Leveraging the Superpower of Patron Experiences
Have you ever been asked the question, “what is your superpower?” A lot of people might answer, “I don’t have one” or “my communication skills” or “my undeniable good looks.” It really just depends on who you ask. But when it comes to live events, there’s an unsung superhero masquerading as a simple patron. No cape, no utility belt and no spandex. I’m talking about The Super Fan.
What is a Super Fan?
The Super Fan is the ultimate champion of your venue. They come to your theater even when they don’t know what band is playing, or even if they’ve seen the production twice already. A Super Fan is the person who uses their super-social powers and passion to attract their friends and family to your venue. They’ll post #tbt pictures from an old show. They are familiar; you recognize their avatar and funky Instagram name. They’re the person who buys a membership, season tickets or a package, and encourages their coworkers to do the same. That person — the non-caped crusader of live music, festivals and the arts — is your Super Fan.
a very or extremely devoted fan
But Super Fans don’t just “happen.” There’s always an origin story and in this case, the origin story begins with activating the inner Super Fan in your patrons. And this journey starts with delivering amazing customer service.
Deliver Stellar Customer Service
Customer service has evolved tremendously over the last few years. It’s become a much more intimate, and yet public, process. The rise of social media and services like Yelp and Google Reviews has increased the importance of a good customer experience. And news (especially bad) travels faster than the speed of light, making word-of-mouth marketing more important than ever.
At times, this might seem like a disadvantage, but you can use this as an opportunity to amplify your marketing efforts – especially if you target your Super Fans. Engaging and activating your Super Fans through awesome patron experiences and superior customer service is a worthy investment for any venue.
Create Awesome Patron Experiences and Unlock the Power of Your Super Fans
Every touch, every interaction is an opportunity to keep your venue top of mind and activate your Super Fans. If you focus on providing personalized value, amazing customer service and engaging experiences for your most loyal patrons, you will be able to release the spider whose radioactive bite unlocks the power of your Super Fans (metaphorically speaking, of course). Here are some tips and tricks to help you do this before, during and after the big show.
Before the Event
It’s crucial to make a positive impression before your patrons even set foot in your venue. Obviously, you want to make sure the ticket buying experience is as smooth as possible, but there are many other factors you can use to give your patrons an excellent pre-show experience.
Make your loyal patrons feel special with pre-sale or exclusive access to tickets and allow holds that give groups the opportunity to sit together. You can also think about partnering with credit card issuers to give exclusive pre-sales to specific card holders. This not only gives you some additional brand recognition, but sometimes they’ll even promote your event directly to their card holders – extending your reach.
Go the extra mile by sending out pre-event auto emails with genuinely helpful information. Things like where to find parking, nearby restaurants, bars and hotels, upcoming discounts or coupons to local businesses within the community. Because after all, superheros need to eat too. And these emails can be so much more than simply reminders about the upcoming show. Get creative and think about how you can integrate ways to promote your sponsors and partner companies as well.
Ask for feedback — it goes a long way! In your ticket buying process, you can include a short survey (even just one question) to help you improve your customer experience or optimize your marketing efforts. Ask them how they heard about you or what type of events they’d like to see in the future. Use every interaction as an opportunity to learn more about your most loyal patrons and transform them into Super Fans.
During the Event
You’ve made it – it’s show night. But with a million things to worry about, it’s even more important to not lose sight of your patrons and their complete experience. Keep this at the forefront of everything you and your organization do every day. Every action you take, and the way you take that action, impacts the customer experience. So what are some of the ways you can give patrons the best experience possible?
- Put together a Patron Manifest or cheat sheet of all those coming through your doors. This lets you personally greet each one as they enter – from first time attendees to donors to your Super Fans. Include pictures, relevant information about the patron and even notes about their personal life. Favorite band? Kids in college? Dog sick? Add as much detail as you can. It’s hard to keep track of your fans’ personal lives, so make yourself this cheat sheet with hints for yourself!
- Have a system to alert staff when VIPs and Super Fans arrive. Whether by text, email, walkie-talkie or bat-signal, it’s important to keep an eye out for VIPs and Super Fans to give them the attention that they deserve. You never want to miss a Super Fan when they walk in the door (even when they’re in disguise). And that extra personal touch will help you create future Super Fans.
- Speed up the ticket buying process and cut down lines with mobile ticket sales and mobile check in. Incorporate a “mobile box office” so you can send reinforcements out into lines to sell tickets to patrons as they wait. This makes things much more convenient for patrons and dramatically cuts down on wait time.
- For shows with intermissions, create a lobby experience for your patrons during those breaks. Whether that’s a small jazz band playing in the corner, refreshments or even an all-out graffiti wall to express your feelings about the show, you want to keep your patrons feeling taken care of at all times.
- For Festivals, make sure to include an element of uniqueness and beauty — something that really adds a wow-factor to separate you from the rest. This could be anything from art installments and awesome technology, to cool and unique RFID wristband designs with awesome packaging. The best festivals are built around the patron experience, which means that the crazier, more out there your unique experience is — the better. (Look for posts down the road about this topic!)
After the Event
When the last patron has left your venue, the lights have gone down and you’ve locked up for the night, it’s time for the final piece of the customer service puzzle. Your goal is to leave your patrons with a great feeling and excited for the next opportunity to visit your venue. Here are a few ways to leave them wanting more.
- Just as you did before your event, you should send an email afterwards. Include things like photos and video from the show to remind them of the awesome experience they had. Thank them by including things of value like discount codes for future events, offers from your sponsors or even special behind-the-scenes content and cast quotes. This is where you can get really creative, but remember – you want these to be interesting, useful and to add value. No one wants more spam in their inbox, so make sure you’re providing content that your patrons actually look forward to receiving.
- Offering discounts to your next show is a great way to encourage repeat customers. And there’s somewhat of a science to it – you want to offer your first time attendees a more substantial discount. That extra incentive will really help get through your doors a second time.
- Have a post-show reception! Everyone loves to be invited to an exclusive party, so organize a reception after your shows with cast and crew. That additional inclusion will make your patrons feel valued and taken care of. Have a photo booth setup so folks can take selfies and promote your venue on social. Oh, and hey, free drinks never hurts!
- Encourage patrons to be social by sharing photos and tagging themselves in pictures you post on your social media sites. Include links to your Facebook photo albums in your emails reminding them of the awesome experience they had and ask them to tag themselves. You’d be surprised how much your fans love showing their support, so don’t be afraid to give them shout outs and ask them to participate!
The 12 ways to activate your Super Fans
These recommendations come from our own personal experience, and are ones that we make to our Members all the time. Customer service is one of the most important aspects of our business and is a crucial step to activating your Super Fans. We’re so passionate about this that we created a specific app dedicated to help you build better relationships with patrons.
We’ve learned that if you put forward that extra effort to treat your patrons special, the rewards will speak for themselves. Again, here are the 12 ways to activate your Super Fans:
1. Make your loyal patrons feel special with pre-sale or exclusive access.
2. Send out pre-event auto emails with genuinely helpful information.
3. Ask for feedback to improve customer experience or optimize your marketing efforts.
4. Put together a Patron Manifest or cheat sheet of all those coming through your doors – help yourself remember important information
5. Have a system to alert staff when VIPs and Super Fans arrive.
6. Speed up the ticket buying process and cut down lines with mobile ticket sales and mobile check in.
7. For shows with intermissions, create a lobby experience for your patrons during those breaks.
8. For Festivals, make sure to include an element of uniqueness and beauty.
9) Remind patrons why they came in the first place by sending a post-show email and include photos and video from the show.
10) Offer discounts to your next show to thank patrons for coming and encourage repeat customers.
11) Have a post-show reception – because, hey, everyone loves to party!
12) Encourage patrons to share photos and tag themselves in pictures that you post on your social media sites.
It’s time to turn on your very own bat-signal. Focus on stellar customer experience and amazing experiences to activate your Super Fans. They’re out there right now, just waiting to become your secret weapon and save the day. Go get ‘em!