture, audiences & you.