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What Live Entertainment is Forgetting in the Rush to Big Data

We’re in the middle of a data revolution in live entertainment, with mobile devices driving a rapid expansion in the information that’s collected about consumers. We’re about to gain unprecedented amounts of data about our patrons. That’s cause for celebration, right?

Not so fast. Our current obsession with big data has created dangerous tunnel vision: Squeezing out more information without seeking to improve the consumer experience in sincere, material ways will be the nail in the coffin for the live events that are already teetering on extinction.

People go to live events to be entertained and to escape. They want easier parking and faster lines. They want a packed house of passionate fans and fair ticket prices.  They want to be told “thank you,” literally and figuratively. And they want it all to happen with as little friction as possible.

Technology can and should alleviate the pain points in the consumer experience for live events. But we can’t just retrofit consumer benefits into a core digital strategy that’s focused mainly on business goals like data capture or cost savings.

Instead, we must remain intent on the fact that attending a live experience is an emotional, personal and often passionate purchase usually driven by the desire to create lasting memories.

Will the QR code replace the ticket stub for my son’s first New York Giants game? How would I hang an app on the wall with the Playbill of his first Broadway show? Will I frame a mobile web page of the digital souvenir program from his first New York Knicks game?

Paperless ticketing, RFID technologies, customized merchandising — all of these innovations have the chance to enhance or destroy the very personal, very human live experience.

With technology transforming how we attend live events, we should be focused on how it will impact the memory-making process. Let’s give audiences paperless ticketing or RFID bands because it truly speeds up their time in the queue so they have more time enjoying the experience. Let’s give them digital souvenirs because we’re providing rich, custom content that a physical book could never replicate.

People’s time is valuable. We should acknowledge their choice to spend it inside our venues and thank them for it by using technology and data to build value and enhance memories.

If we do, the data will flow and the audiences will be abundant. If we don’t, we risk turning one of the treasures of our culture — the live experience — into an environment where watching from the couch is the better experience.

Damian Bazadona is the president and founder of Situation Interactive, the New York-based digital marketing company that specializes in live events.

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