“The biggest reward that we’ve seen from going digital is that we’ve developed a level of digital trust with our patrons. When they walk in the building, they know that our product is world-class on the stage. Now, they know before they even come to the building, that the ticket on their phone is there, it’s trusted – they can walk into the building with no problem.”-Jeff Loeb, General Manager
Opened in 1930, the Hollywood Pantages Theatre has a rich history within the fabric of Los Angeles as a premier venue for quality entertainment. Initially serving as a vaudeville movie house, the classic art-deco theatre is now the go-to destination for the best of Broadway in LA. Patrons turn to the Pantages to experience something they can’t experience anywhere else in the city.
Part of providing an elevated patron experience includes knowing who is coming to the venue. The Pantages Theatre faced numerous challenges on this front due to paper tickets being completely anonymous and transferable without oversight. These paper tickets empowered unscrupulous resellers to take advantage of unknowing patrons with activities like copying a ticket 15 times for blockbuster shows or creating fake rows to sell fraudulent tickets.
With the team focused on addressing ticket fraud, as well as investigating ways to use data to personalize the patron experience, it was time for the Pantages Theatre to think about a shift to digital ticketing.
The Pantages Theatre partnered with Ticketmaster to improve the patron experience by using mobile tickets for instant ticket delivery, seamless entry and increased protection from ticket fraud. By eliminating the ability to print PDFs, the Pantages was able to tackle ticket fraud head-on.
The adoption of digital ticketing also gave the Pantages team the opportunity to discover new insights about their patrons. Since the implementation of digital ticketing, the Pantages has gained greater visibility into the chain of custody for each ticket, from the original ticket buyer to every patron entering their theatre. This valuable data takes center stage when facing customer service problems at the box office.
In 2014, digital tickets made up about 3% of all tickets that were used to enter the Pantages Theatre. By 2019, the number increased to 69%, with a staggering 96% scanning in using digital tickets during the last show of the season.
A key contributor to the Pantages’ successful shift to digital ticketing is their deep commitment to comprehensive fan education. The team deployed guideful video campaigns, succinct how-to guides and a suite of branded assets to an audience that was traditionally unfamiliar with mobile ticketing. The result was incredible adoption.
Digital ticketing has also provided the Pantages a trove of new names-to-file. With data collection at an all-time high, the Pantages has utilized the invaluable first-time attendees data to convert 45K first-time patrons into season ticket holders. Access to data-rich purchase and attendee reports has helped the Pantages team unlock new sales and marketing opportunities, allowing the theater to develop direct, personalized relationships with everyone in the ticket’s chain of custody.
Through these meaningful digital conversations, the Pantages has successfully built a level of trust with its patrons, providing them with peace of mind that their mobile ticket will be valid and easily get them into the theatre. As a result of the trust they have developed, the Pantages saw 45% of subscribers use auto-renew in February 2019, translating to 10K season ticket holders and +$7M in additional revenue. “That to me says it’s a trusted product, they know that they can come into the building, and they really trust everything that we do,” said the Pantages Theatre’s General Manager Jeff Loeb
In addition to deepening patron insight, going digital has helped streamline operations. By having access to real-time data, the box office is able to address customer service problems more efficiently before the curtains rise: Loeb added “We have really relied on data on every level in this building – it informs so much of what we do. The chain of custody conversation really comes down to customer service. We can’t problem-solve if we don’t know who’s in possession of the ticket.”