FROM TC: Musical America's February 2013 special report, "Ticketing: The New Age" includes a number of interesting articles, a few of which are excerpted below.
> Download your free PDF copy of the report here.
Commentary: Ticketing should be more personalized
By Roger Tomlinson, London-based management and marketing consultant
It's been some time since ticketing was just about putting "butts in the seats." Whereas ticketing used to close the sale, it now has the potential to start the marketing and sales process, initiating a chain of patron communication and recognition -- often mobile and personalized -- and leading to greater customer loyalty and higher sales. The arts and entertainment sector is behind in this domain. A 2012 study by GroupOfMinds.com found 44% of arts emails were opened on smartphones. Analysis by theaters for online sales has shown as much as 36% coming from smartphones. With most of today's major ticketing systems, it is possible to treat patrons as individuals, personalize messages to them - to relate. It's a practice known in the trade as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). To enter this world, start thinking of "winning hearts and minds," and ask yourself two questions:
1. The customer knows and remembers what his relationship is to you; does your organization remember what its relationship is to him?
2. If you contact the customer on his smartphone, you are reaching him personally; is your message relevant to him, specifically?
With the customer in control, he can "pull" the content he wants and your organization can "push" content specific to him and, ensuring it is presented correctly for the window view, make the experience personal. For instance, you wouldn't send the same message to subscribers as you would to single-ticket buyers. Many organizations avoid asking customers to log in until they are ready to complete a purchase. But the smartphone only requires the user to log in once, even if the user is navigating from Twitter or Facebook. The login goes straight to the organization's database, making it possible to send back content that is relevant to him personally. Most systems also let customers see their booking history, past and near future, and to manage their account for updating. With ticketing systems this personal, you can add value-added services to the ticket purchase, such as vouchers for program books, interval drinks, parking, and so on. Alerts can [also be sent about] traffic disruption expected on their route before a performance, or offers at specific restaurants for a late table booking. Technology, used smartly and creatively, enables organizations to be more open and accessible to their customers in a way most customers appreciate.
Commentary: Ticketing should be more social
By Ron Evans, California-based consumer psychologist & principal consultant at GroupOfMinds
In the early phase of web sales, buying a ticket was a solitary experience: go online, choose the seats, put in the credit card, and receive an email confirmation. Patrons could not see what others were purchasing (other than to see what tickets were going fast as fewer seats became available). Today, people are used to sharing their activities with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Buying a ticket now has the potential for social-media interaction. New statistics prove the increasing impact of the trend:
- Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals
- 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends
- 70% believe consumer opinions (from total strangers)
So social networks are an increasingly effective sales tool. But why? Human beings are influenced by a complex web of social norms. So social networks are an increasingly effective sales tool. But why?
Human beings are influenced by a complex web of social norms. Imagine that "John" has just purchased a ticket to a new musical. The ticketing system asks him "Would you like to share this purchase on Facebook?," and John clicks "yes." In John's newsfeed, a post goes live, telling his friends that "John has just purchased a ticket to Friday's performance of [name of show] -- would you like to join him at this performance?" Friends who click "yes" will be given the opportunity to buy a ticket to the performance John is attending, which in turn will generate a post to their friends, and so on. The built-in personal endorsement has vast marketing benefits, particularly as compared with generic audience marketing. Several systems offer the ability to connect to social media, but there is still a great deal of experimentation, and nobody has discovered the perfect formula yet. Should the post to one's social networks be automatic? Should patrons receive an incentive to post their ticket purchase or if a friend purchases a ticket? Ticketing-system suppliers are dealing with these issues in a variety of ways. Best practices have not yet been set, but you should know your system's capabilities, and keep an eye out for new methods as they evolve. The "virtual testimonial" has incredible value, and should be cultivated and encouraged wherever possible.
Commentary: Ticketing should be more data-driven
Dave Brooks, managing editor, Venues Today
Thanks to technology, it's now possible to adjust prices in real time; high demand on sales can lead to big incremental revenue boosts -- often in the six figures. At the same time, box-office professionals can collect valuable data at the point of sale, enabling them to filter out the white noise, accurately predict future trends, and allocate marketing resources accordingly. Tools like social media and data mining, using special algorithms and formulas, have replaced intuition, gut feeling, and general records of past buying patterns to price new shows. Plus, data-driven results can present a more compelling argument for the board of directors. "If history shows that the majority of tickets for this type of show move two weeks out from the performance, then there's no need to worry about slow ticket sales four weeks out," says Steven Roth of the Pricing Institute, an independent consultancy that offers arts organizations solutions for pricing their tickets. Here are some [of Mr. Roth's] pricing tips:
- "You don't want to raise prices when demand peaks, you want to raise prices before they peak," [he] says. The best way to predict a demand spike is to compare current sales to historical trends from similar performances and look for patterns that might indicate an upcoming spike.
- "Where people chose to sit is extremely important and says the most about their buying habits." Roth believes watching the way different sections fill up can gauge real-time demand.
- "Raising the price of the best seats makes all of the other seats more valuable." Studies have found that consumers associate more value with tickets that have wide disparities in price. A $100 mezzanine ticket earns a higher demand rating from consumers when the next price level is $250 for the orchestra, as opposed to orchestra tickets priced at $150. The wider the gap, the more likely a consumer is to believe he/she is getting a "better deal" -- and the more valuable the higher priced tickets appear.