Audience Development and lessons from Vegas

I have been a little quiet this week due to needing to catch up from my Las Vegas extended weekend trip.  I have blogged in the past about how the lessons are all around us, and while I was in Vegas, there were definite lessons that presented themselves for me to learn from.  Here are the lucky seven lessons that will summarize some of the audience development principals.

1. The people behind the hotel check-in desk were not very friendly, and throughout the weekend, they continued to get my name wrong.
If you want to make people happy and loyal, you will want to be happy and friendly and make sure you address your patrons correctly.  Everyone is sensitive about their name, whether misspelled or mispronounced, especially after attempts to correct have been ignored. If you want a happy and loyal audience, you need to treat them like they are important people.

2. Their alarm clock wasn’t working and their wake-up calls were 10 minutes late every morning. Plus, they didn’t have a towel bar in the bathroom.  When basic services are lacking, this sends a message that you simply do not care about your patrons.  Make sure your basic services are quality services.

3. Vegas doubles the prices and nickle and dimes you for everything you do.
I wouldn’t have minded this fact as much if the basic services and the services in general were good.  We had slow service at restaurants despite the prices being doubled.  If your ticket or art work is a little more on the pricey side, at least make sure what you are presenting (the entire package) is worth the higher cost.  I will say that one restaurant we went to was worth the higher cost.  The food and the service was excellent!

4. Vegas “highjacks” people around the bigger intersections, taking people out of their way through various hotels and past certain shops.
I see the necessity safety wise, but adding more walking time is a pain to the patron, especially if it is for marketing purposes.  I would have appreciated a foot rub booth, or something that would have made these “highjacks” a little more comfortable. They didn’t even have benches along the way.  How does this Vegas lesson translate?  If a change you make is necessary but might upset your patrons, make sure your patrons understand the reasons and implement amenities that will make them happier with this change.

5. Audience participation is fun and makes experiences memorable.
This was one of the good things about Vegas.  Their shows have the audience participation factor down and most of the shows are high quality and very entertaining.  I felt like I was part of the shows and not just a spectator watching the shows.  I was amazed how one theater had seats with built in audio to experience the music more personally.  The attention to detail to make the audience become a part of the show was there, and I will never forget these experiences!

6. Take a risk!
Vegas is all about risks when it comes to gambling.  If you don’t take the risk to play,  you won’t be taking the risk to win either.  Losing money is not the lesson here, but not getting in the game is the lesson.  If you are playing it safe with your art, you may not be winning new audience or helping your current audience to grow.  Stale art is just as bad as not getting in the game.  I do have to mention that in business, sometimes it takes money to make money, which also means taking a risk.  Use the 5th C Courage and take a risk!

7. Follow-up
Despite the hotel having some major flaws, they at least sent me a thank you email with a survey to get my feedback.  Whether they use the feedback and make some changes, I may not find out about, but the fact that they are attempting to follow-up makes me feel like I have a chance to be heard.  If you are not allowing for patron feedback, you are missing out on valuable information, missing out on an opportunity to get to know your patrons, and missing out on a way to show that you care to get their suggestions and comments for improvement.  Plus, if you do this step properly, you have a chance of building relations with them and inviting them to another fabulous opportunity.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”

~James Stewart

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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