For the past 8 years, Turnkey Intelligence has been partners with Paciolan, a ticketing company under the Comcast-Spectacor umbrella. As Paciolan’s partner, we have attended their annual PACnet users conference every year in sunny southern California (not a bad place to be in February!).

I always look forward to this conference because of the extensive and diverse client base in attendance. The majority of clients come from the collegiate athletics and the performing arts industry; however, concert venues, professional sports teams and other organizations are represented as well.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Reinventing the Customer Experience”. Paciolan gets an “A” for arranging spectacular keynote speakers to discuss this topic, especially Jeff Shell (Chairman of Universal Entertainment), Chris Del Conte (Athletic Director at TCU), Mike Veeck (industry legend) and John Currie (Athletic Director at Kansas State). Each of these individuals had a unique perspective on how to reinvent the customer experience.

The following are a few key takeaways from this year’s event:

1. The home experience does not detract from the at-event experience. Jeff Shell felt the sports industry is too focused on the at-home experience as competition. He sees the at-home experience as complimentary and thinks that, in many cases, it showcases how great it is to be at the live event. Shell’s opinion on this should matter, right? After all, he does oversee $6 billion of Universal movie revenue…

2. Communication is key. John Currie has led Kansas State’s athletic department to financial solvency, which is a significant accomplishment in this day and age! He identified the key to his department’s success as the clear communication of their plan and intentions to all key stakeholders (specifically students, student athletes, alumni, university staff, season ticket holders, donors, and athletic department staff). According to Currie, everyone needs to be aware of what you are trying to accomplish, and you need to stick to your plan in order to be successful. Currie identified the biggest surprise in his job as the amount of time he spends communicating with stakeholders. However, that time has been well spent, in that it’s enabled his team to grow, and be successful.

3. Serve your constituents (who may not be who you think they are). In my opinion, Chris Del Conte was one of the highlights of the conference. He’s a truly an amazing individual who has the right outlook on life, defined business goals and fantastic leadership qualities. Del Conte grew up in a group home in which his parents raised 85 other children. From a young age, he was taught to serve the greater good, and he carries that approach through to today. Del Conte views his athletic department staff as a pyramid in which he is at the bottom. He sees it as his job to serve all of the others in the athletic department and put them in position to succeed, mot the other way around. I learned a lot from Del Conte, and hope to implement some of his philosophies into my work.

4. “Big Data = Informed Decisions”. As is the case at most conferences, the term “Big Data” got tossed around like a beach ball at a Jimmy Buffet concert. In our industry, there is a wide range of skill sets and needs when it comes to analytics and data-driven decision making. Juan Garcia from the University of Texas simplified it best when he noted that Big Data = Informed Decisions. In other words, you can be using some very simple data to drive a decision and it “counts” as Big Data. There are many in our industry that are hesitant/afraid/unsure of how to get started with “Big Data”. However, it can be easy, and I felt PACnet presented a great case for starting slow and getting some small wins.

5. Design for mobile first. Much of PACnet ’15 was focused on ticketing and marketing technologies. It was clear that anyone designing technology today must design for mobile first. This is the way of the world going forward; no longer can you get away with designing for non-mobile and then repackaging your solution for mobile. Anyone who doesn’t use this approach will find him/herself behind.

Congratulations to Jane Kleinberger, Dave Butler, Craig Ricks, Kim Damron and everyone else who coordinated this great conference, which continues to improve year after year. Turnkey looks forward to working with many Paciolan clients in 2015, and attending PACnet in 2016.

What did you think of PACnet ’15? Let Haynes Hendrickson know!