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LSO Pulse: the birth of a new project, Student Pulse

November 12, 2012 1 comment

LSO Pulse

Not long ago I asked a few questions of the team behind the LSO Pulse project about how the project had gone and the lessons learned. But for this particular project, it wasn’t the end because a brand new project, Student Pulse, has been born straight from the successes of the Digital R&D Fund project.

Nico Koepke, CEO of KODIME, the tech company involved in the LSO Pulse app programme, talked me through the evolution of the new project. The original Pulse project finished late in the summer, and with the program’s objectives having been achieved (and generally positive feedback from all involved on the pilot’s outcome, Nico tells me) the LSO suggested to other orchestras and venues in the capital to expand the student offer, under a new joined brand, Student Pulse.

“KODIME was appointed to create a new version of the app on iPhone, Android and the mobile web to enable multiple orchestras to list and manage their events,” explained Nico. “And to provide a central support service to both the participating orchestras, venues and the ultimate customers – the students buying tickets – We have launched the new program and app in September, and so far it is working well.

“More than 50 student events have been listed to date by the nine participating organisations, and more than 1,000 students are already registered in the program, buying tickets for events and venues from the Barbican via Southbank Centre to Cadogan Hall.”

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LSO Pulse and Punchdrunk: what lessons will other arts orgs take from our projects?

October 22, 2012 2 comments

It’s been a short while since my last update (not least because I’ve been on holiday!) and it’s been great to come back to so many views and shares on the blog, so thanks very much!

The last few posts in the series have asked questions of some of the projects (for example, we’ve heard why clarity has been so key for the Happenstance project and how, for the Dero project, success is down to committed project partners) – it’s been interesting to see the different answers and compare and contrast, but there’s a wider question I think needs addressing:

What are the wider implications of these projects? What lessons will other arts orgs take from all the experimenting?

For Punchdrunk, and their digital project, it was about rethinking how audiences and companies need to rethink how they connect digitally, particularly pertinent in this fast-paced world of tech and social media. “The conventional model doesn’t fit and needs to be continually interrogated,” said Pete Higgin, enrichment director at the company. “I think as part of a body of projects in the pilot programme, this one is certainly part of a wave of work that will explore further the crossover between digital and the arts. On a company level, our eyes and ears are opened to new possibilities and we are exploring ways to integrate digital work into our company.”

For the LSO Pulse project, the lessons were in mobile

For Nico Koepke, CEO of KODIME, the tech company involved in the LSO Pulse app programme, the lesson was purely mobile: “Students and other young audiences can be very effectively reached and engaged on the mobile channel, and they appreciate the offer and reward with loyalty. We also feel the project showcased that marketing and selling tickets via mobile including the reasonable complex transaction mechanics does not have to cost a fortune or require a new boxoffice system.”

Jo Johnson, digital marketing manager for the London Symphony Orchestra (the organisation behind the Pulse programme) it was about looking at the bigger picture: “We have taken our prototype app and are in the process of widening its scope to include several other orchestras and venues, making one big student scheme for classical music concerts in London. While collaboration between arts organisations is nothing new, this will be the first time that London’s orchestras have worked together on such a large project, pooling resources – financial and people – to reach more of London’s student population to hopefully get them to classical music in greater numbers. For a group that is traditionally in competition with each other, it feels like something pretty revolutionary.”

… which is exactly what the Digital R&D Fund is all about: creating revolutionary ‘things’ and forming revolutionary ideas to filter down through the ranks so that all arts organisations can get in on the action.

The LSO Pulse app: good project management key to success

August 28, 2012 2 comments

As part of the next series of posts for this blog, I’ll be asking some questions of the experts behind the Digital R&D Fund to see how their answers compare and what other, perhaps smaller arts organisations can learn from…

Question 1: What do you think the key to success has been with this particular project?

Jo Johnson, digital marketing manager at the London Symphony Orchestra, says that the project’s success was dependent on good project management.

“The nature of our project was such that good project management was key. We had quite a short amount of time to get something planned, built, tested and out into the market and the only way to get this done on time was to set out the deadlines, requirements and expectations from the start and stick to them rigidly.

“Of course it helped that we had a very clear idea of what the project was before we took it into the application process, so we were able to get going on it before the ink on the contract was even dry! And because we were basing it on an already existing student scheme, with an already existing audience to market it to and test it on, the only question as to whether it would succeed was whether the students would adapt to this new bit of technology easily or not, rather than whether the idea itself would work. Thankfully they did!”

The LSO Pulse App: mobile apps, QR codes and the problem with paper tickets

July 5, 2012 6 comments

The LSO Pulse project is the London Symphony Orchestra’s discounted ticket and loyalty scheme for students – they offer £6 tickets for 10 (thereabouts) on selected concerts throughout the LSO season at the Barbican to students aged 18 years old or more. 

I caught up with Jo Johnson, digital marketing manager at the London Symphony Orchestra to find out how the Pulse project was coming along…

“We wanted to update the technology we used to run the scheme and to give it a 21st century feel,” explained Jo, which is why LSO chose to use an app to reach a younger audience. “The app lists all the events included in the scheme, allows the students to share their attendance on their social networks and enables them to buy tickets for themselves and their friends directly from the app.

“It means that they don’t need to leave it in order to call or book online – this also means that they don’t have to pay a booking fee, which would usually be up to a third of the ticket price again on top.”

Jo explained that the tickets are delivered to the app as a QR code, which users can bring with them on the night for scanning on entry: “Students also collect points in the app for completing actions such as sharing with their friends, buying tickets for themselves and their friends and for filling in short surveys after the event. Points build towards a tiered series of rewards, such as CDs, free tickets, free drinks and meals, Amazon and Spotify vouchers – at the end of the season we reward the person collecting the most points with a trip to Paris with the LSO.”

Jo was keen to mention that, overall, the project has gone very smoothly: “We were delighted with the initial take-up of the app by our existing LSO Pulse members and pleased to see that the transition was pretty smooth for them. We haven’t had too many bugs surface in the app itself, and have had a smooth ride on the scanning hardware side, with no on-the-night disasters or total tech failures (aside from a couple of minor Wi-Fi problems!).

“We have been surprised by some of the ways in which the students have used the app – for example, a couple of users without smartphones used the mobile website on a desktop computer and then printed the QR code ticket to bring with them on the night, something we hadn’t considered as a possibility. Luckily this worked just as well!”

Because LSO are yet to do all the data-crunching, Jo didn’t have any concrete numbers but revealed that early indications show that awareness of the scheme itself has grown, with more first-timers attending LSO concerts.

“Our main challenge was related to the scanning process in our venue, the Barbican Centre,” admitted Jo. “When we sat down with them to explain what we wanted to do, they raised an issue with their auditing process – paper tickets were a required part of this and entry to the hall was not permitted without one. They were also concerned about their stewards having to decipher more than one type of ticket quickly when large numbers of people were entering the hall together.

“As a short term solution we decided to set up a dedicated desk for scanning and printing off the tickets that had been purchased in the app – stewards could then hand the purchaser the corresponding ticket after their QR code ticket had been scanned. This also meant the stewards didn’t have to be trained to use the scanners.”

Jo also mentioned another work-around they had considered: “We also thought about a solution whereby we purchased a ticket printer which printed a ticket when the QR code was scanned, but we discounted this solution as the Barbican could only accept tickets printed on their own stock.”

Despite this change to the initial plan, the app team have been working with the Barbican on future implementation of mobile ticketing, and Jo said she’s delighted that their test project has been able to demonstrate to them the pros and cons of this method: “We have however still been able to test the full solution twice at our venue, LSO St Luke’s, with stewards scanning the phones and without handing out paper tickets, which we were pleased to see went smoothly.”

Matthew Caines is a journalist currently blogging and posting updates from all eight projects involved in the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture

LSO Pulse App concert on 17th of May – student tickets sold out!

Does the LSO Pulse app and mobile site do the job it’s supposed to? Looks like it, with the next concert already sold out as far as student tickets are concerned. Admittedly, there is a smaller contingent of tickets available for this one at St. Luke’s but still good to see it working without any hard pushing at all.

That next event will also be the premiere of the complete paperless ticketing process, and we’ll update with results here post the concert.

Second concert mobile ticketing update

April 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Last night was the second of the student events promoted in the LSO Pulse app. The web application which processes the scanned tickets had been tweaked a little to make for a better user experience. The screen flicker which had been present on scan for the first event is gone.

There was also a clear improvement in how comfortable the scanner operators were in using the system. The process was more efficient than it was last time and there were no issues for any of the students.

Our next event is at a different location, LSO St Luke’s, where the set up is quite different, with new challenges and limitations, so we are spending some time on delivering in that scenario.

Report on our first live event with Mobile Ticketing for LSO Pulse

March 23, 2012 Leave a comment

As part of the LSO Pulse app project, we had our first evening of mobile ticketing with our target audience of students.

Having developed and built the mobile app and mobile site to facilitate the tickets and benefits of the Pulse program, this event was selected to pilot the complete circle of ticket purchase through to ticket redemption.

As a headline number, 100% of the tickets sold to students for this event were correctly identified, claimed and handed out on the night, with the details broken down below.

The overall process went very well, with only minor glitches and queries that would be expected at the introduction of any such complex technology into the ticketing process.

Ticket Sales

A maximum of 100 tickets were allocated at student discount prices for this first event. It was decided by the team to only allow mobile app or mobile site ordering for this event, to test the validity of the proposition.

Tickets sold were 64, bought by 26 individuals for themselves and their friends (part of the Pulse program is to encourage group purchase), meaning an average number of tickets pp. of 2.4.

The largest order was made on the Mobile Site for 8 tickets in 1 transaction (maximum allowed is 9).

Here the distribution of Mobile Channels used to buy the tickets:

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The Mobile Site caters for Blackberry and similar smartphones where no dedicated app exists. From KODIME‘s experience, this distribution is logical, iPhone users are the biggest group of active smartphone owners, and also like to download and use apps more than any other mobile platform.

Conversion App Download to Purchase

Of around 90 downloads of the app in the two weeks after release up to March 14th, we generated 18 transactions, which is a high conversion rate of 20%. We would expect to see no more than 2% based on the experience other mobile commerce projects.

On the Night

We set up at the venue at 5.30, and trained the LSO student coordinators Tomoyo and Callum over half an hour on how to use the scanner and web app (see below).

Tickets were scanned and redeemed between 6.00pm-7.30pm, with the last handed out at 7.35pm – after the concert had begun!


QR Code Scanning

The QR Code scanning with the manually operated barcode scanner worked flawlessly. There was the occasional issue of needing to focus the scanner in the right distance to the QR Code, but otherwise the decoding worked with all screens of different sizes as well as the paper printouts presented (see below).  


Web Application

In order to read and process the tickets, checking for validity and seat information via the QR Code, we had built a LSO Pulse “web app”, a website with interactive features. This worked well on the night, however we noted some user interface issues (web browser related) which we plan to improve for the next event.
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Social Sharing

We do not have tracking of all the social share options (email excluded), but 3 shares of “I have bought my ticket via the LSO Pulse app” were made to facebook and Twitter. This is out of the 18 app users, so not bad. Again need more data/events here to evaluate.

After the Event

The App provides for automated Push Notification to ticket buyers to complete a Survey the day after the Event. Our test handsets successfully received this notification and records show it went out to all applicable users. We do not have control over their settings; iPhone users increasingly disable these alerts. Of the 26 handsets pushed, only 1 started and completed the survey so far. Surveys generate additional reward points for users, and we plan to use a text message to re-prompt the users to complete their survey. Will need to monitor this over the next few events. One other reality is that users are generally reluctant to complete multi-screen data entry on the small screen, unless there is compelling reason (such as having to provide address or credit card data for an order).

Outlook

We are very pleased with the results so far – we only released the app two weeks before the event, and outside of a few queries had no issues with the reasonably complex chain of mobile marketing, transaction, ticket delivery and redemption on the site.

The next events (starting from April 12th onwards) will be used to

– optimise existing process and systems based on outcome from first event
– test additional layers, example ticket PRINTING and entry management
– gain more data from users for deeper analysis

Watch this space!

Nico