UK's largest theater owner launches loyalty card

David Benedict, Variety, 11/9/11

Ambassador Theater Group, the U.K.'s largest owner-operator of theaters, has launched the U.K.'s biggest theater membership campaign with its new Theater Card. The first such program to operate nationwide, the card offers benefits to auds at any of the group's 39 theaters (including its 11 West End houses), from the 2,296-seat Apollo Victoria ("Wicked") to the 96-seat Trafalgar Studio 2, as well as the Lyceum ("The Lion King"), the Savoy ("Legally Blonde") and Donmar Warehouse. Cardholders have access to priority tickets, offers (including half price on selected shows), priority brochure mailing, fee-free ticket exchange, 10% savings on pre-show and interval drinks and free cloakroom use; there are no booking or postage fees on most shows. Members will also be able to attend special events such as launch nights and Q&As with cast and creative teams. The card costs 30 ($48) and allows customers to buy up to four tickets per show from a dedicated website.


'Audience Rewards' loyalty program launches in Chicago, 10/25/11

Broadway In Chicago [has launched] Audience Rewards for the Chicago market. This is a national loyalty program for arts fans that began in New York and is now named "The Official Loyalty Program of Broadway," attracting over 1 million members. The program allows audience members to earn points redeemable for show tickets and other memorabilia and merchandise. The program, which began in 2005, has more than 1,000 new members joining daily and is the first and only loyalty program of its kind. Members are able to take advantage of hundreds of point-earning offers and ticket redemptions, and gain insider access to special events and advance ticketing for new shows nationwide. In addition, Audience Rewards members can also earn and redeem partner points for their theatre ticket purchases with other rewards programs such as Starwood Preferred Guest, Delta SkyMiles and Best Buy Reward Zone.  Membership in Audience Rewards is free. Local arts fans who sign-up will receive points for purchasing tickets for participating Broadway In Chicago shows at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Bank of America Theatre, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. These points can then be redeemed by members for participating shows in Chicago or at over 30 participating shows on Broadway in New York.

FROM TC: Audience Rewards is also working in Arizona (Tuscon), California (L.A., San Diego, San Jose), and North Carolina (Charlotte and Durham),


Commentary: Data from loyalty programs can play crucial role in CRM strategy

Anah McRae, Blackbaud Knowhow blog, 10/20/11

According to a study by the CMO Council, respondents indicated their primary reason for joining a loyalty program - a whopping 70% - was savings. Not far behind [58%] were individual deals and more benefits. When you're developing a loyalty program, it's important to think about what you want to offer: Are you going to present it as a savings option?  Will your loyalty program translate into better seats or upgraded subscriptions? If you are awarding points for giving, what do these points get donors?  Discounts on tickets and subscriptions are important, but do you really want to discount seats? If not, what do you offer?   People want individual treatment and more benefits. Through a loyalty program, you can not only track attendance and giving but also see a patron's affinity for the organization. Using points not to offer redemption for tickets or merchandise but to move people into higher priced seats or early subscription renewal gives patrons another, equally important reason to join. What are patrons willing to do to get discounts and benefits? They will share their correct [contact] information every time. Consider these points from Information Management:

"Data from loyalty programs can play a crucial role within a larger CRM [customer relationship management] strategy. Loyalty program databases are generally the most complete, robust and easily accessible in the enterprise. Customers opt in to trade information for value and allow you to track their behavior with the expectation of mutual gain. Likewise, loyalty analytics - the art and science of analyzing customer data to identify, maintain and increase the yield from your best customers - can be the centerpiece of your approach to analytical CRM."


Commentary: What role does the customer's age play in loyalty to an arts org?

Will Lester, TRG Arts blog, 10/7/11

Among many arts organizations it is commonly observed that a large proportion of their patrons become more loyal, active, and valuable around a certain age. Usually, this occurs when patrons' kids leave the house. They have more free time and have access to more disposable income. As you might imagine, today is the prime time for Baby Boomers, a large pool of 60 million. Our audiences will begin to look quite different as the Boomers fade from the scene. A troubling statistic is the number of Gen X-ers in our population: 20 Million -- 1/3 of the population of Boomers. As Boomers are replaced by a smaller pool of Gen X-ers, marketers will need to get smart about marketing tactics and their patron loyalty strategy. So what's the solution?  Targeting and multi-channel strategies utilizing messages relevant to the patron's level of experience will become supremely important and must replace the "spray and pray" practices of the past. Amelia Northrup wrote earlier about the importance of turning to direct, targeted strategies, as well as tying interactions in to your database. Your first instinct is probably to [get] new audiences in the house, and preferably younger audiences. Are new audiences important? Yes, but re-focus your energy from getting them to come once to getting them to come back. Nationally, TRG analysis shows that 80% of all new single ticket buyers never return for a second visit. Use the time you have now to develop disciplines and activity around retention. It will serve you well today and be vitally important in the future.


Commentary: How do you assess loyalty in the arts?

Full Houses blog, 10/14/11

How do you assess what is working in a loyalty program? Of course, the first thing to decide is how you measure success. It is often suggested that a loyalty program is working if it accomplishes at least one of two objectives: (1) clients are either holding onto their customers longer or, (2) are getting them to spend more with the brand.  Kobie Marketing believes that there is only one variable for measuring loyalty -- engagement.

"Engagement is a minimum threshold variable that can measure individual member's contributions to the program's bottom line. In other words, if a member has an actively engaged relationship with the brand and program, we should measure their contribution. If the relationship is passive, we say don't include them in positive performance metrics."

McKinsey in The Consumer Decision Journey discusses these different kinds of loyalty:

"Of consumers who profess loyalty to a brand, some are active loyalists, who not only stick with it but also recommend it. Others are passive loyalists who, whether from laziness or confusion caused by the dizzying array of choices, stay with a brand without being committed to it. Despite their claims of allegiance, passive consumers are open to messages from competitors who give them a reason to switch."

This suggests that we may need the reality of a harsher measure of loyalty in the arts and entertainment to move beyond the false expectations of a fickle passive loyalty. Much of the shadow audience can only be considered passively loyal and the audience attracted to one of your shows only when it is a hit is at best - passively loyal. Actively loyal supporters are more valuable as they will support the challenging rather than just the easy or safe bets. I have seen it quoted we should measure audiences not by tickets, but by customers. The view above adds another qualifier to measuring audience loyalty to only actually counting those actively engaged.

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