Communicating Access Information Using Pre-Show Emails

Rachael Norris
Rachael Norris
  • Updated

All customers benefit from receiving clear, timely information about their upcoming visit to your organisation; however, it’s arguably even more important that your access customers know just what to expect in advance of their arrival.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can use pre-show emails to ensure your access customers receive all the information they need, as well as some smart ways to go about communicating this.

NOTE: the same Spektrix functionality allows you to set up and use post-show emails as well, but for the purpose of this article we’re focusing on pre-show emails only.


What are pre-show emails?

Pre-show emails are integrated mailings that Spektrix can automatically send out a predetermined number of days in advance of each performance. These allow you to communicate lots of useful information – whether that’s simply a reminder of the date and time of the event they’re attending, or additional information around how to find your venue, where to park, and what your drinking and dining options are.

As with any integrated mailing, you’ll need to create your campaigns within dotdigital; once these have been made, you’ll then set the rules as to when they’re sent in Spektrix. More information on setting up pre-show emails can be found in our article on pre- and post-show emails, while we’ve highlighted a few access-specific points about the process in this section.


How can pre-show emails help with access?

It’s likely that your access customers will have more complex needs than your other customers; as such, it’s vital that they know as much as possible about what to expect before they visit your organisation. Including access information in your pre-show emails not only shows you’ve been considerate of these needs, but it also allows you to include information specific to the particular event and/or venue they’re attending that might not otherwise be readily available on your website.

There’s a lot of different information you might want to provide for your access customers. Some things to consider would be:

  • Car parking: is there a particular place that access customers/Blue Badge holders can park? Is disabled parking limited?
  • Venue information: is there an alternative entrance for customers with mobility issues? Is there a hearing loop at the box office?
  • Specific questions: how can customers get in touch with you if they want/need to discuss anything specific before they visit? Consider having a number of different contact methods available here, as opposed to just a phone number to call during box office opening hours

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so it’s worth taking some time to think about what specific things access customers visiting your organisation might need to know.


Taking things further with dynamic content

You can only ever send one pre-show email per Instance – if an Instance falls into multiple rules, the first rule will apply, including any customer exclusions you have set. No emails will be sent again for that Instance after the first email has sent (i.e. if people book for an Instance after the pre-show email is sent, they will not receive an email).

This means you can’t have separate emails just for your access customers. Instead, you can set up a single pre-show email campaign which contains different information depending on whether each customer has access requirements or not.

This is done using dynamic content, a tool which allows you to tailor your dotdigital campaign so that different recipients receive different content, images, copy, or calls to action, based on criteria you choose. In this case, the criteria would be whether each customer holds a particular Tag against their record or not.

Using dynamic content you can send one campaign with multiple targeted messages for different groups of customers, safe in the knowledge that each group of customer will see the message appropriate to them.


Example: Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre have a great example of the use of dynamic content in their pre-show email campaigns.

Customers who don’t have any access requirements flagged will receive an email that includes this section on car parking:

Customers with access requirements will see this alternative section instead:



If you’re just getting started sending pre-show emails, there are a few things you’ll need to set up before you can get cracking. We’ll go through some of the key points to think about, and link out to more detailed articles where appropriate.

If you’ve already got your pre-show emails set up but want to start using dynamic content, you can skip straight to this section.


Setting up pre-show emails

Firstly, you’ll need to be using Spektrix’s dotdigital integration in order to send these emails; if you’re not already doing so, have a read of this article and then contact the Spektrix Support team to get this set up for you.

Assuming you’re all set up to use dotdigital, the steps to take for getting set up with the basics of pre-show emails are as follows:

  • Set up merge fields in dotdigital, so you can personalise your emails by automatically pulling through Event name and date from Spektrix
  • Build your campaign(s) in dotdigital as you would with a standard integrated email
  • Set the rest up in Spektrix, including which email address(es) to use for notifications, global customer criteria for sending, and rules for when to send and to whom

This article on pre- and post-show emails explains how to set all of this up, but we’ve picked out a few key points worth thinking about from a specific access perspective.

  • You’ll probably want to add your email address to receive confirmation when pre- and post-show emails are sent; just separate each email address with a comma
  • Global criteria: it’s important to make sure you reach all of your access customers, so consider whether you need any global criteria set. Remember, you can always set customer criteria when creating a rule, ensuring any pre- or post-show emails that contain marketing content are only sent to people who’ve opted in

Sending alternative pre-show emails for accessible performances

If you have specific accessible performances (such as signed or captioned performances) you might want to make sure that all customers who attend these Instances - whether they have access requirements or not - know what to expect, and have all of the information they need.

Using an Instance Attribute to highlight these performances, you can set up an alternative pre-show email rule with that Attribute powering its Event criteria. This way, any customers who book for your accessible performances (i.e. any Instance with that Attribute) will receive a variant email rather than your standard pre-show email.

NOTE: as only one pre-show email is sent per Instance, this alternative email will be sent to everyone attending the accessible performance.

You’ll need to set up an alternative dotdigital campaign to use with this rule, but you can fill it with all the relevant access information that everyone attending your accessible performances will need.

Here’s an example of a rule using an Instance Attribute called BSL alongside a specific Event, so that it catches all Instances of that Event which have been flagged as being access performances:

You’ll then need to set this alternative pre-show email rule to be at a higher priority than the rule for standard pre-show emails for All My Sons. Set rule priority using the yellow up and down arrows:


Setting up access-specific dynamic content

Rather than including all your access information in every pre-show email, you can start adding dynamic content into the relevant campaign in dotdigital – blocks of text or images which will only display to customers who fulfil certain criteria.

This Support Centre article goes into greater detail of how dynamic content works, and explains how to set it up – in both Spektrix and dotdigital. From an access perspective, however, there are a few points worth considering in further detail.


Tag Groups

It’s really important to note that you can only sync one Tag Group with dotdigital, and you can sync up to 100 Tags with dotdigital – if any team at your organisation is already using dynamic content and/or dotdigital’s Programs tool, this Tag Group will already be set up. Even if no one is currently using these bits of functionality, it’ll still be worth having a conversation across departments to ensure you’re all on the same page going forward.

NOTE: Tag names in the dotdigital sync Tag Group must not exceed 16 letters in length. If there are any spaces in the name, these will be changed to underscores in dotdigital. So, a Tag named Access Customer will become a Contact Data Field named TAG_ACCESS_CUSTOMER in dotdigital.


Using Tags to identify access customers

For dynamic content to work, you need to determine who should receive each of the different types of content by setting customer criteria. From an access perspective you want to have a single Tag (ideally an Auto Tag) which you can sync with dotdigital, and which you can use as the customer criteria for your access-specific content.

If you haven’t already, we’d recommend reading this article about how to identify your access customers and their needs, and in particular the sections about using customer-facing Tag Groups. Following these guidelines means you’ll have a series of Tags capturing a variety of access requirements for your customers – you can then create an Auto Tag (within the Tag Group you’ve synced with dotdigital) which looks for any customers with one or more of your access-specific Tags on their customer record.

You’ll want to set up this Auto Tag with a Customer Segment featuring the Tags metric with all the Tags from your access Tag Group. This should look something like:

This Auto Tag will then work like a catch-all for your access customers, and be automatically applied to any Customer with one or more of these Tags. When you sync this with dotdigital, make sure you set it up as a Yes/No data type, with the default value set to No.


Creating dynamic content in dotdigital

In the dotdigital Easy Editor, you can add a dynamic block in the same way as you would any of the standard building blocks. These blocks will consist of three main aspects:

  • Default Content: the content that your customers see if none of the rules you set apply to them. This can be blank if you don't want customers to see any content by default
  • Variations: the alternative content that you want to be seen by customers who meet specific criteria set in your rules
  • Rules: the criteria you set to determine which content customers see; either the default content, or a variation

In the Chichester Theatre Festival example we looked at earlier, this might be set up as follows:

  • The Default Content is the standard information about parking in the area
  • The Variation is the additional information for Blue Badge Holders, as well as the standard information about parking in the area
  • The Rule is anyone who has an Access Customer Tag (mapped to dotdigital as a Contact Data Field)


Following the guidance in this article, and the specific information in the setup articles we’ve linked out to, you should have everything you need to be able to use pre-show emails to communicate all of the relevant information to your customers with access requirements. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Spektrix Support team, however, if you have further questions, or would like to discuss anything from this article in more detail.