3 tech advantages every company should adopt

A conversation with CEO Aaron Skonnard & StubHub President Scott Cutler


“What would you rather have: a live experience or a thing?”

This is the question StubHub President, Scott Cutler, asked—and was astonished at the answers. “What people are willing to give up for a live experience to see their favorite band or team play is A LOT,” Scott explained in his on-stage conversation with Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard. “People want to have meaningful, live experiences.”

During this session of the 2017 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit – which brought together technology leaders from Domo, InsideSales, Entrata, Qualtrics, Pluralsight and more – Scott and Aaron discussed this “experience economy” and how strategic technological moves have enabled StubHub to gain an unparalleled customer base and deliver an unbeatable user experience. Scott credited that success to three distinct tech advantages. 

Leverage data: An important technological distinction & competitive advantage

The increasing role of data is undeniable as more and more companies are scrambling to hire data teams and use their findings to make more calculated business decisions. Scott shed some light on how StubHub is leveraging data as a competitive advantage: 

“We’re dealing with an asset [event tickets] that operates on time. And we want to unlock the view into where the market price is [for tickets] at any point in time. If you’re a seller in that market, we want to be able to use the data on every single ticket and reference that data across the event, the lineup, the section, the row, and tell you what price you should list that ticket to make sure it sells.” 

“We couldn’t do that without a massive amount of plowing through data and servicing that data in a way that is actionable—right there in the platform, in the experience. Therefore, we have a massive team of data scientists. We comb through billions of lines of data, and it’s really a key differentiator for us. The future for our business is how can we manage big chunks of inventory for those that have big inventory positions like a team, league or artist. Our data becomes our advantage.”  

Digitally transform: Changing how people interact with the platform  

When it comes to online services, the success of a company goes much deeper than just what’s on their website. It’s about the entire experience and journey the buyer takes. Scott discusses how one small change resulted in almost a billion dollars in added revenue:

“People want the best price out there. So, we changed how we displayed the first price people saw on our website—and it ultimately translated – in one year – to almost a billion dollars in additional sales.” 

With one change in the platform, StubHub was able to give their users more of what they wanted—seeing the least expensive price first.  

Additionally, maximizing the mobile experience and rising to the growing demand of instant customer gratification is increasingly important.

“We’re dealing with a world that doesn’t think about going [to an event] in advance. They think about it right before it’s happening and there’s an expectation [to be able to go]. Thirty percent of our sales are within the last day of the event." 

Take Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for example:
“We sold millions of dollars in transactions within the last two hours right before the game started. And every single one of those transactions was done on a mobile device. You could go onto the [StubHub] platform, buy a ticket and walk in using mobile entry. At that stadium for that game, we seated more than 30% of that venue via StubHub. We had buyers from every state and 18 countries, so the business was global and it was way beyond Chicago and Cleveland. And even as global and great as these franchises are, none of them could get exposure to that breadth of a customer base we have built out by having a great experience that enables [anyone] on a mobile device, anywhere in the world.” 

Embrace new technology: Making virtual reality a business reality  

Another huge opportunity Scott saw for StubHub was the use of VR (virtual reality) as he questioned what it would be like if customers could actually get a life-like view of their seats rather than the static, standard seat map we’re all used to.

“What would happen if we provided an experience where you could look up, down and around [your seats]? So, when people went through the transaction flow, we added an icon [using VR] so they could look at where they were sitting—and they transacted at a higher rate.” 

“This VR thing for us is a big part of our business now. It’s not just a side experiment—it’s literally a part of the transaction flow. It’s a real, practical implementation of VR so you can actually tell what your seats will be like.” 

Scott also alluded to what’s next for StubHub in the VR realm, which goes way beyond just looking at your seat view. 

“We sent Google Glasses to our best customers and gave them a VR video experience of going to a festival. We’re trying to show them that experiencing something live could actually be something different. It could be an e-game, an avatar—we’re delicately playing between virtual and live.”

All in all, the general feeling at the Silicon Slopes Summit was one of embracing change rather than fearing it and using technology to maximize experience, which in turn, only drives business.

Scott added one final sentiment. “You have to be able to respond in a marketplace very quickly because disruption – even for a company of our size and scale – is around the corner. Somebody could out do us tomorrow with a better experience.”

Learn more: Silicon Slopes Tech Summit



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