Five Tips for Selling More Tickets
With today’s crowded media and entertainment landscape, arts organizations have a difficult time making their messages stand out. Here are a few low-cost ways to sell tickets faster—and smarter.
1. Skip the app and build a mobile-enabled site for ticket sales. During the app craze of 2011 and 2012, many arts groups invested in mobile apps that sparkled with cutting-edge design and unique content, but didn’t offer much in the way of functionality. Apple has millions of apps available, but most people use only a handful. A smartphone with different apps for each theater or concert hall can be clunky; better to focus your resources on a web site that is clean and simple to use on a mobile phone. By building a digital strategy around a mobile-based web site, you can gain a higher engagement rate—anyone with a phone browser like Safari or Chrome can access the site. And studies show consumers feel safer making credit card purchases over web sites than on independently developed mobile apps, which can suffer from security holes.
2. Look for brand ambassadors on social media. No one can market your events like your biggest fans. Center Theater Group in Los Angeles has created a social-media app that helps consumers broadcast their recent ticket purchases. “We’ve taken it a step farther and developed a calendar app for Facebook to help friends organize visits to one of our theaters,” said Dave Alton, chief information officer at Center Theater Group. “Eventually the organizer can decide the final date, and individuals can reserve tickets next to each other, using their own credit cards to make a purchase.”
3. List your inventory on ‘‘opaque inventory’’ sites like ScoreBig, Discounting last-minute tickets often has a double negative effect—it conditions the consumer to wait to buy, and it angers loyal consumers who purchased tickets in advance at full price. Sites like ScoreBig, created in 2011 by former NBA executives, allow producers to offer discounted last-minute tickets to a massive database of consumers who have opted in for weekly emails. ScoreBig’s sales team strikes deals with hundreds of show producers, rock promoters, and sports teams, purchasing ticketing inventory below face value. That inventory is then marketed to fans who signed up to be on ScoreBig’s email list, or have purchased tickets from ScoreBig in the past. Sites like Travelzoo, Goldstar, and Google Offers all offer similar services and can be a new avenue for customer growth.
4. Score new leads with a point-based CRM system. Thanks to the Customer Relationship Management software that is rapidly infiltrating major ticketing systems, groups can know more about their customers than any time in history. The trend of using digital tools to gather customer data on everything from purchasing history to donor habits will surely continue in 2013. Carnegie Hall has developed a CRM tablet app that alerts key staff when a patron scans his ticket at the door. It displays the price of his ticket so a sales representative or development officer can see what he paid for it. This in turn helps the sales representative to come up with the optimal pitch for a season renewal or a membership upgrade
5. Understand the customer life cycle and time your messaging. Faced with a declining renewal rate and a drop-off in single-ticket purchases, the team at the Chicago Symphony decided to dive deep into their box-office data and “flag people in our accounts and see where they are in their life cycle (relative to their relationship with the orchestra, that is), whether it’s to thank them for their support or ask them to recommit,” said VP for Strategy and Special Initiatives Kevin Giglinto. Renewals for first-and second-year subscribers went from a low of 45 percent to a high of 80 percent in 2012. —DB