Eureka! Moments from the Road

Eureka! Moments from the Road

Eric Nelson, Client Engagement Officer 

I recently rejoined TRG Arts (having previously been a Senior Consultant) in the newly created role of Client Engagement Officer. I strategize with potential, former and current clients regarding how they can achieve deeper patron engagement and realize greater revenue growth.

In this new role, I spent the spring attending four performing arts conferences (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, Broadway League Spring Road Conference, Dance/USA and League of American Orchestras). It was an extraordinary opportunity filled with great planning meetings, inspiring sessions, motivating speeches, and more than a few laugh-filled meals.  


For me, conferences are filled with illuminating ideas, interactions, and perspectives -  this tour was no different. Our world is experiencing a time of great change with a deep hunger for voices to be heard. It is probably no surprise that a common theme among the conferences I attended was telling inclusive and impactful stories. I listened and learned. As I reflect on these stories, my illuminations include new insights and updated best practices – a lot of Lightbulbs! 

Here are my top ten conference lightbulbs:

1. Ticket buyers get the greatest pleasure from performances that appeal to their intrinsic needs. They want to be challenged, they want to be moved, and they want to be introduced to new ideas. This type of programming also makes them more loyal.

2. Lobbies are underutilized engagement spaces. Patrons are charmed by and drawn into pre-show lobby performances, educational exhibitions, and balloon animal artists.

3. If you are interested in meeting and working with new groups…go to their meeting – asked to be on their agendas – speak their language. 

4. Even if you get stuck, just keep moving.

5. New to File buyers find our rules surprising and confusing. Instead of saying “you can’t bring food into the theatre.” Can we find a way to store their doggy bags? Why can’t we tell them when intermission will be and how long it will last?

6. Listen, ask questions, and take in someone’s story. And, don’t insert your story into theirs.

Tina Fey & Eric

7. Even though subscription benefits may have not changed, are we sure subscribers understand what they are and how they can benefit from them? I heard one organization say that they learned that new subscribers were confused when presented with the opportunity to upgrade their seats during the renewal process. These subscribers thought it was an unsavory scheme to make them pay more.

8. We should sing “We Are Family” together and often. 

9. The power of seeing a story you relate to on-stage being performed by someone who looks like you is beyond powerful.

10. Glenda Jackson thinks swimming is boring, Broadway’s Harry Potter said Thursday night performances are bouncier and Tina Fey is a boss at taking selfies with fans.

Have you attended conferences in 2018? What are some of your favorite a-has, eurekas and illuminations? Share on Twitter with #conferenceaha

Posted June 19, 2018

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