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Column: Four trends that will have a significant impact on every business in Ireland

Paying special attention to the shifting needs and attitudes of the new, experiential generation will pay off for all businesses, writes Renaud Visage co-founder of Eventbrite.

Renaud Visage

SILICON REPUBLIC’S SIXTH annual Digital Ireland Forum takes place in Dublin today, and I’m delighted to be delivering one of the keynote addresses at the event.

The Forum aims to explore the macro issues trending in the digital community and being discussed by governments and industry worldwide.

Working in San Francisco, London and Paris, and advising startups all over Europe, I’m constantly exposed to new trends in tech. Indeed, Eventbrite is a direct result of my co-founders and I observing trends and responding to them.

In 2006, there was no affordable solution for organisers to sell tickets for small and medium-sized events. My co-founders and I noticed this demand and created Eventbrite, an easy ticketing solution we knew a lot of people needed and wanted. Eight years later, we have processed over $3 billion worth of ticket sales and registrations globally, and earlier this year, we opened an office in Dublin, one of the most interesting and dynamic tech hubs in Europe, in response to the impressive organic growth of our business here.

Clearly, listening to your prospective audience is an important key to success.

Today’s changing consumer needs and expectations once again offer opportunities to businesses and institutions that are ready to listen to their audience. Four recent trends have had a big impact on our business.

1. The Millennials are here

Millennials are between 18 and 34 years old and have grown up surrounded by connected technology that allows them to communicate in new ways, e.g. through social networks and chat services, which they use quite heavily. In a survey which we will publish later this month, we had a closer look at Millennials to find out more about what they want in life and what their values are.

Counter-intuitively, for this generation, one that is arguably connected like no other before, meeting people, living experiences and sharing them together and with each other, has become more important in their lives, not less. In fact, they are much more likely to choose interesting experiences over desirable goods (like clothes, cars, etc). In our survey, a majority of Millennials say they plan to buy more experiences in the near future.

2. Mobile is on the rise

Smartphones and tablets are outselling traditional desktop and laptop computers, and traffic from mobile devices is increasing for most companies. A growing share of internet users are more likely to use their phone or tablet to communicate, find information, read the news, reply to email, and buy tickets, goods and so on.

Companies and institutions need to make it easy for consumers to use their offering on a small screen or face losing potential customers. Finding additional creative uses for mobiles in connection with your offering can also set you apart from the competition.

Eventbrite organisers, for example, can check their ticket sales in real time on their mobile devices, use their smartphones as ticket scanners and view an electronic guest list that is updated in real time across several devices.

3. Social means business

Today’s consumers express their identity offline through events, which also serve as a new sort of social currency online. Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they have the perfect broadcast channels for sharing their life’s experiences.

As they share their pictures, thoughts and moments with friends online, they create a digital portrait for their networks to see. One in three attendees post during an event they attend; one in four post after the event or experience. There is a built-in snowball effect as well: we found that if people discover an event through social networks, they are three times more likely to also share this event on social media than ticket-buyers who found the event through different channels.

This has business implications, as more shares on social media translate into real value: in our business, for example, each share on social media in Europe is worth €2.60 in additional ticket sales to an event organiser.

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4. Open platforms are good for you and your customers

Open platforms allow developers to connect with your offering, and expand the possibilities of your service. Rather than having to develop every conceivable feature for your product yourself, you can allow partners access to it, who will build services on top of your platform, sometimes creating their own business.

Your customers will appreciate this as they can use great services together in a very simple and intuitive way. Mailchimp, for example, a very popular provider for email marketing campaigns, is integrated with Stripe, the Irish-born online payment processor, thus allowing businesses to send professionally templated payment notifications within minutes — Mailchimp simply pulls all relevant data from Stripe once authorised by the user. And that is only one of around 700 integrations this particular company offers.

Adopting a platform approach for your online business means you can focus on what you are good at and help build a complex ecosystem around your service that is very hard to copy by competitors.

These four trends will have a significant impact on every business in Ireland, not just tech companies, so the following advice is as relevant for an accountancy firm, clothes shop or cafe, as it is for a tech start-up:

• Pay special attention to the shifting needs and attitudes of the new, experiential generation. Bear in mind that events are a powerful way to talk to them as part of your Marketing mix.

• Think mobile. As new generations will likely prefer mobile screens over desktops, make sure they can view and use your offer on these smaller devices.

• Help your audience create social currency. Design an offer and tell stories that people want to tweet about, photograph, share and remember. It pays off.

• Focus on your core strengths and make your product the best in its class. Don’t try and do everything yourselves, you might end up with a lot of mediocre features. Integrate with partners whose products complement yours instead.

Renaud Visage is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Eventbrite. He is in Ireland this week to address the Digital Ireland Forum, an annual gathering of leaders in the technology and digital business sphere, organised by Silicon Republic, Ireland’s leading technology and innovation news service. Further information about the event is available at: www.digitalireland.eventbrite.ie. 

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Renaud Visage

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