Businesses need to develop their social currency, advises Eventbrite CTO (videos)

12 Sep 2014

Renaud Visage, CTO and co-founder of ticketing giant Eventbrite, delivers his keynote address at the Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography

Selling to millennials now via the social platforms they enjoy makes practical business sense, Renaud Visage, CTO and co-founder of ticketing giant Eventbrite, told this morning’s Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin.

Eventbrite, which is opening a new office in Dublin, has processed more than US$2bn in ticket sales. Growth is accelerating to such an extent that in 2013 alone, the company processed US$1bn in ticket sales. The San Francisco, California, company recently raised US$60m in venture capital, valuing it at more than US$1bn.

The company was founded in 2006 by Kevin Hartz, Julia Hartz and Visage.

“Back when we started a company there was no acceptable solution for small and medium organisations to sell online.”

Eight years later some 200m tickets have been sold via Eventbrite’s platform.

“We were able to create a service that resonated with people.”

However, he pointed out that expectations from customers are evolving and to survive all businesses need to note four trends and integrate them.

The new generation

Visage said that the Millennials – the 18 to 34 year-olds who grew up with the internet and more recently grew up with smartphones and are now coming to maturity, creating a powerful buying force.

“And as they come to maturity they will become the main buying force for institutions. Live experiences for them are not about sitting in the living room watching concerts in Google Glass. The truth is that the real experience is valued beyond anything else – this generation wants to live in the moment, be there, sweat, laugh, have fun and share these experiences with friends and the world.

“We realised that this was going to have a tremendous impact on our business and we had to address them and give them the tools they need to engage with their peers, communicate their intentions and attract the people they want to go to concerts with.”

Accordingly Eventbrite has changed the motto on its home page to “Live more.”

Visage explained: “We took that behavour change from a new generation and incorporated into our image to fit with the times.”

Mobile devices

Visage said that the smartphone is now the primary screen of our times, and the desktop/laptop screens are now the secondary screens people look at .

He said that Eventbrite focused early on about making smartphones the vessel of useful services to clients starting with door entry management via iOS and Android devices and to remove the use of pen and paper at events.

The company has also created new apps for attendees of events as well such as an Eventbrite app for Passbook on iOS devices that carries the ticket on the device rather than having to print it out.

“Another key thing to do was invest in responsive design – the same code works across all devices. That’s an investment that is paying off nicely for us.”

Social commerce

Visage said that firms focused on the future longevity of their business can’t ignore social commerce.

“This takes a different mindset that involves understanding millennials, understanding the behavior of people and understanding the social space.

“Sharing has become the new norm. Your News Feed is a representation of yourself and it is about giving this generation and yourself the tools to share and comment. You need to learn how to create the social currency for your brand.

“Experiences are critical to people. They want to tell people that they went to a great concert or workshop, this will encourage a friend to go. This all has an impact on business n the end.

“If people found the event they are attending via a social network they are three times likely to share during and after the event.”

Visage said that the monetary value of a Facebook share for event organisers is €2.60.

The rise of the platform

Visage said that there are so many aspects to running events through online platforms including CRM, tracking, social apps, calendars, surveys, mobile apps, event badges, local guides, custom websites, etc.

However, rather than build these tools Eventbrite realised it was a much more clever approach to create APIs that linked with developers and brands or anyone who could programme to create ways of interacting with event organisers.

“This allows us to focus on what we do well, we are a ticketing company first and foremost.

“We didn’t want to do all of those other things, we could not be as good at them as all the other companies. Instead we used APIs to build interoperability between other systems and ours that enable customers in the end to be happier.”

Visage said that by focusing on the Millennials now it will deliver rewards later on.

“They will become the parents, the new norm. If you are not adapting to match their expectations you will miss out on the future,” Visage warned.

Renaud Visage Part 1

Digital Ireland Forum: Keynote address by Renaud Visage, Eventbrite – Part 1 of 2

Renaud Visage Part 2

Digital Ireland Forum: Keynote address by Renaud Visage, Eventbrite – Part 2 of 2

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years