TPC in Numbers

TPC in Numbers
Andrew Thomas, Director, Ticketing Professionals Conference
It’s always a false economy to rely on numbers, after all, my fitness tracker told me I have climbed 10 flights this morning, and I hadn’t even left the bedroom.  There is always some comfort that we all seek in ticketing terms about numbers, online percentage of sales, yield, % of seats occupied, earnings per ticket - these are all well-established metrics. I am not sure we are there for conferences or industry gatherings just yet, but some numbers always help provide insight.
The second Ticketing Professionals Conference ran from 16 – 17 March at the ICC in Birmingham(UK), our ‘home’ - well at least for the time being.  We welcomed 335 delegates, (up 15.5% up over our inaugural year 2016) - representing some 21 countries, the majority from Europe; but we also welcomed colleagues from the US, Canada, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Russia as well as some ‘regulars’ from Australia and New Zealand. 
The number is not important here, it’s the diversity - how people work, why they do it that way, the struggles they face and the solutions that they have found. Personally, regardless of the conference, I get more from coffee breaks and lunch time chats, finding that amazing new idea, or approach to a problem that I have. 
We welcomed 24 commercial and collaboration partners to TPC too - a rise of just under 20% on 2016 - as I said in my opening address to the conference, support from the industry suppliers and associations is key.  This collaboration helps us keep the delegate rates as low as possible – as well as lay on those extra treats. 
One of those treats came in the form of our Gold Sponsors Cocktail hour (and a half) - where delegate who drink alcohol were treated to a choice of three delicious cocktails from the fabulous Shakespeare’s Distillery. [Editor’s note: thank you to TPC and Peter Monks for the best speaker gift boxes ever with the inclusion of a personal gin & tonic set up from Shakespeare’s Distillery]
Even these numbers, come from OTHER numbers, last year’s post event survey brought to our attention some issues we addressed for this year.  As someone who always gives his brutal feedback to INTIX (sorry!) - it was great to get some ourselves and then have the opportunity to  address it - the issue in question were several delegates who complained that last year’s cocktail hour and a half had no cocktails! 
Additionally, we altered catering options with more salad and fresh healthy options; provided more seating as well as some other tweaks. It’s the luxury we have had staying at one location - so I real do feel for INTIX having such a huge geography to cover. 
My draw to INTIX has always been education.  Education and professional development forms the cornerstone of what we wanted (and are) delivering at TPC. In 2017, we delivered 25 education sessions, totaling just over 22 hours with a mix of full plenary (keynote) sessions as well as workshops.  New this year was the well-received breakfast wake up sessions - 30 minutes designed to deliver snappy content and get the brain moving. 
The education sessions did draw some criticism though (the same thing I often build into my critique of Every INTIX): “Why did you put programme A at the same time as B…..and C!  I want to go to both!”  If you end up with that kind of feedback, you know that the education programming is doing the right thing. 
So, the figures look good? No. Not all of them. In 2016, we tried and almost managed to balance the gender of speakers. This year we tried to build on that, but could not (only 7 of 38 speakers were female). We had an education panel that was almost gender balanced, but we did not programme or manage to obtain anywhere near a representative group of speakers, we tried, but failed. We were called out on it and that hurt, but we agree.  We need to improve on this. As we enter our 2018 planning cycle gender and racial balance will be a key deliverable, coupled, of course, with great content. 
I have nothing against numbers, some however cry out to us of ways to either improve or perhaps just carry on delivering - we should not lose sight of those.
Nothing beats those faces though.  Having great fun with, as Maureen often calls it, “their second families, their tribe” -  I miss it from the close of every INTIX to the kick off of the next; it is the same now for Ticketing Professionals Conference. 
I guess we had better get planning 2018 - after all it’s only 333 days, 7 hours and 26 minutes away, but heh – they’re only numbers!