Eventbrite hosted the RECONVENE summit in May 2021, bringing together thousands of event producers. We’re sharing key takeaways from popular sessions – on topics like safely returning to in-person events, the future of virtual, and best practices for growing your audience – on our blog and our RECONVENE Recaps hub.

When Duncan Wold is curious if something is working at PianoFight, the San Francisco venue where he’s director of operations, he designs an experiment.

“Then we use our Eventbrite data and get some clarity on it [and] some really useful insights,” Wold said.

During Eventbrite’s RECONVENE summit, Wold shared his tips on how to think like a data nerd to improve events. Here are five takeaways for creators.

Watch Duncan Wold’s full talk below: 

Use data to determine what impact pricing will have on ticket sales

With Wold’s guidance, the PianoFight team used Eventbrite Reports to gather 18 months of data on two points: how much ticket sales for each show were, and how many people purchased tickets. Then, they transferred that data to Google Sheets and created a chart that showed there was actually a positive relationship between ticket prices and sales. As prices got higher, average attendance went slightly up. So if the venue raises ticket prices in the future, they wouldn’t expect it to drive down attendance.

“That doesn’t mean the same will be true for your venue, but the exercise is a worthy pursuit,” Wold said.

Discover if big ticket spenders are also spending more at the bar

Wold used data from PianoFight’s point-of-sale system, Square, to plot out the average price of ticket sales night by night (over the course of years) compared to the average bar spend for the night. The findings: “There wasn’t much of a conclusive relationship between your average ticket price and your average bar spend,” he said. “You do cheap improv shows, you do expensive world-premiere plays, and at least in our business, those people don’t have any real difference in terms of bar spend.”

Analysing this data allowed the venue to figure out the important thing for bar business was simply getting people through the front door.

Returning patrons help reveal the quality of a show

Wold decided to collect informal reviews of recurring shows from PianoFight’s staff. Then, he dug into the data from each show, specifically looking at the email addresses used to purchase tickets. That allowed him to see how often a patron returned over a show’s run (which signalled a high-quality show).

The findings: Staff-rated “low-quality shows” had a return rate of 4-8%, while “high-quality shows” were at 15-25%.

The takeaway: When you have a small booking team, and watching every show is impossible, monitoring patrons’ return rates is a tool that can help venues do high-level analysis of their calendar.

Your biggest challenge might be your biggest strength

PianoFight’s biggest challenge is the dizzying number of shows it hosts. But that high volume also generates a large amount of data, which the venue can use to glean key insights.

Even if you only host one event per year, like an annual convention, think about the data you can parse: You might have hundreds of thousands of orders, Wold said, or booths that set up in your space. Digging into that data can be enlightening.

Ask specific questions that get at big ideas

It’s good to talk about big ideas, but always ask specific questions. That will help you get the most useful results.

The answers probably won’t address the entire idea, and that’s OK. “You have to be OK with a little bit of uncertainty,” Wold said. “You have to be OK with things being a little hard to pin down. Data is always that way.”

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