Discounting tickets is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Having trouble selling tickets to a show or performance? Discount the tickets to make it more appealing. It seems as if it should be as simple as that, but as with anything in life and business – it isn’t. Rather than simply discounting ticket prices, there should be a solid strategy behind the way you’re discounting your tickets.
So how do you develop your pricing strategy? Which shows should be discounted? When should you be announcing the discount?
The truth is that there is no cookie-cutter solution for developing your strategy. It will naturally be different for every venue, just as every venue out there is unique in its own way. But there are a few things that every live event venue should think about when beginning to develop and implement their pricing strategy.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
First things first – do your research!
This should almost go without saying, but before you can re-evaluate your pricing matrices, you have to first evaluate your events! It’s important to identify which shows are selling the most tickets, which are underperforming and the most – and least – popular times for these particular events. Are Saturday matinees selling the most for kids shows? Maybe Saturday evenings are selling the most for musicals? Are your weekday shows struggling?
Once you analyze this data, develop pricing matrices to help you understand exactly where your events stand, which shows are thriving and which might need a bit of help to fill those seats.
It’s not just about lowering ticket prices
After you get all of your research down on paper and your pricing matrices set up, you can dive into the good stuff: experimenting with seat pricing optimization. This strategy of creating specific pricing around certain seats has really taken off, and is something that we’ve seen work on countless occasions. A theater that we work with changed their blanket ticket price of $40 to between $20 and $70, (depending on the seat), and incorporated pricing based on section, day and time. They jumped from a 50 percent fill rate, with a $1,500 average nightly box office total, to a 97 percent fill rate with an average nightly box office total of over $5,000. They did so well, in fact, they had to move to a theater with more seats.
You can get extremely custom in your approach by offering certain seats at discounted prices, which can cater to every type of customer: attract new customers with discounted seats, give your die-hard fans access to “premium seats” and reward your loyal customers with VIP programs.
Time is huge
Timing is a crucial aspect of your pricing strategy. If you always wait until two or three days before your show, your customers might develop a Pavlovian response of waiting until the last minute to buy their tickets. This can muddle your insight into event attendance and also can wreak havoc on your forecasting and cash flow. Set your discounts to begin two to three weeks before the actual event – that way you sell more tickets earlier and have more insight into attendance.
Keep in mind, this definitely is not a perfect science. But take that as an opportunity to get creative and try some new things!