Jeroen van GlabbeekJeroen van GlabbeekSeptember 23, 2019
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13min1246

Recent studies have found that over a third of the UK’s population have attended a festival since 2016, proving there’s always a fanbase ready to trade home comforts for a weekend of music, food, and drink in a field.

Yet while the demand from music-lovers continues to grow and organisers remain eager to meet these demands, it’s surprising that the outreach and sales process is still rather old-fashioned.

Festivals are big business, but margins are getting squeezed all the time. Glastonbury is the UK’s largest festival with a turnover of £37 million, but this only translates into profits of £86,000 – under 50p a ticket.

When looking forward to 2020 planning, event organisers should be looking for new opportunities to ensure they remain relevant and profitable.

With today’s technological solutions, event managers are not only able to get to know their customers better but also deliver the best, most satisfying fan experience possible through ‘conversational commerce’. When fans are having a good time they’re more likely to spend at festivals and continue to return for years to come. By rethinking how to approach and interact with fans directly – through bypassing costly and rather generic display social media ads and simplifying how payments are  processed before, during and even after the festivities – organisers can achieve the ultimate fan experience.

The personal touch

Festivals are renowned for retaining loyal fanbases, with festival-goers opting to return to the same festival year after year for a guaranteed good time. However, with so much choice on offer, it’s proving increasingly difficult to ensure that your event remains top of mind when sales open for 2020 festival season. How you approach fans in the build-up is critical to whether they chose your event or a competitor’s.   

Fortunately, by utilising the previously unused data collected the first-time round, you can create highly personalised and relevant content for the future. The true value of data is how it helps you get to know your customers on a personal level; what artists did they favourite on your festival app last year, and what drinks did they order? By collecting all of this data in a Customer Data Platform (CDP), it can help to determine which fans are the most likely to become frequent attendees for your upcoming events. Useful data – such as contact details, which tickets they bought and when – can be put to good use in building a loyal, recurrent fanbase.

Every customer is unique and so it makes sense that the way they like to be approached differs drastically. By using each customer’s unique data from the CDP, the fan’s preferred messaging channel established, and be used as the default route for engagement. Nowadays generic emails will likely end up deleted or in a customer’s junk folder, but by proactively approaching the fan on the messaging channel of their choice, that is tailored to the customer, you greatly increase the chance for engagement and conversion. 

As the smartphone grows in importance as a basis for ticketing and customer engagement, channels like SMS – that still enjoy a 98 percent open rate – will remain important, but festival organisers also need to think of the future. There is a growing trend of a move towards Rich Communications Services (RCS), Apple Business Chat and Over-The-Top (OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp as customers seek greater convenience and the ability to transmit in-call media.

By catering to these rising services, organisers are futureproofing communication and engagement with customers by talking to them on their preferred platforms and ensuring that all personal data is collected, used and stored in GDPR-compliant manner. 

Far too many event organisers make the mistake of completing their ticket sales and then dropping any form of customer engagement in the weeks and, sometimes, months between the point-of-sale and the festival kick-off. This period of time is an invaluable opportunity to build excitement in the fan leading up to the event.

Between the ticket sale and festival date, more information becomes known as bands are confirmed and merchandising and supplier deals are signed. Proactively communicating these updates via the customer’s messaging channel of choice will build their excitement for the event and help them plan their time for maximum enjoyment. What’s more, informing them of special deals and merchandise ahead of time will only maximise revenue opportunities once they get there. 

Fan club: Keeping fans informed on events can be done via their chosen channel

Taking the stress out of payments

During the build-up to ticket release, most festivals will release teasers a few weeks prior and a couple of reminders a few days before. For the most popular festivals, hardcore fans will often queue up online hours before the ticket sales page comes online, constantly refreshing in the hope of getting ahead in the virtual queue.

This is an unfair and unnecessarily stressful process for the customer. The person with the fastest processor on their machine almost always gets their ticket first. As a result, the customers experiencing frequent disappointment, are left dissatisfied with the festival, increasing the likelihood of them giving up on ever trying to go again.

Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome these pitfalls. Once you have proactively reached out to festival fans, you can offer a preregistration by asking them how many tickets he or she wishes to receive and what kind. This way a fair drawing can be organised where everyone who preregistered gets the first opportunity to reserve tickets and a notification telling them whether they were successful. Additionally, new fan profiles can be created and added to the existing ones on the festival organisers customer data platform – all enriched and updated in real time based on customer preferences and purchase history, allowing for highly personalised engagement.

Fans will then receive a payment link on the same messaging channel they were first contacted on – or a different one based on their preference. You can set the system up so that if they don’t pay within a set amount of time the tickets are offered to another preregistered fan. Once payment is complete, the tickets can be sent directly to the customer or made accessible through a festival app or an OTT app of their choice. Organised and efficient solutions such as these are already being deployed by the likes of Formula 1.

The same app-based approach can be applied to customer payment solutions during and even after the event. By linking their account to the festival app, a customer can open a festival ‘tab’ to order refreshments and merchandise in-app, enjoy the festival experience and settle the bill automatically after the festivities are over.

This means no more standing in line to order, losing cash or having to shout over the music for a bartender’s attention. All fans need to do is show the QR-code automatically generated after making their order. As a result, fans have more time to enjoy their festival experience without the hassle of payments. This solution was pioneered by the organisers of Lowlands Festival in the Netherlands this year.

When payments is an effortless part of the fan’s festival experience, you’ve achieved true conversational commerce. When you cater to all communication channels and ensure payments processes are embedded in each, the customer can contact and do business with you the way they want. They have both the optimal Customer Experience and the incentive to come back to you again and again. 

The new communication age

Personalised contact and conversational commerce are only the first step. If you want to understand your audience to their core, imagine all the other platforms your audience use and link them to their festival account. With the consent and approval of the fans, all relevant social media accounts could be linked to a single customer data platform. This way, you could analyse their favourite artists and make relevant suggestions to the customer in real time, such as which stage to visit and when to get the best views.

In order to deliver this next level communication experience, event organisers need one platform that ticks all the boxes – from data collection to messaging and processing payments. With the right tools and data infrastructure, however, the truly customised fan experience of the future is there for the taking.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 3, 2019
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5min1059

With the summer festival season in full swing following the recent sun-drenched Glastonbury, new research reveals that pop-up commerce presents a growing opportunity for businesses.

A study by Barclaycard into the spending habits of UK festival-goers, shows that those selling at live events benefiting from increased revenue, improved customer engagement, and longer lasting loyalty.

The figures show that Brits are set to spend £1.2bn shopping in festival fields this summer, with the average attendee shelling out £67 a day on food, fashion, merchandise, and testing out experiences on-site.

With purchasing decisions driven by a desire for unique products that can’t be found elsewhere (80 percent), heightened emotions (73 percent), and open-mindedness (19 percent), merchants anticipate their sales will continue to rise. In fact, those present at live events expect their revenue to increase 12 per cent over the next five years.

Almost four-in-ten (37 percent) festival-goers now favour shopping on-site compared to online or the high street, while 31 percent consider events a better place to uncover new trends. Just under half (45 percent) also prefer the unusual product offering often found when browsing pop-up stalls.

An engaged audience (81 percent), space to create a memorable brand experience (80 percent), longer dwell times (67 percent), and a thirst for discovery (28 percent) are citied as the key factors encouraging Brits to spend while on-site. Central to this is the impact that watching live entertainment has on mood and feelings, with 73 percent of festival fans admitting this makes them more receptive to trying new products or brands.

Rock on: The festival industry is worth over two billion pounds and counting

With the festival industry currently worth over £2.46bn and 36 percent of Brits planning to attend a festival this summer, live events pose an increasingly lucrative opportunity for new and established brands. To capitalise on this, the majority of merchants see festivals as fertile ground to trial new products and ideas (84 percent), with half (50 percent) testing products that they have later rolled out online or in store.

Of those that have used festivals as a testing ground, over four in five (84 percent) put this choice down to the open-mindedness of attendees, with the ability to receive direct feedback (83 percent) also ranking highly. In response, 80 percent of businesses have developed new ranges to cater for those looking for unusual and niche products.

The unique festival environment also gives increased precedence to ‘word of mouth’ recommendations, which seven-in-ten (72 percent) merchants feel is very important for consumers when deciding what to buy.

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Sponsorship at Barclaycard, said: “Pop-up commerce is thriving across the UK festival scene, as brands compete to provide the ultimate fan experience. With more ways to engage audiences alongside demand for a deeper connection to the products they try and buy, festivals are becoming a fertile ground for all kinds of businesses to grow.

“In recent years we’ve also seen festivals start to offer dedicated event spaces to brands while providing activations on-site has also become increasingly popular. As festival spending looks set to rise, my advice to UK businesses is to explore the sales and marketing opportunities the UK live entertainment scene presents, or risk losing out to more savvy competitors.”




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