The massive South by Southwest Interactive conference just wrapped up in Austin, and thanks to the Internet I was able to follow along a little bit from here. A handful of arts and other non-profit people ventured into these deeply techy waters, and I hope more of us get to go in the future. It’s not (just) about gadgets and toys; increasingly, technology is dictating how we engage our customers, both to get them in the door and provide them with service. For us, working in an art form that’s all about live human interaction, this can seem counter-intuitive, but the beauty of all this technology is how we can engage with people outside of the theatre. People at SXSW were talking about customer behavior, the customer experience, and paying attention to how people behave vs. what they say they want. A lot of this is social media, but there are bigger things coming down the pike, like new ways to pay for tickets, new ways to provide discounts, and new ways your audiences will want to communicate with you.
It’s hard to know what trends will stick, which ones are worth spending our limited resources on, which is exactly why conferences like this are important, so that we know what’s out there and what people are buzzing about. We can follow the leads of deeper-pocketed corporations or charities…but not too far behind.