Posted on October 1st, by aka wendy in Findings. No Comments

d.Lobby was produced on August 29th at the Sigma Chi house on the Stanford campus as part of the ReDesigning Summer Fellowship 2012.

This prototype was based on these four design principles, with a heavy focus on the third.

Design Principles:

  • Events don’t have fixed start/end times but rather begin in social spaces, digital and physical. They end gradually over days as photos, comments, and discussion pertaining to the physical even happens.

  • Events have a real-time physical and digital reality.

  • Crowd forming is now a combination of real time and digital/virtual time negotiation:

    1) There is more data about what’s happening

    2) There is more personal marketing that brings people to events (i.e. text messages, instagram, etc)

    3) There is more flexibility in regards to ticketing. People are not only waiting until the day of to decide to attend an event but they wait until during the event

    4) People can preview and check ratings/options on the go for everything

  • 20-35 year-olds manage their persona differently thru social media (or not) and experience. Their personal reaction to everything is worth sharing.

STK_5362 (ZF-5439-09663-1-003)

d.Lobby was designed to answer this challenge:

“Create a space in which the traditional sense of the Lobby and the Theater are flipped. The audience walks into the lobby and it is a social space, like a bar. Connected to the main lobby space are smaller theater spaces. Each of those spaces has a specific show that runs in rep throughout the night, they can be anywhere from 20-60 minutes. The lobby will be the main social space and provide the architecture for people to feel comfortable being there and popping into performances when they feel. The event will be open from 7-10pm.

This will not only allow for people to have a more social setting while seeing theater, but also create a system that promotes real-time crowd forming. People are free to come and go as they please, like a bar with a cover, but have the option of popping into a variety of theater spaces”.

These were the specifics of the event:

  • Theater Spaces

    • Musical Theater

      • A truncated production of The Last Five Years (50 min, ran twice)

    • Circus

      • An outdoor performance by Circus Flim Flam (20 min, ran twice)

    • Opera

      • A performance by Opera on Tap (25 min, ran three times)

  • Main Space

    • A Friendly and Knowledgeable Staff

      • To help guide people to see what they wanted and grant permission to enter and exit during shows.

    • A Large Projected Map

      • To help guests find their bearings in the space and check show times for each performance.

    • Cocktail tables with information about the lineage which each performance comes from.

      • To give people tools and a lens through which to watch each show.

    • Food and Drink

      • To promote sociability and add to the “hang-out” atmosphere.

    • A DJ

      • To provide a non-aural indicator that it is OK to stay and socialize in the lobby space while shows are running.

    • A Photobooth

      • To provide the same non-aural indicator as the DJ.

      • To help assist the digital presence of the event.

    • A Live Projection of the Opera Performance on Its Entrance

While running the event, we noticed these general trends:

  • If given permission, audiences are very willing to walk in and out of performances freely.

  • Depending on the nature of the performance, this can be very disruptive to the audience members attempting to watch/listen carefully.

  • Guests will explore or sample each performance option before deciding on one to commit to (if they ever commit)

  • The musical had the most structured narrative and seating, and most guests stayed for the full 50 minutes.

  • This also lead to many guests in the musical room experiencing a fear of missing out on what was going on elsewhere at the event while they were watching the musical.

  • Guests did not express the common feeling of “not getting it” when it came to the opera and circus and felt comfortable being critical.

  • Guests enjoyed having options and a majority of them stayed for more than half of the entire event.

  • Real-time crowd forming began to take place as the guests began texting other friends, telling them to get to the event even as it was ending.

  • When shows were announced aurally, it destroyed the atmosphere of the party in the lobby for a couple minutes.

Based on the first prototype of d. Lobby, we make these recommendations for future prototypes:

  • Make the guided map large and very prominent to help with wayfinding. Possibly with a welcome statement explaining the event.

  • Announce the start of shows non-orally, but still conspicuously.

  • Technology permitting, allow guests to have a minute where whatever they film on their phone goes onto the “jumbotron”.

  • Also the photobooth pictures could be posting to the jumbotron.

  • Design the architecture of each room to create “soft” entrances where guests can come and go without leaking sound from the lobby, and get an idea of the performance in progress without fully entering the space or distracting the performers.

  • Have a single culminating performance at the end of the night, possibly involving performers from different acts in a collaborative piece.

  • Run a show that has narrative, preferably without a musical element so that audiences would have to stay and listen for a fuller experience.

  • Run a show with a longer run-time, preferably over an hour.

  • Run the event multiple nights to create buzz and test crowd-forming.

  • IMPORTANT: What worked and is essential is that an atmosphere is created in the lobby space that is comfortable to be in, and is also catered towards the shows that are happening.

d.Lobby Financial Applications:

The success of d.Lobby in terms of word of mouth marketing, crowd forming patterns, and consumer satisfaction reveal high potential for monetization of this new concept. Furthermore, the innovative structure of having multiple performances around the hub of a lobby enables a new opportunity to redefine the economics of theater. This is worthy of further exploration for future Redesigning Theater research.

Preliminary Potential Revenue Streams:

  1. Ticket Sales: Some options could include having one price for as many shows as you want (for example, $30 for the night). Another option could include a charge per show ($10/show, so if you want all three shows it is $30 for the night etc).

  2. Beverage Sales: One of the first activities attendees did was go to the bar for a drink. This seemed important for enjoying the night. Drinks offer high profit margins.

  3. Food Sales: Similar to Bar sales food provides potential revenue streams and the ability keep the party at the d.Lobby location.

  4. Swag: People loved taking photographs and discussed how this event was a special night for them. It seems that they would be open to purchasing photographs or swag to remember the unique experience.

  5. Corporate Sponsors: d.Lobby is new and fresh, and it is a great opportunity for brands to build a personal relationship with the consumer through a variety of sponsorship opportunities.

  6. VIP Services: People will pay to feel exclusive and special. You can charge for backstage passes, front row seating, bottle service, meeting the performers, and more for VIP packages or services.

  7. Commission on Other Shows Sales: d.Lobby holds the potential to be a great marketing platform for other shows. If the performers at d.Lobby sold tickets to other shows, d.Lobby could take a 10%-20% commission on all ticket sales sold.

  8. There is also a potential for income through daytime educational programs  from running classes to rehearsal space rental.

  9. Venue rentals from private and corporate events to event space rentals for other productions can generate additional revenue.

Possible Business/ Organizational Structures:

  1. A New Venture: d.Lobby could be launched as a new startup venture. The startup could possibly license the technology and/or concept (if necessary?) from Stanford. This would be highly press-worthy, and investors would likely be interested. d.Lobby could then move forward in experimenting with revenue streams while possibly benefiting from the University’s research.

  2. Business Vertical for a Theater Company: d.Lobby could potentially be a new department or business vertical for an existing theater company, such as SHN or ACT. This could be opened to experiment with this new format for entertainment.

  3. A Grassroots Movement: d.Lobby could register as a 501 c(3) charity organization and experiment if there is enough movement/momentum for performers and theater companies to volunteer to make d.Lobby a reality. This would only work if d.Lobby actually provided positive impact for the community (by for example giving lower income high school students opportunity to perform, etc..) and if d.Lobby provided enough ROI for the companies/organizations volunteering to support it.

  4. The d.Lobby concept could be applied much like the d.school and IDEO relationship where there is a mutually beneficial relation ship between a for profit professional theater and learning and experimental institute.

Next Steps for Prototyping Monetization:
We learned from the design school that the best way to see how much someone will pay for something is to see if they will actually pay for it!

People will often say they would pay more for a service or product than they actually will. The best way to prototype monetization is to experiment with different price structures and see if people actually pay. Our intuition is the first step for monetization is finding a price point and structure for ticket sales.

Further research and prototyping is needed to develop an in depth strategy for the monetization of this concept.

Comments are closed.