Unobstructed: The Ritz-Carlton Experience w/ Antonia Hock (EP. 11)

Antonia Hock, Global Head of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, joined Mike Evenson on episode 11 of the Unobstructed podcast. They discussed Ritz-Carlton’s status as a culture-first and customer-centric organization that empowers its employees to innovate and create unforgettable experiences. Antonia shared why all staff members carry the Ritz-Carlton Credo Card and how it represents the heart and soul of their culture, values and service strategy.

They also talked about anticipating and adapting to changing customer needs in today’s virtual environment, strategies to cultivate loyalty and how carefully curated experiences – albeit digitally or in-person – can lead to dynamic transformation across brands.

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Episode transcript

Unobstructed: The Ritz-Carlton Experience w/ Antonia Hock (EP.11)




You're listening to unobstructed your view on the live events industry.


Mike Evenson: Welcome to another episode of unobstructed. I'm your host, Mike Evenson. Thanks so much for, for joining us today. I'm really excited about our guests today, Antonia Hock. I will give an overview of who she is and why we're excited to have her on the pod today. So, Antonio Hawk is the global head of the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center, where she leads a dynamic advisory business, focused on innovating the customer experience and talent experience for clients worldwide. Beyond her responsibilities with the leadership center, Antonia is a sought-after author thought leader and frequent keynote speaker. She's considered a global expert on organizational transformation, building experience-based brands, creating a culture of customer centricity, empowering employees, and issues around diversity in the workforce. Antonia, thank you so much for joining me.



Antonia Hock: Thanks Mike. It's an absolute pleasure to be here. This is such an exciting time to be talking about the topics we're going to cover today. It's just absolutely my pleasure.



Mike Evenson: So, before we get into the meat of things, can you just tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started?


Antonia Hock: I'll probably date myself here a little bit, [inaudible] a tech company, and then a lot of my career has been based around driving transformation with technology companies like Microsoft, Siemens and HP and about three years ago, I made the move to driving transformation, in service and culture at the Ritz Carlton. So, my background is full of transformation, which is really something I'm passionate about. So right now, a lot of the things going on in the world are very exciting to me, as difficult as they are on many fronts, I'm an eternal optimist so I see opportunity.



Mike Evenson: So, a lot of people are familiar with the Ritz Carlton brand as a whole, but not necessarily what the Ritz Carlton leadership center. And I was hoping you could tell our audience more about kind of that organization that you lead and really how it fits within the core hotel business.



Antonia Hock: Absolutely. So, the Ritz Carlton leadership center was founded to take all the best practices of the hotel brands and bring those to markets for different industries. So, we focused in on utilizing the [inaudible] card and a lot of the things that have really created a sustainable brand and the Ritz Carlton known for great experience and bringing those out through a consulting practice through a training practice and also public courses. So, we hosts, all of those different service lines with the express purpose of sharing those best practices. And really, if you look at transformation in the world of customer experience and driving digital experience, we have so much to share and we've really made it our mission. It's our passion to bring that to market.



Mike Evenson: Absolutely. And our audiences full of live event professionals. And obviously it's such an interesting time in live events where that customer experiences is evolving and given that in most States and around the world, kind of the live events that we've come to know, and love have been shut down. And while things are starting to kind of open again around the world, it looks very different and it will look different and one of the things that we've spent a lot of time focusing on is kind of how the leaders of these organizations are going to help transform kind of what it is that they represented before and how that's going to shift into the new world, whether that's changing the way they're going to share live events and entertainment to their audiences, how they're going to find new people what kind of programming, adjustments and evolution they're going to make. And so, these leaders of these organizations, I think have a lot to do right now, especially with everything that's happening, around the world in the United States specifically, how would you define leadership from your perspective.



Antonia Hock: Great leaders have a tool kit, right, that's strategic, but also tactical. Right now, the day to day, I think great leaders are depending on their ability to shift between those two strategic and tactical skill sets, probably more frequently than they ever have before. I think it's a great opportunity for leaders to balance business and painting a vision that is both hopeful, interesting, and compelling, and maybe even in the uncharted territory against, also to speed up action. So, I think we're seeing it accelerate that speed of action is becoming so important for leaders. Even before COVID we had 60 days, 90 days, a quarter, two quarters to drive innovation, to grow a business. Now we're getting two-week time horizon, three-week time horizon and we need to move rapidly. So, I think leaders today are being defined by our ability to paint a vision and then drive it through execution faster than ever before. Consumers really expect that right now. I also think success for sale and doing that in a way that's also deeply caring for individuals. There's a lot of uncertainty, so creating a safe space where people can explore as well as [inaudible] that action, very important for leaders. So, I think right now it's really a strong balance between strategic and tactical. I would also say really important skillset right now is what I call seeing around corners. What's coming. Leaders have to be able to look out and really guide their teams around corners that we can't even see yet that are coming so very important. And leadership has never been more important than it is right now for managers, as well as the contributors. Everyone is a leader.



Mike Evenson: Excellent point. I was just going to say that. Yes, I think that sometimes leadership is seen as more of a top down quality and that's just not the case leadership can come from absolutely anywhere within an organization. Really looking outside of business leadership, crops up and in all kinds of places. So, I totally agree with you and, looking around the corners. I think that makes perfect sense. And again, in the live events industry, that's never been more, more pertinent than it is now. Lots of corners these days. It's tough to categorize people and, and kind of give them a certain kind of moniker around leadership style, but do you believe in leadership style and if you do kind of, how would you describe your leadership style and how has that come to be from you, based on your past experiences that you just shared.


Antonia Hock: Sure. I think everyone has an inherent style. Human beings all do. No matter how you want to look at that in what pivot, whether it's professional or personal, everyone has a style. So, I think you've got to get behind that and really understand and have that self-awareness, I would say from my personal point of view. I thrive on ideas, so my leadership style is always going to be rooted in where we can find great ideas, and we were just speaking about it. Right now, I love, and I encourage everyone at every point, in my organization to bring forward great ideas. I think my team would say, I'm that leader that always says, what's your recommendation? What is your recommendation? I want to see, and I want people to take that, say, take the blinders off.


My personal style take the blinders off and really swing for the fences. There are no bad ideas. There's just creating vision in the future right now, thinking about what consumers want, what we want from each other, what we need from each other and activate that really rapidly my group, my team is an example. We spend a portion of our weekend, some of the calls we do together focused on the operation of our own business. We also have carved out time to do calls that are strictly focused on getting to know each other, building relationships in this new virtual world that we are in and ensuring that we have each other’s back as we are bringing new ideas to market. I think that's such an important part of my leadership style. Just making sure we have the boldness and the confidence to go out with ideas, and then everybody feels that's a safe space to do it. At the end of the day, that's what I'd want to be known for.



Mike Evenson: That's awesome. Yes, and totally agree. I think a lot of times there, used to be a sense that you don't blur the lines between business and personal. And I just think based on what you said and just kind of how the world is evolved, I don't know if that's possible anymore. And especially now that, in this moment, a lot of people are working from home and those lines have absolutely blurred when you have people's kids and pets and stuff showing up on video calls. I think it's more important than ever to understand and get to know your colleagues, because I just think it makes for better teams. For sure. Earlier in the pod, you mentioned the credo card and I wanted to bring that back up because our company had a user’s conference years ago and a speaker from your team, we invited to deliver the keynote and he spoke, about the credo card and it really resonated with our audience and those who would be listening to this podcast, because it just speaks to the role that everyone plays in creating a great customer experience. Can you tell our audience about the credo card and, and kind of what your perspective is on it?



Antonia Hock: So, our credo card is really the heart and soul of our culture, our values sort of strategy for the Ritz Carlton. It's a requirement for everyone, all of our ladies and gentlemen to have it on them as part of their daily uniform and just in general and part of how they show up at work every day. And what I love about our credo card is that it makes it unambiguous, what we all stand for, what our values are, what our service strategy looks like. And just how we connect to one another. So, there's an element of the credo card that is about how we care for our guests. How we care for our customers, but also how we care for each other and with the credo card being really the core of our culture, celebrating that every day is also part of our culture. So, during Moreno, where we really sit, and we talk about the values on that part and talk about how we're going to express them in a day to celebrate our best practices. We celebrate our opportunities where we really had a chance to shine on those values is also part of our culture. And I think right now, as an example of one of the values on that card, I can see you [inaudible] seek opportunities to innovate and improve the Ritz Carlton experience is one of our core values. And right now, especially as we're thinking about what happens next, opening up states, opening up hotels, opening up businesses, that opportunity to innovate and for individuals to take accountability, is so important. There's a big part of our Credo card that starts with the word I, it's about that individual accountability. And the other thing that I've always loved about the Credo card is it's action oriented and it's unambiguous. So having an individual look at that and think about how they can light up each of those values every day is really important to being clear and consistent, consistency is a big part of why we have a Credo card so that together we can deliver a great experience that feels on brands no matter where we are.



Mike Evenson: Yes, I love that. And it's interesting because the parallels there are parallels in the hospitality industry and the live entertainment industry that I'm picturing the Ritz Carlton on Wellington street in downtown Toronto which happens to be right across our office. And I think about all the different types of roles that people played to make a hotel experience great and you think about how different those people are and how different their roles and jobs are every single day what they're asked to do, but to have something that kind of ties every single employee together and believes in those values. And being able to bring that to life, I think is really a testament to your brand and your company for creating a culture first organization. And you guys count that. And I'm curious if you can share kind of what, what you mean by being a culture first organization.



Antonia Hock: Well, first and foremost, the culture is the heart and soul of any business, us or any other. And I really do believe that if you don't get the culture, right, and you don't have the right uniformity in terms of a vision for that, you'll never be able to deliver a great experience to your employees or to your external customers. So being culture first, really for us means that we're hiring people that share our values, they share a mission and they share what are the things that we hold dear on that credo card. We believe fundamentally that we can teach and train people to do a lot of vocational skills, but it's very hard to teach culture. We want everybody to find a great fit. Culture isn't about being exclusive. It's about being inclusive. It’s about finding a group of people that really share your view, your world view, in our case, I'm going to genuinely [inaudible] hospitality industry, being on that mission together, creates such a dynamic workplace, and it really creates a platform by which we can then elevate that customer experience. So being customer first, culture first is really also about being customer centric because you get on a mission with a shared purpose, and then they become unstoppable. You can just create such positive momentum and that's really, that's the pleasure of the Ritz Carlton, whether you are lady and gentleman employee or lady and gentleman guest.



Mike Evenson: The surprise and delight ability for every single person to feel empowered at an organization to create great experiences, it does draw so many parallels to the live event experience, and especially, in a night, at a place like the Ritz Carlton could be, just one of those things that someone looks forward to for months, cause it's such a special experience, no different than going to Hamilton or going, taking your child to their first concert or whatever it may be. And so those knowing that your guests are going through, hopefully those moments that are going to become lifelong memories is such an important role to play in making sure that those experiences are great. So, I'm sure that there's a lot of pride, not only in just the credo, but living it out. And so, I'm wondering, how you've been able to empower employees. A lot of companies have values. A lot of companies have mottos and, and words they live by. But filtering that down and embedding it into individual employees and empowering them to take actions is such a big part of your culture. I'd love to better understand and have our audience understand specifically how you do empower your staff to be proactive and to take accountability for creating that great customer experience at every single level. I mean, you've got people in, at a hotel that they're designed to be guest facing, but then you have lots of people who are in hotel operations and all at various parts, that don't necessarily, they're not their core job might not be to interact with guests. How do you get those individuals to buy into something like this and to action it?



Antonia Hock: So I think first and foremost, you hit the nail on the head, but there are so many organizations and we really see it when we go in and do consulting projects that have a mission and a vision and it's really beautiful and it's framed and it's on everybody's wall when it comes to actually living it and breathing it, day in and day out. It's not really a living and breathing entity, it's something a department cooked up and people kind of look at it, think it's pretty. And then go about their way, in their given business. What makes the Ritz Carlton different is that our values and our culture are something that we, because we are culture first and we are so committed to that day in and day out, we live and breathe it, it's just who we are as individuals, it's who we are as a company, that makes empowerment a core central feature of our culture.


So, I think it starts with that commitment to culture first. Empowerment from my point of view always starts there. We are so focused on creating a safe space where people can activate and engage with our guests on the hotel properties that you want to provide them with the resources to do that. There's a lot of organizations, that if you don't take manager approval or you don't go up the food chain to get approval, you get your hand slapped. The first step towards empowerment is removing that. You need employees to be capable, and you need to create policies in an environment where they can actually act on their own, without approval and that they have the resources to do that. Ritz Carlton is legendary for the $2,000 per employee ability to take care of any guests anywhere, any place at our business, that's our commitment to our employees, that they have that amount to spend, to create unequaled experiences, to make things right when they need to about first party resolution.


And all the studies show that if a guest, a customer, an audience member in your case has to go beyond their initial point of contact to get resolution, or even to be surprised or delighted, their satisfaction goes down substantially. So creating that world where everybody can be focused on bringing their own experiences, their own heart, their own soul, to creating a great experience for another person is very, very important, that nearly legendary, memorable, world class environment, that's going to make you stand out right now, more than ever. It's so interesting how empowerment and even the small things, when I first joined Ritz Carlton, I was staying at the Ritz Carlton in Dallas, I come in, it's 1:00am, I had been on a world trip, all day, it's pouring rain. It was just that travel nightmare, no one wants. And I turned into the Ritz Carlton, got up to my room and realized that I had one squeeze of toothpaste left in my toothpaste, just barely get me through, to go off to my meetings in the morning, which I did. But when I returned back to my room in the afternoon brand new, fresh tube of toothpaste laid out by my sink. And it was the exact brand that I purchased, and it stood out. It was such a small gesture, but that housekeeper had noticed I was out of toothpaste and took the time to replace it or something like that. That's four years ago. Now it's still by far my most memorable and meaningful experience and it came from the heart. And it was something I didn't ask for; it goes back to the anticipation of needs and her empowerment and ability to take care of me that way just really stood out. I think that's really the heart and soul of empowerment, genuine caring from the heart, and having a heart in a mission and vision for yourself that says you want to create that for others.



Mike Evenson: Yes, and it makes so much sense to what you're describing and preserving that, that memory and what took what was a bad experience or a difficult day for you that turned into something four years later, you can still vividly remember. Drawing back to live events and looking at kind of who's coming to your events and for the most part it's a big-ticket item. So, taking a family of four or whatever, to an event that that's not a regular occurrence for a lot of people. It is kind of that peak and when you think about what they're spending on tickets to the event and going out to eat before, maybe staying over in a hotel, parking and memorabilia and concessions and all that kind of stuff it does two things. One, it shows how many touch points there are, and experiences there are to make that night great. And also, if you look at an event organization or a venue or a hotel, all those various touch points that an event goer or a customer has, and you're absolutely right. If you don't create an empowerment, a culture of empowerment that allows each of those touch points to become a magical moment, you're putting that experience at risk. And so, I really love the fact that every single employee at the Ritz Carlton not only carries the credo around, but also, has that empowerment has that authorized capability to make those moments great. And sometimes just taking a bad experience and making a great, sometimes it's taking a great experience and making it even more unforgettable. I think that must be a really neat draw for the Ritz Carlton to bring, employees, to encourage people to want to work for that brand, I mean, you're one yourself.



Antonia Hock: Also, you just think about the joy you get when you come to work every day. And part of your mission is to create magic for people that's such an uplifting part of going to work. And we really I'd say it gets a little competitive that the Ritz Carlton, like who's going to have a better story by the end of the day for what they created or who they delighted, or what they turned around for someone who wasn't having a great day, it gets competitive in the very best way.



Mike Evenson: Absolutely. And I think that again, when you took a negative experience and made a positive or attempted to make it positive, I'm sure there's plenty of opportunities or times when it's really the thought that counts. And you think about kind of building, kind of customer stickiness and customer loyalty, and look you're in the hospitality industry and when you think about travelers, there's so many choices for where someone can stay and that environment has gotten even more competitive with the Airbnb's and [inaudible] of the world live events has become is more saturated than ever and also as is under attack from people staying home and now that people are forced to stay home it's become even more competitive. So, when you think about kind of how you create and cultivate loyalty, and this goes both ways, both for consumers and employees, how does the Ritz Carlton, how do you, activate strategies that cultivate that loyalty, how do you create that stickiness? So, someone says I'm a Ritz Carlton person, whether they're a staff member or a consumer?



Antonia Hock: I think there's a lot of elements here and I'll run through some of my favorites in just a moment. I also think we're going to talk a little later in the podcast about digital, and I think digital is certainly a component right now. We're seeing the digital experience extension of why engagement should go through a digital platform. I think that's super relevant when we start talking about the loyalty. Where I'm going with that is that fundamentally driving loyalty starts with understanding really have a finger on the pulse of your consumer and their preferences and right now, people have a preference for more digital, contactless engagement . I think there's a lot of elements there, but organizations have to understand changing demographics and changing consumer behavior very quickly. We talked at the start of the podcast about speed of action right now, consumer preference is changing so quickly really making sure that you can marry your strategy, your understanding of your consumer back to how you act, behave and what kinds of platforms, you activate quickly, really is fundamental for driving loyalty, having your finger on the pulse. Some of my very favorite levers around, loyalty and creating guests for life customers for life, people that are really invested in your venue or your hotel or your brand, or your experience, anticipation.


You talked a little bit about surprise and delight, which is a big part of the Ritz Carlton anticipating needs is a big part of driving loyalty. If you don't understand your consumer, it's very hard to anticipate their needs. So you've got to start there, but creating a culture where anticipation is important, being able to see when, I worked with a couple of retail clients and looking at their digital experience and utilizing consumer behavior on a digital platform to understand, how to come forward with the right, either next anticipated purchase or the right resolution for someone who's had a challenge that's really important. We're going to talk a little bit about one of my least favorite questions, which is how can I help you, because that's just a [inaudible] it's so much better to come forward and say, I see you've got two different sizes of shoes in your cart, can I help you select the right size? It shows you're paying attention. It shows you care it's back to the genuine care and comfort.


So anticipating a need it's very important to us, you're at our hotel, you have on running gear, you are probably going for a run, instead of asking how can I help you, we can provide you with a running map, a bottle of water, something that shows and expresses my connection to you and my understanding of your needs. Personalization is another very important lever. So, thinking about how do I create something that's unique to you? I'm looking at either your past engagements and creating something right by saying, Hey, I saw to welcome you back for this performance of Hamilton, when I saw that you you've been here last year, it's really great to see your family back, that personalization and that understanding of that behavior creates connection. And that helps drive loyalty, Acknowledgement of genuine care and understanding. I did my first flight last week, since this whole COVID lockdown, and I flew on American airlines, which is my carrier here in Washington, DC, and I didn't realize until I got on the plane and had my mask on, how challenging human connection is, and how starved I was for it and how isolating the experience can be right now, and I thought our flight attendant did phenomenal job of actually making it a standout experience, just a real genuine chair and taking such a terrible all of us on the plane, taking the time to ask us how we were doing just small gestures.

All those acknowledgements made all the difference to everyone on that flight, it really stood out to me. So, I think that sometimes those small things right now can make a huge difference in terms of loyalty, reinforce my commitments to make my next flight on American airlines. The last piece, I'll say innovation around driving loyalty. This is not an environment anymore, where what you did last month or last year or 60 days ago, is going to be good enough. We're working for brands right now, we're looking at your experiences right now, that acknowledge change that's happening around us, the movements that are happening around us the new health requirements, how are we innovating without losing human connection? I don't think we can underscore how important that is right now, whether you're trying to drive it through digital platform or in person, those small gestures that create connectivity between human beings, even if it's at a distance even if it's [inaudible], possibly we were talking about gestures greetings, how do you greet people in this new world where you can't touch them? And we came to a conclusion about hand over heart, how do you show a gesture that shows you care without touching someone.



Mike Evenson: Yes, I know and that, those are great. And I was remarking last, last week. I was pushing a cart through Costco with my mask on. And I realized as I was doing it, how much I use facial expressions to communicate with strangers and all of a sudden with that mask there, it just became that much more difficult. So, you're right. I think as brands, as experiences look to evolve and, and things are going to change. I think the human condition still requires, and we still very much crave that person to person connection. And so how that evolves will be kind of fascinating to watch. And it's great to kind of hear how you guys are thinking and how you've been coaching on how can we evolve our interactions and still keep that human connection there and maintain that loyalty. Earlier when you were talking about loyalty, I mean, the one thing that stood out to me that that is so fundamental and in the live events industry in making sure that you're creating great experiences and that you are not treating everyone the same, I think sometimes people look at a crowd at an event and they see just a bunch of faces, but the reality is everyone sitting there is different.


Everyone is unique and they want different experiences, even though they're at the same concert or they're at the same sporting event or musical, they all are different. Some people may have had to deal with the babysitter that night. Some people might be on a first date. Some people might be with a group of friends and the importance of data and collecting that data and then using and actioning that data is so important. You mentioned, being able to see someone and being able to in the moment, recognize that they might be a runner and being able to string those things together, to create these memorable experiences and create these experiences is really important for these live event organizations to create stickiness, given how much competition there is out there, you did say something about how can I help you, which I think is really interesting because you have been critical about that because it does seem reactive. So, I'd love to ask you, how do you flip that around? How do you go from saying, how can I help you? How can I make your night more memorable? You know, and to flipping it around and asking a different question or making a statement, what does that look like? If it's not, how can I help you?



Antonia Hock: I think it starts with two things. And one you already mentioned, which is understanding the data, right? Being able to understand who you are, [inaudible], who your audience numbers are, where they are, right? So you can identify, you can use that data to enhance their experience, but it also starts with observation being in the moment and paying attention to small reading, human behavior, reading cues, and making sure that you're paying attention to those cues, create opportunities, so keen observation and good use of consumer data and married together will allow you to create more personalized to the anticipatory questions. Instead of having to rely on a throwaway, I'll go back to my American Airlines experience, it created a moment for me that was unexpected. When I got off the plane, I had to connect and I had to connect in Dallas and when I got off the plane, but this hasn't happened to me in forever, there was a gentleman at the gate that had a sign, that has my name on it and I thought I'm either in a lot of trouble here or like something's about to happen to me and American Airlines had identified that I was traveling on that airplane, I had status, and I was going to have to make a terminal change in Dallas, not just walking through the terminal, but a terminal change, to catch my next flight.


And they had sent someone to make sure that I understood how to change terminals in Dallas. And I thought that was such a great example , it cost them very little, a paper sign and dispatching a human being to spend a few minutes with me, but it made such an impression on me because they used the data that they had to understand, I was on that plane, and understand that I was going to have to make a terminal change. And they actually took the data actioned on it and sent somebody who was very personal, asked how my journey had been, asked how they could improve and then made sure I understood about changing terminals. It’s a small thing but wow, it made a huge difference, it was something totally unexpected for me on my journey. So, what's a good example [inaudible], how can I help you? They used the data at their disposal, and they created a person.



Mike Evenson: Yup. That's really good. I think with airlines starting to be operational, obviously hotels are our industry is just starting to wrap our heads around the curtain going up and a lot of organizations are kind of battling with this consumer fear around going back to live events in tight spaces without a vaccine widely available. And one of the things that, these live event orgs need to do is build trust. They need to, it's really I mean, cleanliness of buildings and accessibility has that, all those things have always been top of mind and obviously overall safety, but there's a new kind of personal health and safety requirement that in our polling we've shown that consumers really aren't planning on coming back or they're very hesitant until the vaccines are available. So, what advice would you give to our audience on ways to build trust with their customers, kind of during these, these types of situations?



Antonia Hock: I think there is obvious one that I think everyone's following. Social distancing. You hit the nail on the head being very clear about cleanliness being very clear about the overall approach, I would say in general, being proactive and thoughtful about your strategy and getting people back into line defense that they love human beings love that opportunity to see their favorite concert, being a party of a live performance with your friends and family and loved ones, engaging moments, but to get back, the first step has to be absolute clarity on the strategy, what can people anticipate and expect from coming back into a line venue, knowing that they'll be safe and comfortable. And I haven't seen yet a lot of broad reaching statements about what that strategy is, what the experience will be like down to the granular details.


And then thinking about how you get people comfortable is that a concierge where you're going to dispatch, people get familiar with [inaudible] a crew of people there that are committed to coming to a concert, and making sure that they take them to the space where they're going to be comfortable. I saw a picture, the other day from Brooklyn, where there were actually circles and groups of people that needed to stay inside of their circle at a park. So I'm thinking about that for a wider venue, you can put people into a circle, and create this really cool pattern on the floor.[inaudible] It will give people that safe space as long as they stay inside their circle and provide social distancing. So, we think about strategies like that and being clear, showing pictures. Yes, we're going to talk a little bit more in a moment about creating great experience. Right now, sight and sound, are so important, because touch and even to a large extent smell is out from an experiential standpoint. So, creating, some sight guides, being clear about that. So, it's going to make all the difference to how we get people confident and comfortable to come back.



Mike Evenson: Yes, thanks for that, makes a lot of sense. I'm picturing a new kind of mosh pit when concerts open again, you never know what kind of artistic expression we might see that changes what mosh pits are. But over the past few months, the consumer behavior is fundamentally changed, and it will leave a lasting impression, on commerce in general, on experiences, live events. What do you think the shift in consumer behavior means for live event professionals? When they're looking to start reopening their venues? Like what are the few points that you think these professionals should be thinking about based on the consumer behavior that is shifted in a post COVID world.



Antonia Hock: I think that diversifying revenue streams, is really important right now for everybody's survival. Reopening, a live event venue, no question, but thinking about those people who are uncomfortable and no matter what you do with your strategy or your social distancing, won't be ready for a while. How do you create a magical experience for them that's inclusive? You can have your live audience, but how are the people that maybe want to watch digitally? How are they going to participate? Live streaming's been around for a long time, right? But that's not the same as creating an immersive experience that's going to get people, to pay a premium ticket price for digital experience. So, thinking about how to create packages, or maybe, fair as an example, season ticket owners, do you have an opportunity to put a camera on the seat right.

And they're not going to sit in their [inaudible] but they can actually see the view that they expect from that seat and you wrap it around some other experiences, whether it's food or a meet and greet before the performance, whether it's an opportunity to be inside of a live chat room with other people that are also going to be doing it digitally and create communities that can view it together and diversifying revenue streams so you're thinking about the live audience, people who are ready for that, but also people who are going to want to have a new versus digital experience in the near term will be important to announce at the reopening of venues and ensuring that these great experiences a lot of people and certainly clients are thinking about that right now, it's not just about the reopening it's about long term survival under market and consumer behavior will be forever altered by the events that we've been through. And then again, back to being an eternal optimist, this is an opportunity for choice and to be more inclusive and potentially to meet new audiences, [inaudible] otherwise might not have an opportunity all the way around for people to think about new ways to show up.



Mike Evenson: Absolutely and choice and you've seen this in sports, sports has been kind of ahead of the curve with regards to needing to broadcast that content to people in their homes. And you've seen a shift where the only way to watch a game used to be, you had to be there. Now that's changed and people's kind of behaviors have changed as a result. And I think what we're going to see here with at least with the NBA, it's going to be very interesting to see how the television experience changes without fans and whether that will have a long term effect on kind of what the viewing experiences at home versus what that in person experience, stadiums were stadiums and then, and then cameras were there to, to, to kind of give people a taste of what the stadium was like. Now we're going to see it the opposite. We're going to see this thing is going to be produced for television the NBA playoffs and what is that going to make the in-person experience like? And so, are they going to be in harmony? Are they going to be competing? It's going to be fascinating to see, but hopefully it will give people choice because some people just need and love that live experience. So, I'm seeing innovation in live events happening right now. And it can go in a number of different ways, but why do you think now is the perfect time to be a leader in your space, whether it's a live event space or anywhere like, like why in these moments, why is it so important or such an opportunity for someone to step up into a leadership role?



Antonia Hock: Well, this is the opportunity to create a future. It's so rare that we are given apex points in the market or apex points in the world where individuals, no matter where they sit in an organization or organizations together have an opportunity to write the future. I look across, it's such a fascinating time right now, from a go forward standpoint. It's been incredibly painful and very difficult. If we look over the past 90 days, the past hundred days, the past 120 days, but going forward, we have the opportunity to create the world that we want to be a part of in any market, whether you're retail, live events finance, auto, aviation, we can brighten the future and how rare a gift is that for any individual anywhere. I find it really exhilarating and empowering. That sense of [inaudible] that each of us has the ability to make that huge impact. So, more people focused on driving that future, creating it right, creates such positive momentum that we all want to be a part of. So that's why this is such an important time for all of us.



Mike Evenson: And one of those ways could be bringing your industry and my industry together. How do you see, and how would you like to see kind of the travel and hospitality industry and the live entertainment industry come together and work more closely? Do you think there's more of an opportunity there than, than maybe has occurred in the past?



Antonia Hock: Yes. I think getting people out comfortable traveling again, you need a reason to travel and you seeing a great performance being part of a sporting event. Well, being part of an opening being there for the premier of a Sarno someday in this world right now, such a memorable moment, there's such an opportunity create an end to end experience whether that is an in person travel experience and a live digital experience, either of those could be a phenomenal opportunity to create some real continuity to get people out and get people engaged in their avenue of choice.



Mike Evenson: Yes, I absolutely think so. I've been on that bandwagon for a long time. In fact, it worked a long time ago where there was a ticket and hotel package that was offered. And I think everyone was expecting that it would be the out of towners that would be buying those packages. And it turned out it was the opposite. It was people within a 30-mile radius of the event who are actually buying that hotel package. And so, it goes back to what we talked about in creating great experiences, anticipating, understanding what's around those corners, knowing, who your customer is and how you're going to create those magical moments. And it's not always, as you would assume, which is why it's so important to continue to learn about your customers, empower your staff. Antonia, I really appreciate you taking the time to come on Unobstructed. I would highly recommend if you're a live event organization who's in need of a jolt in need of kind of a re-planning is to look at what Antonia and her team offer with the Ritz Carlton leadership center. There's a lot, I think that can be applied in the live events industry, Antonia, thank you so much for joining and really appreciate it.



Antonia Hock: Thank you, Mike. It was a pleasure.


[00:51: 10]

Mike Evenson: Thanks again, to Antonia Hock, the global head of the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center for joining on Unobstructed today. Some great points from her and, and always look at the Ritz Carlton experiences as one of those to emulate. And hopefully if you're listening to this, you can take some nuggets away and think about, what is it that we want to transform when, when the lights go on again, and people start coming into our venue or, how can we empower our staff at all levels and all types to have the customer experience front and center and feel empowered to create those unforgettable experiences. And we all know that live events are unforgettable, and they will be unforgettable. Again, it's hard to believe that we're in double digits now on the Unobstructed, it's really been a joy and a pleasure to talk about our industry and to speak with so many great individuals, both inside the industry and outside to create a vantage point on what live events will look like moving forward. And it's also good to see us going through these different phases. It's good to see different parts of the world having live events, no doubt they will be different, but we all will get back together sooner rather than later. Thanks again so much for being a listener and looking forward to talking to you soon.



Announcer: Thanks for listening to Unobstructed your view on the live events industry. Subscribe today, wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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