Learning From Las Vegas

By Eugene Carr, CEO | Patron Technology

Having recently visited Las Vegas, I’m betting the arts could learn a lot from what has happened there. Not too long ago, Las Vegas was only about gambling. It was an industry in decline, serving a fringe clientele. Sound familiar? Yet today, although it’s still a gamblers’ mecca, Vegas has become a mainstream entertainment and dining capital as well.

Why did this happen? The transformational strategy seems to have been based on a simple idea: Gambling is fine, but what Las Vegas is really about is delivering an amazing experience that you can’t get anywhere else. The number of celebrity chef restaurants is staggering, as is the array of Broadway shows and resident musical acts. You’d be surprised by the number of people (like me) who go there with no intention of gambling.

It’s obvious that the customer experience is at the core of this strategy, and it succeeds because people put their mind to it. Cirque du Soleil, with no fewer than 8 shows playing at the same time, has a staff position titled Senior Director of Customer Relations & Experience.

I have a customer experience of my own to share, and it might be something you can do at your venue. As I was checking into my hotel, a line of people waited to get to the check-in counter, not unlike the line at the box office just before a performance. A staff member was managing the line. When I got to the front, she looked me in the eye and said, “Welcome. What’s your name?” As I told her, I wondered whether this was simply a bit of friendliness or if something else was going on.

She directed me to the registration desk, walking a few paces ahead of me to get there before I did, and quickly whispered my name to the desk agent. By the time I was standing at the front desk, the agent had already looked up my reservation and said, “Welcome, Mr. Carr. I have your reservation right here.” Pretty smooth! Then, she said, “I still have a few more city view rooms for an extra $40 — would you like me to upgrade you?”

How would the patron experience at our theatre be improved if you adopted this technique? What if your box office reps said, “Welcome, Mr. Carr. I noticed you’re sitting in the mezzanine. I have a few more seats left in the side orchestra — for an extra $10, would you like me to upgrade you?” Or what if the box office person looked at their CRM system and noticed that I was a donor and offered me a free upgrade?

These kinds of things are possible if you make it an organizational priority to know who your customers are and to have their data available at your staff’s fingertips, at the box office, and on mobile devices — and, most important, to act on that information. That’s the future we’re moving into. Our patrons now expect special attention and want to feel special. They want you to recognize them. Las Vegas, no matter what you think of it, has figured this out in spades, and it has totally transformed that city. How about us?


[Editor’s note: Bands and clubs could take these ideas and use them to their advantage.]

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Taylor Swift has turned writer for The Wall Street Journal by penning an article defending the music industry.

In honor of the newspaper’s 125th anniversary on Tuesday (08Jul14), the Love Story hitmaker was commissioned to pen an essay for a section called The Future of Everything.

In her article, the 24 year old offers her opinion on the state of modern music, dismissing fears that declining sales and increased piracy have sounded the death knell for the industry.

She writes, “(I’m) one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying… it’s just coming alive. There are many (many) people who predict the downfall of music sales and the irrelevancy of the album as an economic entity. I am not one of them. In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work… Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.”

“In recent years, you’ve probably read the articles about major recording artists who have decided to practically give their music away, for this promotion or that exclusive deal. My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet… is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.”

Swift argues that music fans consume differently than they did 20 years ago, detailing the success of her recent record-breaking Red concert tour and the rise of YouTube.com.


[Thanks to Alex Teitz, http://www.femmemusic.com for contributing this article.]

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Dublin (AFP) – A hotly anticipated comeback by country music star Garth Brooks in Dublin later this month suffered a serious setback on Thursday when the local authorities refused a license for two of his five sold-out shows.

Some 400,000 tickets for the Croke Park stadium gigs, billed as a “Comeback Special Event” before a promised world tour by the US singer later this year, had sold out in record time as Brooks-mania swept Ireland.

But residents living near the stadium complained that the size of the crowd — about one tenth of the Irish population — would effectively make them prisoners in their own homes.

Dublin City Council has now granted permission for the first three concerts on July 25, 26 and 27, but not those planned for July 28 and 29 — leaving 160,000 ticket holders without a show to go to.

“The scale, magnitude and number of the concerts with an expected attendance of in excess of 80,000 people per night over five consecutive nights — three of them week nights — is unprecedented,” the council said in a statement.

Croke Park already hosted boyband One Direction for three sold-out concerts in May on top of regular sporting events.

But the council said that holding all five Brooks concerts would lead to an “unacceptable level of disruption” to local residents and businesses due to noise, traffic disruption and potential antisocial behaviour.

A spokesperson for the stadium owners, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), told AFP that “as things stand” permission had been granted for the first three gigs and they would issue a statement later.

Last week a mediation process aimed at resolving the dispute recommended that in future Croke Park should not host concerts for four or five consecutive nights.

The report also recommended the GAA pay a one-off grant of 500,000 euros ($680,000) to the local community for a “Garth Brooks legacy fund” — intended to compensate them for the disruption.

But some local residents rejected the proposals and said they had not ruled out legal action if a licence was granted for all five nights.

Independent Dublin councillor Cieran Perry said the council’s decision was “a reasonable compromise in the circumstances”.

The concerts are expected to provide a boost to Irish tourism, as 70,000 tickets were sold to fans outside Ireland.

Brooks, who played two sell-out shows in Croke Park in 1997, is one of the biggest stars in country music and one of the top selling artists of all time.

He has only played occasional shows since announcing his retirement in 2001 to raise his children, but has promised to return to touring later this year.


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