Last year, my friend Trammell drove an RV (which was later dubbed the ‘RVIP Lounge’) across the country to research how people were using Twitter. I was both jealous and in awe of the brilliance of literally hitting the streets to meet users. So when our marketing team approached me with the opportunity to take our At The Door product on a tour across the country, I was more than eager to do so.
I visited six different cities, where our Event Evangelists in each city brought together some of our top organizers. At each event, I explained how At The Door came to be what it is today. When I joined the team at Eventbrite, I was asked to create a “box office product.” This would seem straightforward, except that box offices traditionally exist in physical venues, which Eventbrite organizers rarely own. Through months of field research, I knew what I needed to do: create something with fast, secure transactions that integrated its data with Eventbrite.com, while staying portable, reliable, and delightful.
The iPad gave us portability and affordability, and an opportunity to delight, but we still had to figure a lot out for ourselves. Getting our amazing Card Reader out the door took immense effort, as well as some patience with manufacturers. And making it easy for the app to wirelessly connect with a ticket and receipt printer took some pretty tricky reverse-engineering of old-school protocols. We wanted to make connecting to the printer as easy as tapping a button, but initially it looked like technical limitations would force organizers to manually input the IP address of the desired printer in order to connect. We saw this as way too much fuss, so we spent a couple weeks reverse engineering the printer’s protocols to make printing as seamless as we had dreamt of (don’t worry, we’ve shown our work to Star, and they’re impressed and happy).
All in all, we’re at an exciting and early stage of the product. We want to provide the best toolkit possible for organizers and their teams on-site at events, and fleshing that out will take time. However, what we have today is rather remarkable, and creates new opportunities for organizers who have traditionally only accepted cash at their events, or used on-site transaction tools that could not sync data with their online pre-sales.
But back to the tour. I was struck by how varied our organizers and their events are, and proud (and a bit amazed) that we’ve built a feature set that can apply to so many people. Each city has its own personality, and I could feel that personality from the type of feedback we received from our organizers (for example: NYC organizers asked overwhelmingly for more social features, whereas Boston organizers literally cheered about a forthcoming update to our custom questions functionality).
I met organizers who had been using Eventbrite since before we had any employees, and organizers who had not yet signed up for Eventbrite. I met club promoters, NPO administrators, conference hosts, political consultants, media publishers, festival organizers, and more. It was a whirlwind trip, but a wonderful one, and I’ve been excitedly sharing all the feedback internally since returning. And maybe someday I’ll sleep.
Here are some fun stats from the trip:
Cities visited: 6
Plane tickets: 6
Train tickets: 3
Nights on friends’ couches: 5
Nights on an air bed: 2
States represented by craft beers consumed: 11
Coolest event attended while on tour: High school robotics competition. Teams built robots that could collect and shoot basketballs!
Orange dress shirts: 1 (I gotta work on that)
Business cards collected: 25
My business cards remaining: 1
Card readers handed out: 249
Times I was compared to Oprah: 1. “YOU get a reader, and YOU get a reader!” -Chicago attendee