BLOG 8th December 2016

So… have I missed much?

So… have I missed much? It’s been just under 3 years since I departed from my first stint at Audiences NI and started my sojourn into software development. Needless to say, I’m delighted to be back at Audiences NI as we start a new chapter … but more on that later.

For the last 2 of my 3 years away, I was product managing the For-Sight CRM and email marketing platform, a product focused on the hospitality sector. For an arts lifer up to that point, it’s been a fascinating contrast to view another sector at work. Hospitality, while different in many ways, does still share some of the same core DNA with us here in the arts though. It’s a people business, a sector with a large leisure customer base and one which revolves around the customer experience.

Some comparisons will hopefully prove heartening to hear. The importance of good quality data capture and data protection is really only starting to be on the agenda for many hotels, lagging behind the awareness that has existed in the arts for many years. Likewise, email marketing, customer segmentation & experiential marketing are still surprisingly recent additions to the marketing mix, even at some pretty well known brands.

An all too familiar lack of time and budget for marketing are of course common issues, but it’s here where hospitality tech may be stealing a march on where we are in the arts, with an increasing usage of marketing automation. Automatically triggered, personalised content allows en masse CRM with that individual touch, something that simply wouldn’t be practical manually with the time you have available.

Enough of my time away though – why am I back? Those who remember me from my first stint here will not be surprised to hear that I missed the work. While running a software product was a fantastic challenge to take on, I missed my big pot of box office data and benchmarking projects! Sad, but true (and not at all surprising to many I suspect). When the opportunity arose it seemed like the right fit at the right time, particularly given our plans to refocus the agency’s work around the cultural data and insights.

I’m therefore delighted to be returning to head up the research department at Thrive (formerly Audiences NI). I’ve always felt that we’re in a unique position to collate, interpret and inform about cultural activity, but I’m not coming back to the same organisation to simply do the same work. I’m excited at the prospect of taking a more strategic approach to our body of work, and going beyond the ticketing data to maximise the breadth of insight and consultancy we can provide.

By putting insight at the centre of our own work, we can better support arts organisations of all sizes to put that insight at the core of what you do too. We’re doing that because we believe it is that important to selling, growing and improving what you do. Give me a day or so to find the pens and remember how the phones work first though…

Chris Palmer

Strategic Insights Director

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