The self-service venue: Five opportunities for cultural venues

The self-service venue: Five opportunities for cultural venues

By Katy Raines
Flo Carr


Findings following research by Indigo into audience attitudes towards the use of self-service technology in cultural venues. Sponsored by Point One.

7,228 audience members responded to the survey which was sent out by 28 participating organisations.

A ‘self-service venue’ can be so much more than people buying tickets online. It has the potential to free up your staff to super-serve those who require or prefer human interaction, enhance the customer experience, increase secondary spend and improve access.

There were five key opportunities identified in the results for leveraging self-service technology in your venues:

1. QR Codes

76% of respondents would use a QR code to find out about an event - but only 39% have.

The cheapest and easiest self-service technology to implement, QR codes are already familiar technology for many people.

Options to consider:

  • Cut down brochures and use QR codes to direct audiences to your website, cutting print and postage costs.
  • Use QR codes around the venue to give information, ensuring you can always keep it up to date.
  • Use QR codes to encourage audiences to order food or drinks from a smart phone.

2. Click and Collect

76% said they would order programmes, food or drinks online for collection at the venue - but only 30% have.

'Click and collect’ is a familiar term, used by many retailers in the UK.

The results suggest an opportunity for  cultural organisations to adopt the term ‘click and collect’ in audience communications to encourage more people to pre-order for collection – and perhaps to consider what other products or types of merchandise could be sold through ‘click and collect’.

3. Kiosks

85% are willing to buy or collect tickets from a kiosk and 77% are willing to order/pay for food or drink at a kiosk.

Although many audiences are comfortable using their smartphones, for audiences who fit into the functional followers segment, kiosks may be a better option.

Offering both options allows a range of audiences with different confidence levels to self-serve in different ways, and clearly the results show that the majority of audiences would be comfortable using them both for ticketing and buying food and drinks.

4. Printed programmes

73% of respondents would use their own device to read a programme online or as a download - but only 39% have.

Many audiences are used to using their smartphones to access information – and nearly three quarters are willing to do this to read a programme.

It may be worth considering, however, what need the programme is fulfilling for theatre or concert audiences and then considering the most appropriate format or formats for the production.

Online alternatives (whether they are written information, video or podcasts) may enable audiences to find out more about the production,  while printed programmes offer a souvenir of the event.

5. Hand-held devices

62% would use their own device to access captions/audio description - but only 9% have.

55% also said they would use their own device to follow the script/musical score – but only 5% have.

The results suggest that this is the area which is least available to audiences at the moment, with significant numbers willing to use their device to enhance their experience during the performance but very few who have.

There is innovation happening in this area already, but it is very interesting to consider how self-service technology could allow different people to experience the same performance in a different way, personalised and suited to them, their needs and their level of interest.

Download the full report (PDF)

This project was an Indigo Share: Hot Topic, research which responds to a challenge being faced by the sector, and builds on Indigo’s series of major nationwide surveys into cultural audience confidence levels during Covid.

Resource type: Research | Published: 2023