Top Takeaways From VenuesNow 2019

Most conferences that KORE attends have a clear focus around analytics and technology as it related to ticket sales, sponsorship, and marketing, but last week through our partnership with Oak View Group, we had the chance to attend and exhibit at VenuesNow 2019. The conference focused on the facilities side of the industry, including everything from event bookings and marketing to security and operations.

The event had quite the impressive line up of speakers, and we had several really interesting conversations with attendees, so we wanted to share some of our personal takeaways with you:

MSG Sphere is a Game Changer

There’s no other way to put this except WOW. Nothing I can write here will fully express the impressiveness of what MSG and The Venetian are putting together with their new MSG Sphere venue in Las Vegas. The incredible audio and video technology being built into this arena will attempt to put other venues to shame.

Ok, the scale of the screen for the MSG Sphere is pretty impressive! #VenuesNowConference2019
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

So the question for everyone else is, how does this affect customer expectations? One venue alone may not impact the market, but we know that typically advancements start in one place and others look to follow. If this is just the beginning, we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Concert Pricing is Undergoing Major Change

There was a great discussion panel on dynamic pricing with specific emphasis on the concert and live event space. in this area, there are conflicting forces between revenue optimization, achieving sellout quickly, and public perception of the artist. As a result, there have historically been very few price levels, in turn creating huge arbitrage opportunities for resellers.

Artists, promoters, and venues are tackling those challenges with more segmented pricing (though not as many as in sports) and by leveraging dynamic pricing models, which is becoming a more common approach.

One other interesting takeaway that led to some Twitter back and forth was this note from Andy Rentmeester of LaneOne

The secondary market buyer is more likely to be the actual live concert attendee than the primary market buyer. Listing seats direct on secondary can get tickets directly to more fans. #VenuesNowConference2019
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

When you think about it, it does makes sense. Primary sales happen so early and draw more of the reseller audience, that a secondary buyer is now more likely to be the actual attendee vs. a primary buyer! 

Personalization in Partnerships

While this was a venue-centric event, sponsorship strategy was a common topic throughout various sessions. Sponsorships have a tremendous impact in facility design from hospitality spaces and seating areas to digital signage and concourse/plaza elements.

Making changes to the venue typically comes with a significant hard cost, but with the variety of fan segments coming to the building it’s critical to think about how spaces can be personalized:

Definite theme in the last session around the need for personalization in activation along with building spaces that resonate with the variety of audiences attending games. Have to know your fans and your assets! #VenuesNowConference2019 #sportsbiz #sponsorship
— KORE Software (@KOREsoftware) September 10, 2019

This continues to emphasize the importance of knowing your audience! You need to make sure all data feeds – ticketing, demographics, merchandise, food & beverage – are being looked at and used to develop a sound fan profile and segmentation strategy.

Finally you want to match those profiles to your assets (or create new ones!) that make the most sense for your facility and your partner. This is where the collaboration between sponsorship sales and insights can have the biggest impact! 

Pushing Boundaries 

Al Guido of the San Francisco 49ers and Elevate Sports (and the KORE Board of Directors) did a one-on-one with Don Muret of VenuesNow talking about many elements of the fan experience and venues of the future. Towards the end, he shared this thought:

“We’re testing the boundaries of what the future of guest experience will be.” Flip the old benchmarks on their head and experiment with what we can create when building out new venue spaces. @AlGuido at @Venues_Now #VenuesNowConference2019 #sportsbiz
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

Benchmarking is an important topic – it can deliver great benefit as you can’t measure success or failure without a target. Al is spot on however, that benchmarks can also become stale and you need to question if a metric that is “the standard” is actually now holding you back. 

Adam Silver on Mentorship

This was probably my favorite insight from the event – it has little to do with sport, but everything to do with people:

From Adam Silver on learning from Donald Stern (paraphrased as part of a story on the decision to ban Donald Sterling): Good advice is less about telling someone what to do but giving them a good process to follow. #VenuesNowConference2019 #sportsbiz
— Russell Scibetti (@rscibetti) September 10, 2019

Mentorship is really important in this industry because of how small and interconnected it is, so having the right mentor who can help you develop your own process in analyzing a situation and making sound decisions can really impact your career trajectory. Clearly David Stern was critical to Adam Silver‘s path to the Commissioner’s seat, but the parallel can and should apply to all of us on our own paths.

KORE is the global leader in engagement marketing solutions, serving more than 200 professional teams and 850+ sports and entertainment properties worldwide, providing practical tools and services to harness customer data, facilitate sponsorship sales and activation, and create actionable insights.

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