Published on February 5, 2014
◊ Custom tabs are content areas you create within your mobile app, as opposed to content areas already provided in the InstantEncore control panel. Custom tabs enable you to share special information to help patrons plan their visit, enhance the audience experience, promote special programs, and much more. The following examples come from performing arts organizations using either the InstantEncore PRO mobile solution or the TN Mobile Plus service provided by Tessitura™ in partnership with InstantEncore. Examples from TNMP apps are designated with ◊.
* Many performing arts organizations present multiple performances connected by a common theme and grouped together as a festival or a season-long series. Merkin Concert Hall groups together a subset of performances on its schedule under the banner of the New York Guitar Festival. By creating a custom tab for NYGF, the hall is able to brand the festival within its mobile app while providing a list of associated events with links to more information.
* Whether you have a formal gallery space or use your lobby to exhibit visual art like the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, creating a custom tab for your exhibits is a great way to provide your patrons with viewing hours, information about the work, artist bios, links to audio tours, and more.
* Audiences welcome the opportunity to meet artists and speak with them about their work. If your organization hosts events to connect patrons with audiences, then a custom tab is a great way to highlight these events within your mobile app. Cal Performances clearly displays a list of Artist Talks as a custom tab in their app, so that their mobile patrons will be more likely to participate.
* Like many performing arts organizations, the Alley Theatre and State Theatre of New Jersey include arts education as an integral part of their missions. Correspondingly, these organizations use custom tabs in their mobile apps to spotlight their arts education programs and partnerships within their local communities.
* Are you training the next generation of artists? If so, then you should let your mobile patrons know about your course offerings. Berkeley Repertory Theatre uses a custom tab to provide patrons with information about their School of Theatre. Alabama Dance Festival uses custom tabs to share their various course tracks, give details for individual classes, and provide links to where you can register online.
* Many arts organizations use online publication services like Issuu.com to host copies of their print publications online and sharing them through digital channels. With InstantEncore, you can link your mobile app to the URL for an online publication and have it display as a custom tab. Detroit Symphony Orchestra hosts their digital season brochure and fiscal year report on Issuu, then they use the URLs to share the publications in their mobile app as custom content tabs.
* While InstantEncore provides its own streaming audio service and integrates directly with YouTube and Vimeo, arts organizations use a wide range of online services to host their multimedia files. As with digital publications, you can connect your mobile app with URLs from other services to establish those web pages as custom content tabs. For example, Kansas City Symphony hosts their audio podcast on Soundcloud and connects their profile on that service directly with their app as a custom tab.
* At any given performance in an arts venue, there will undoubtedly be new audience members who may be unfamiliar with the etiquette and conventions of attending a live performance. Calgary Philharmonic and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra provide guidance to new patrons with answers to frequently asked questions, such as: • • • • • Where do I get my tickets? What should I wear? When should I arrive? When do I clap? Can I bring my camera?
* One of the more popular custom tabs among performing arts apps is a tab for providing directions. While each event in apps powered by InstantEncore has a Google Maps link for its venue, organizations like Houston Ballet and Sangamon Auditorium also include directions tabs in the main menu for their apps in order to provide their patrons with the fastest possible access to directions.
* Once they have the directions to your venue, where should your patrons park? Opera San Jose provides a custom tab listing nearby pay parking lots and their locations. Aurora Theatre has a free parking deck with a separate street address, so their custom tab has the Google Map for the parking deck embedded within it. Patrons are able to get directions to the parking deck from wherever they are at that moment.
* Is it possible for your patrons to get to the performance by public transportation? Why not make it easy for them to determine the fastest route? Arena Stage created a custom tab for their mobile app that links to the mobile website for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, where patrons are able plan their trip to the theatre.
* For outdoor events, it is important to let your patrons know in advance what to expect if it rains. Boston Landmarks Orchestra uses a custom tab in their mobile app to give their patrons all the information they need in the event of rain.
* In order to have the best possible experience at your performance, patrons with accessibility challenges need to know what accessibility features and services will be available on-site. Ticket Omaha uses a custom tab in their app to detail the accessibility features available to patrons at the two venues where their events take place.
* For performances with assigned seating, patrons would like to see where their seats are located in the venue – especially if they purchased the “best available” tickets. State Theatre of New Jersey includes a custom tab for seating charts in their mobile app with links to images for both the Orchestra Level and the Balcony Level.
* Many arts centers and performance venues give tours of their facilities to share the building’s history, highlight architectural details, demystify the production process, discuss artworks, and more. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts uses a custom tab in the mobile app to highlight what elements are revealed during the free tour of their center and to tell patrons how to sign up for a tour.
* So you left work later than expected, and you need to rush over to the theatre to meet your friends before the show. But you’re so hungry! Wouldn’t it be great if you could open the venue’s app and see what’s available to eat at the theatre? Berkeley Repertory Theatre uses a custom tab in their app to provide a sample menu for their concessions.
* Still hungry? Berkeley Repertory Theatre also uses a custom tab to share a list of restaurants near the theatre, describe the cuisine they serve, indicate if there is a discount when you show your tickets, address links to Google Maps, and the ability to tap-to-call the restaurants for reservations. Attending a live performance is part of an overall experience for the evening, so why not help your patrons plan the rest of their evening?
* Many patrons travel significant distances to attend live performances. After having dinner and seeing a show, those patrons may wish to stay at a nearby hotel rather than drive back home so late in the evening. Sarasota Opera uses a custom tab in their app to provide their audience with a list of hotels in the area and identifies which hotels have special rates for their patrons.
* You have the ability to connect each performance listed in your app with a link to where tickets may be purchased online, but you may also want to provide general ticketing information in its own area of the app. 7 Days of Opening Nights uses a custom tab to spotlight general ticketing information: multiple purchase paths, box office hours, processing fees, exchange policies, and more.
* Do you provide special rates for groups? If so, consider including a custom tab in your app like Alley Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre to highlight your group sales program to your mobile patrons.
* Most performing arts organizations would like to convert their singleticket buyers into season subscribers. Of course, your audience needs to know about your subscription program in order to become subscribers. Westport Country Playhouse spotlights their subscription program in their mobile app with a custom tab to break down the subscription options and underscore the special benefits for subscribers.
* Nonprofit arts organizations rely upon donations from individuals in order to keep providing access to amazing performances. Whether you accept donations via PayPal like Bach Collegium San Diego or you have a robust donation management system like Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, it’s always a good idea to let your mobile app users know how they can donate to your organization’s work. Apple does require donations to be processed outside of the app in an external browser. Click here to learn more.
* Sponsors and advertisers are looking for visibility among your audience. Custom tabs are a great way to give them that visibility. State Theatre of New Jersey uses a custom tab to list all of their advertisers and links their websites. Sarasota Opera also uses a custom tab to spotlight their season sponsors. If you link out to advertisers and sponsors, let them know in case they have mobile-specific links that they would like for you to use.
* Some arts organizations have special donation partnerships wherein the arts organization is given a special URL to share with their patrons. When the organization’s audience uses the special URL as the entry point for purchases, then the arts organization receives a donation from the partner company. Austin Symphony Orchestra has this type of partnership with Amazon, so ASO has created a custom tab in their app to share that special URL with their mobile patrons in a user-friendly manner.
* Email based marketing remains a strong communication channel for arts organizations. Do not assume that everyone who uses your mobile app is on your organization’s email list. Bach Collegium San Diego uses a custom tab to include the form for signing up for their email newsletter. In this example, they have established an external link as a custom tab. If you choose to embed a form using our HTML editor, be sure to toggle the checkbox for “Use advanced HTML mode for this tab.”
* While the Profiles tab provided by the InstantEncore system can link out to your social media profiles, some arts organizations prefer to add specific social media profiles to the main menu for their app by creating a custom tab for the profile. Third Angle New Music does this for their Twitter profile. Practically all social media sites are optimized for mobile display, but be sure to test the link to your profile on a smartphone device. If it does not display in an optimized manner, you may want to use a mobile-specific URL. Such as http://m.facebook.com/acct.
* Perhaps the most important custom tab you can add to your mobile app is one containing contact information for customer service. Make sure that it is as easy as possible for your patrons to contact your staff.
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