Emotionally Intelligent Ticket Purchasing Experience

Being customer focused rather than internally focused is the name of the game these days. Drew McManus provided a great example of customer focused design in an interview on Dave Wakeman’s Business of Fun Podcast. Drew uses the example of his design process for UpStageCRM ticketing platform, (~6:30 mark) noting that they did interviews to discover what customers wanted their ticket buying experience to be like versus asking ticketing/venue admins what they wanted out of the ticketing platform.

Drew discusses how they created three user groups – experienced ticket buyers who are comfortable navigating myriad ticketing interfaces; infrequent ticket buyers who may go a year or two between online purchases; and complete newbies. They worked to make sure each group had at least one member of every age group and as much diversity in other demographic factors as possible. The challenge in designing a user experience (UX) for each of these group is that they each wanted something different. Experienced buyers want to be dropped into the ticket buying experience with as few clicks as possible, but less experienced people have questions they want answered.

Drew said that what they ended up doing was creating a narrative path particularly focused on newbie ticket buyers that would allow users to filter their experience based on their most pressing questions. For example, after you enter how many tickets you want, you are asked what is most important to you with choices related to things like price, location (close, aisle, sightlines, acoustics, etc). Among newbies, the conversion rate to purchase more than doubled.

Experienced core buyers on the other hand, Drew said, would ream them out about how unnecessary all those choice screens were. At least point, I should probably disclose I was an uncompensated guinea pig for Drew’s UX design. (Though some would say Drew’s appreciation and esteem is compensation enough.) While I didn’t ream him out, I did talk about how burdensome that flow would be to me. We had a great conversation about why his team was looking to include that path for inexperienced buyers. I am always interested to learn more and think about these issues.

For those core ticket buyers, they have an ever present “Back to Seat Map” button next to the narrative navigation menu so that people can immediately leave that experience to make their purchase.

Drew notes the importance of facilitating the purchase experience for the less experienced buyer lay in the fact they comprise the largest portion of your audience. You may see the core buyers frequently at performances, but they are generally only filling a small portion of your seats at performances. Most everyone else is going to be a less frequent visitor.

Drew and Dave talk about other issues, but focusing on making newer/infrequent purchasers feel confident in their decision to attend is at the core.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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