Case Study

How Sensorio Used Eventbrite to Bring Art Lovers to Its Unique Art Experience

Copyright © 2019 Bruce Munro. All rights reserved. Photography by Serena Munro

If you ask Tracy Strann to describe Sensorio, an interactive art destination that’s being built in Paso Robles, California, she’ll paint a picture of a new kind of experience — “an intersection between art, technology, and nature” set in the middle of a native botanical garden.

As the current main attraction, an installation by UK artist Bruce Munro called Field of Light at Sensorio, 15 acres of the Central California coast glow every night with tens of thousands of LED projectors, which in turn pipe light via the fiber optic cables to illuminate the glass spheres, swaying in the breeze and illuminating the contours of the land as far as the eye can see. In the background, visitors come to see concerts, have picnics and attend other events.

As picturesque as it sounds, the behind-the-scenes logistics of maintaining Sensorio and installing new exhibits is no simple walk in the park. Strann knows that realizing the art center’s true vision as it plans for its grand opening in 2021-2022 will require careful planning — and the right technology.

The Challenge: putting a unique attraction on the map, from scratch

Strann is an event management veteran. She was Director of External Affairs at the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live, and spent much of her career in concert promotion. She was brought in by Sensorio’s owners, Ken and Bobbi Hunter, to create an immersive experience for art lovers.

When Strann took the job as executive director of Sensorio late last year, she found herself facing acres and acres of empty Paso Robles property. Sensorio itself was still an idea.

“I arrived to run this in October 2018,” she said. “There was nothing here. When I arrived it was just the land. There was no address, no employees, nothing.”

It would take a lot of work for her and her team to transform a big empty property into an art attraction by May, when she hoped to host its first event.

But the seeds for Field of Light, which would become the opening exhibit at Sensorio, had already taken root back in 2016. At the time, the Hunters were traveling in Australia, where they saw Munro’s inaugural version of Field of Light at Uluru.

The couple immediately thought of bringing the piece to their own 380 acres of land in Paso Robles to launch Sensorio. It was the perfect location to host Munro’s work, and just the type of attraction that would bring in the visitors they wanted — those living in California’s greater metropolitan areas and visiting the state’s wine country.

Copyright © 2019 Bruce Munro. All rights reserved. Photography by Serena Munro

Setting up ticketing quickly and easily

Because there was so much that needed to be done between October and May — hiring staff, putting up buildings, not to mention the installation itself — Strann needed to find a solution that made ticketing, marketing, and registration simple for herself and her events manager, Rae Myers.

The team had three goals in mind as they searched for a ticketing platform:

  • 1. Allow for quick ticketing set up, and allow for easy management of tickets
  • 2. Offer detailed reporting that would help with Sensorio’s marketing efforts
  • 3. Grow with Sensorio as it expands

“One of the first things we did was start thinking about which ticketing system would provide us the most turnkey solutions for back end, marketing assistance, and reporting ease of use,” explains Strann.

Eventbrite was able to offer an easy turnkey solution for Sensorio, including a calendar, so attendees can choose the date they want to buy tickets. To ensure an easy ticket-buying experience Sensorio used Eventbrite’s embedded checkout feature to host end-to-end purchases on its website.

“It gives us peace of mind,” said Strann. “Anyone can buy a ticket at any time and do it through the site.”

Now complete with 60,000 individual solar-powered lights covering 15 acres, Field of Light at Sensorio is Munro’s largest-ever installation. It runs from Wednesday through Sunday from sundown to 10 or 11 p.m. Attendees are able to buy either a general admission ticket or a VIP ticket which offers access to a private dining area. Live music, local food, and wine is offered every evening.

Since its first event in May, the venue has sold 30,000 tickets, averaging about 2,600 a week.

Copyright © 2019 Bruce Munro. All rights reserved. Photography by Serena Munro

Bringing tourists to Paso Robles

Paso Robles is in Central California, just north of San Luis Obispo. The town is in California’s wine country, but it’s remote, and despite the strong initial response, it’s not necessarily a place that might attract art tourists.

To attract even more people to Sensorio, both Strann and Myers are actively working to promote Field of Light. For this reason, they need a platform with solid reporting capabilities, so they can understand who is buying tickets and where they are coming from. Eventbrite is also able to provide Sensorio with detailed information about ticket sales and attendees.

“Where people are coming from is huge for us,” says Myers. “Every day I report on the numbers and how many tickets we sold. I also am able to download a world map snapshot showing where attendees are coming from.”

Sensorio is, so far, attracting people from two of the biggest metropolitan areas in California: San Francisco and Los Angeles. Knowing that information helps Sensorio — and the PR firms it works with — hone its marketing efforts, and promote the installation more effectively.

Myers also presents location information to the staff members before attendees arrive in order to help them prepare to interact with the guests. Knowing how far guests have traveled helps give staff some context when they’re discussing Paso Robles as a destination.

“We absolutely love knowing where our guests are coming from.”

— Rae Myers, Sensorio’s Event Director

Ticketing for a growing attraction

Impressive as it is, Field of Light at Sensorio is just the first step in the Hunters’ art journey. Their goal is to create an art destination in Paso Robles, bringing art lovers and experience-seekers from destinations far and wide to a location that’s off the beaten path.

“Its purpose is to provide an elevated art exhibit experience and to introduce the public to what will eventually be Sensorio,” said Strann, of the Field of Light.

As the attraction grows and changes, its ticketing needs will as well, and Eventbrite will be able to help Strann and Sensorio manage its events at every stage.

“This art exhibit is helping to put Paso Robles on the map.”

— Rae Myers, Sensorio Event Director

Sensorio itself will open in four phases, ultimately becoming a native botanical garden and immersive art experience which will include a 125-acre hotel and conference resort.

“Eventually Sensorio will be a 380 acre experiential attraction and destination,” said Strann. That’s about three years down the road. In the meantime, the venue is attracting thousands of guests every week to the Field of Light — an installation that’s only been open for two months.

“This art exhibit is helping to put Paso Robles on the map,” said Myers.

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