The Hyper-Convenience Economy Is Coming

Wandering around the trade-show floor of a recent technology conference, I saw dozens of startups showing off their best new ideas. One company in particular jarred my expectations of what convenience is all about: Filld, “the free app that fills your car with gas.” According to their website:

Filld is the last mile mobile fueling company that delivers fuel to vehicles, so drivers and fleets never have to stop for gas again.”

The company’s mission? To “liberate drivers from the inefficiency and stress of the gas station so they can spend time on the more essential parts of their day.”

And this is by no means the only company with this business concept. It got me thinking about the nature of convenience in our society. Frankly, I never much considered going to the gas station as a major inconvenience, so the idea of building an entire business around solving that problem seemed incredible.  

Another idea along these lines, announced recently, is the Amazon Go store — a convenience store where you simply pull items off the shelf and bypass the checkout counter. Items are automatically scanned and charged to your account since you pair your phone with the store upon arrival. Amazon says it may have some 3,000 of these convenience stores open in the next few years. And in a September article, The New York Times reported on Standard Market, a startup that’s operating a similar concept in San Francisco today.  

What’s clear is that what used to be considered convenient is no longer going to be good enough. We’re moving to a world of hyper-convenience. That means your patrons will begin to be more and more annoyed at things that are not convenient.

Let’s talk about some of these within the arts experience. Think about all the lines we ask patrons to stand in: the line to get into the theatre, the line to buy a drink at intermission, the line to check your coat before the show. I would argue that each of these things is an inconvenience that you should start thinking about eliminating.

Of course, each venue has its own physical challenges, so some of these may not be practical. But for decades now, patrons in London’s West End have ordered intermission drinks in advance, and those drinks are there waiting for them at intermission. Why isn’t this common practice here?

The coat check may be harder, but let’s rethink it. Why do we make people wait on line? Because we want to pay only one or two people to man the booth? Why not get a slew of volunteers who stand at the front door of the theatre and take your patrons’ coats, hand them a claim ticket — and they take the coat to the back and hang it up. Yes, you’ll need more people to make this work, but what’s the upside in terms of convenience?  

In this coming age of hyper-convenience, we’re all going to have to re-evaluate the things that our patrons experience and look at them through a new lens — which brings me back to where we started. How about having your car filled up with gas while you’re at the show?

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5 responses to “The Hyper-Convenience Economy Is Coming

  1. I agree with Gene’s points here that arts organizations need to think about our patron experience in new ways. There has been a focus on digital convenience, but the physical things make a huge impact. Our venue does allow for intermission drink-ordering in advance (many places in Seattle do, actually), and I think we can go further in making our audience experiences better!

  2. Gene, I had to type my reply to this message. Very inconvenient. Seriously, you are right on. Much of the Ticketing technology we have developed in recent years is still inconvenient to use. After inconvenient we go to obsolete.

  3. Convenience is absolutely the way of the future. Patron should, however, walk the walk. Just in the past few months key parts of Patron’s technology went from being included to costing thousands of dollars. The new credit card (Blue Fin) processing increased our accounting time five-fold. The new customer service program was rolled out on zero notice. Customer service has a 2-week turn-around for fixing a tech problem from a tech company. Getting faster service now costs more when it used to be part of the paid contract (that was changed without negotiation). None of the changes were communicated. None of this is convenient for the customer, let alone hyper-convenient. So when exhorting Arts organizations to look at ways of being more convenient, one of the first things I’ll be looking at is a technology provider who delivers for us and for our customer. That includes convenience, being cost-effective and having mutual respect. Yea, you’re right. I’m annoyed.

    1. I assume the “key part of Patron’s technology” you’re referring to is the data services they had been providing through Validity. Validity is the one that increased prices – it has nothing to do with Patron. (I’m a customer, too, not a member of their staff.)

    2. Hi Craig — thank you for your candidness here. Our leadership team will be reaching out to you directly to discuss further.

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