Raphaëlle Plasse
Director of Programming | Paris La Défense Arena

“2023 will be the most successful business year for Paris La Défense Arena since it opened its doors in October 2017 with three Rolling Stones concerts. Overseeing bookings and operations at Europe’s largest indoor arena is Raphaëlle Plasse, who says more than 1 million people will have attended events at the building by the end of the year.

She remembers the lead-up to opening well. “Two months before, the roof hadn’t been set up, while we were working on hosting one of the biggest bands in the world with a very heavy stadium production. It was the most challenging event I ever experienced.” The hard work paid off, Plasse says. The Rolling Stones shows, which attracted a total of 105,000 spectators, represented her biggest accomplishment and most memorable concerts to date.

When overcoming challenges, “Teamwork is everything,” Plasse says. Over the past three years, especially, “We have tried to maintain a very strong team spirit. It has been very helpful when someone was feeling low, and it has been the best way to keep being creative during some very challenging times.”

One of the big projects of 2023 included increasing the capacity at Paris La Défense Arena from 40,000 to 43,000. Shows that already benefited from the bigger audience this summer are P!nk, Guns N’ Roses, and Imagine Dragons.

Plasse observes an interesting trend: “During the past 20 years, standing general admission was the standard. Only a few shows, aside from theater configurations, were all-seated configurations. But the number of all-seated configurations and VIP-Lounge experiences and packages has increased strongly.” She says that started just before COVID and has only increased.

“Spectators are looking for a very unique experience; they do not want to lose time by coming early, but they still want to be close to the stage; they want to stay standing during the show, but they prefer to buy a floor-seated ticket to have a great location in the building. Spectators want to have it all and they are ready to pay for it.”

She confirms another trend: blockbuster shows and A-list acts selling out immediately, while the smaller and middle-sized shows, notwithstanding their attractive ticket price, struggle. “It’s called ‘the place to be and to be seen effect,’” Plasse explains.

Looking ahead, she says, “Our industry is struggling with keeping an attractive average ticket price; artists requesting more innovative production, which is more expensive; increasing revenues; and touring more sustainably. The only way to get through these challenges is to work closely together, and make sure everyone is on the same page, from the artists to managers, agents, promoters, ticketing companies, providers, and venues.”

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