Henderson’s Takeaways from VenuesNow 2022

The 2022 VenuesNow Conference recently concluded in Austin, TX. This annual event provides leaders of live entertainment facilities a forum to discuss the most comprehensive topics that have been covered in VenuesNow Magazine.

This year’s gathering centered around the struggles live entertainment facilities face as they look towards the future. Drew Martin, executive senior associate AD for external affairs at the University of Texas, said it best, “the guts of the building make the building.” This theme was reinforced throughout the conference.

Mischa Haramia, venue sector entertainment practice director, and Ryan Starkovich, venue sector executive, returned from the event with the following takeaways:

Patron Experience

A hot topic at the event was patron experience and its associated trends. Perhaps the most notable trend today is security. Newer technologies can take the place of the traditional hand wand thereby speeding up venue entry. In one instance, patrons stood in line at one venue for an average of 37 minutes prior to technology changes. Now it’s two minutes or less. More time in venue means additional exposure to revenue streams like food, beverages, and merchandise.

Newer security technologies can furthermore help negate the post-pandemic staffing shortages that may be impacting security personnel. Along the same of lines of queuing time, there is an increase in utilizing grab and go technology at concessions and the use of mobile and cashless payments, which were reported to lead to a 99% increase in transaction speed. Another benefit of mobile ticketing is it helps with security.

It was also mentioned that the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and the need for more EV infrastructure will play an ever-increasing role in the fan experience.

Aging Venues

A panel discussion focused on extending the life of facilities that are more than 30 years old. The panelists agreed that future-proofing was not the best approach. Instead, facility operators should focus on flexibility and ways to repurpose their existing spaces. Challenges discussed included the increased expectations of shows and acts and the need for adequate power supplies to sufficiently support modern productions. Value engineering limits future flexibility, so it’s best to avoid it.

Also discussed was the importance of prioritizing limited funds for items that impact performers, teams, and fans. One of the key ways to enhance the fan experience is offering more lower bowl seating. As for enhancing the performer experience, make sure you have an adequate rigging ability over the end stage and account for the load/unload of the concert equipment.

Growing Event Calendar

Another panel featured operators of several Austin concert venues sharing their thoughts on the increased show count caused by pent-up demand coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these venue operators reported hitting their show caps. While presales have started to show a slight turndown, ticket sales are still booming and 2023 looks to be even better.

Henderson Knows Venues

When it comes to arenas, convention centers, stadia, airports, and multi-purpose venues, we know what it takes to design a space that’s performance and experience ready for every athlete, entertainer, fan, attendee, or facility operator. Our Venue Sector experts are always focused on the end-user, blending functionality with technical expertise, and exploring innovative solutions to showcase the competition, enhance the aesthetic and amenities, and ensure patron and fan comfort. When it comes to designing environments where thousands of people come together, our Venue Sector experts lead the field.

Written By
Mischa Haramia

Venue Sector Entertainment Practice Director | Principal

Written By
Ryan Starkovich

Venue Sector Executive | Principal


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