Q&A with Edmund Glover, CEO and Co-founder of FIXR
We spoke to Edmund Glover, the CEO and Co-founder of specialist digital ticketing and events platform FIXR. Founded in 2015, FIXR is a platform used by event organisers to manage events, sell tickets and help fans find events and buy tickets. Edmund shares how the pandemic, technology and data are changing the events space, and what it might look like in 10 years.
How have events changed since the pandemic?
Production is even more important since the pandemic. It used to be enough to open the nightclub doors on a Friday and people would show up. These days, venues and event organisers have realised they need to put on a bigger show than ever. They want to wow their audiences and earn life-long customers, especially the latest student cohort, who might never have been to a nightclub before (like during Freshers’ Week).
Promotion is more important too – after such a tough time in the pandemic, all events businesses want to ensure they make the most of the post-pandemic boom and because of the increasing trend of advance ticket purchase, there is now a longer lead time to customer decision-making than ever before. Of course, people still decide what they want to do on a Friday night, but a larger proportion than ever are deciding days, if not weeks in advance how they want to spend their nights out.
How are event venues using data and technology to their advantage against competitors?
In the nightlife space before the pandemic, only a minority of tickets were sold online and walk-ins were the norm. Now that’s been flipped on its head, and the majority of nightlife customers are buying online. During the pandemic, everyone had an opportunity to rethink how they were doing things and forward-thinking venues and event organisers recognised the opportunities that this change would bring early on.
Social media advertising remains a key part of event and venues’ marketing strategies, but they’re increasingly looking for business information platforms like FIXR to help them understand who their audiences are and the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns in driving ticket sales. Event organisers and venues now have increased visibility of customer attendance. They’re also able to understand the different cohorts within their audience and reward and incentivise their most frequent customers.
How are event tech apps evolving?
The bread and butter of digital ticketing platforms was to bring together a marketplace and get eyeballs on events. That isn’t enough anymore. You have to have an effective marketplace, but you also have to provide business information, audience analysis and the tools to help event organisers understand on a prospective, but also on a retrospective basis, the characteristics of a successful event and therefore how to make events in the future more successful. That can only be done with a platform that properly packages up data into meaningful insights so venues and event organisers can make strategic and tactical business decisions.
What do you think this space will look like in 10 years?
Facebook, Instagram and Google were already becoming less effective and more expensive marketing channels for events before the pandemic. The recent changes to Facebook and Instagram advertising since Apple’s iOS 14 is just one example of how things are getting harder. This has led venues and event organisers of all types to focus on understanding and communicating with their audiences through their own channels. That’s something that FIXR really focuses on. We don’t see ourselves as an intermediary between the event organiser and the customer. Instead, we’re seeking to use our technologies to bring them closer together.
As well as having an online marketplace, we build white-label websites and apps to help our clients sell tickets within their own real estate: it means their customers don’t need to leave their ecosystem. Events businesses invest so much in the customer experience inside the venue, and we think this should be replicated online.
As the social media universe becomes noisier and more plural, events businesses will increasingly look for specialised marketing channels to attract new customers and white-label technologies to look after them.
How might developments in AI impact the industry?
We think AI will help events businesses optimise revenue and fine-tune the relationship with their audience, with a live understanding of developing consumer preferences. Ticketing companies have the opportunity to aggregate an enormous amount of transactional data. We don’t think ticketing companies should be using that data to market themselves. They should be packaging it up (anonymously) and running AI algorithms designed to help businesses understand the drivers of success, even during an event. The introduction of airline-style dynamic ticket pricing, is an early, albeit controversial sign of the way things could be going.
How would you describe your leadership style?
People who start businesses that grow quickly can often find themselves in a typical entrepreneur trap, getting lost in the weeds and finding it hard to let go of stuff. When you bring people into a company, you have to understand that while there may be a company way of doing things, everybody is going to have a different approach. I’ve tried hard to respect that and to create an environment where employees feel empowered to share their diverse ideas, skills and experiences.
What quality makes a great business leader? Why?
It’s difficult growing a company in a competitive environment and leaders need to be resilient: weathering the pandemic was an example of that. But it is critical to be adaptable to circumstances and to move with the times. It’s important to have strong opinions as it’s your responsibility to drive the company forward with a vision, but at the same time, you have to listen to other peoples’ opinions. The whole point of growing an interesting set of colleagues is that you get a plurality of approach. If it remains just your vision, it’s destined to become hubris.
It’s really important to stay on top of the detail and understand the key drivers of the business, within key departments, and yet be able to take a holistic approach. One of the reasons people work for fast-growing companies is because it’s exciting and things happen quickly. Understanding and having an appetite for qualified risk is essential.