Jun27

Record-breaking Nutcracker: $1.3 million increase in two years, breaking $8 million for the first time

 

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

“What’s the big deal about a ballet company having a successful Nutcracker?” you may be asking yourself. “We all know that holiday programming practically sells itself.”

It’s true that holiday programming attracts a large audience and has huge revenue potential. It also means that the stakes are high. Holiday events often make or break an organization’s revenue budget. In many cases, holiday programming can account for over 50% of annual earned income so even a one percent achievement over goalor an equally “small” misscan add up to big dollars.


Posted June 27, 2016







Jun14

Turn up the heat on the holidays


Forget about Independence Day. Start thinking about Black Friday.

If not, you could be missing out on your biggest opportunity of next season.

The holiday season starts NOW for arts managers. Don’t let the heat of summer lull you into thinking holiday shows sell themselves—there’s a lot to do. It’s time to dust off and refresh your marketing plan for The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, your holiday concert, or whatever hot ticket event you have this December.

In this free one-hour webinar you’ll hear from arts marketers like you who have maximized their holiday programming and gone on to break revenue records. Just when these arts administrators thought their perennial programming couldn’t garner any more, new highs were reached. These experts as well as the consultants from TRG will share the newest best practices for turning up the heat on the holidays.


Posted June 14, 2016







Jan08


Lindsay Anderson
VP of Client Development
What motivates someone to attend a concert? And, more, importantly, what drives them to attend again and again? Arts managers (and patrons themselves) often cite price as the main and biggest incentive for arts attendance. Certainly price plays a major role in a customer’s decision-making process. 

But pricing doesn’t mean anything unless it’s attached to value. It’s a two-sided equation, with price on one side and demand—how much a patron wants the experience—on the other.

Luckily, you have tools that can sweeten the value proposition for your audiences. Ticketing inventory, historical data, discounting, and the choice and timing of programming can help you incentivize audiences to engage with you again and again.


Posted January 8, 2016







Dec16

Like most people who work at TRG, I love data. One of my favorite activities near the end of the year is to open up Google Analytics and see which blog posts, case studies, and other content were most popular with our readers.

The top content from our blog reflects the topics which we see getting the most attention in our industry today. Some topline observations:

  • The topic of subscription and the evolution of the arts business model continues to inspire research and dialogue.
  • We see more interest every day in data and how arts professionals can use it to make decisions.
  • We’re hearing and thinking more about the relationship between marketing and other departments and how organizations can build patron loyalty collaboratively.
  • The topic of pricing and its impact on patrons seemed to be more often discussed this year as organizations balance revenue and accessibility.

Find below the eight most-read insights from TRG this year. We thank you, our readers, for continuing to read, share and respond to our content this year!


Posted December 16, 2015







Oct21


Amelia Northrup-Simpson

Are you a contextual marketer? Probably.

Chances are, you’re doing some form of contextual marketing already. If you’re a marketer, you’ve made some effort to understand your patrons and match their needs to what you’re offering.

That’s all contextual marketing is: matching the customer’s circumstance to the business’s circumstance.

To determine a customer’s circumstance, you first want to look at their past behavior. Then you can determine how that might align with what your organization is offering.


Posted October 21, 2015







Oct20

This is the final video in our series on the 6 metrics that arts leaders should be tracking and managing

Measure What Matters: 6 Metrics Arts Leaders Should Track

Metric #6: Per capita revenue

Is your arts organization generating the most revenue it can for each event? There’s a way to measure that! In this video, Lindsay Anderson of TRG Arts explains how to figure out if your pricing strategy is causing you to lose money, and common causes of lost revenue due to pricing strategy.


Posted October 20, 2015







Oct15

92% jump in subscription packages


One marketing person. A box office director. An executive director. These positions made up the core of the administrative staff dedicated to Newman Center Presents, the performing arts presenting program of the University of Denver. Yet, this three-person team was nimble and efficient. They made small changes and, even with limited budget, saw big results.

Newman Center Presents hired TRG for a full suite assessment, focusing on pricing practices, inventory management, and season ticket campaign design.


Posted October 15, 2015







Sep10


The biggest takeaway from this webinar? Don't panic.
Photo: Tom Page (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Is that discount you're offering helping or hurting your organization? In this webinar, Anita Hansen of TRG Arts and Laura Beussman of Blackbaud discussed when, why, and how to discount effectively. A good discounting and package pricing strategy can drive patron behavior and help you maximize revenue for your organization. 

Watch the recording to learn how to offer discounts without devaluing your product, how to use pricing to develop patron loyalty, and how to empower your teams to recognize the right time for the right offers.

Click through to access the recording.


Posted September 10, 2015







Aug04

New subscribers triple in one year


Washington Pavilion's production of Elf

Washington Pavilion, located in a beautifully renovated historic building in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is one of only a few facilities in the world to bring together under one roof the performing arts, visual arts, interactive science, and educational opportunities. Washington Pavilion is TRG’s only client with an active patron base from all 50 U.S. states, plus multiple provinces in Canada. This multidisciplinary model strengthens the organization’s audience development potential. Yet the model is a challenge in complexity on both the patron and administrative sides. 


Posted August 4, 2015







Jul28



 Stephen Skrypec
Head of Sales and Marketing
New Wolsey Theatre
Lindsay Anderson
VP of Client Development
TRG Arts

“Our patrons won’t pay that…”

“Everyone wants to sit in this section…”

Our assumptions about what our audiences will and won’t want or do can stop us from pricing to optimize revenue for our organizations. But we don’t really know until we look at the data. Ignoring what patron data tells us about pricing can lead arts organizations to leave money on the table—money that could be sustaining their mission.

At The New Wolsey Theatre in the U.K., small changes to pricing strategy resulted in big revenue increases. In just nine months, the company reported a 31% increase in box office gross—without selling more tickets. In this free webinar, New Wolsey’s Head of Sales and Marketing Stephen Skrypec and TRG’s VP of Client Development Lindsay Anderson shared how the theatre updated daily practices and challenged prior assumptions about audiences, leading to their success. Learn how arts organizations, whether in the U.S., U.K., or elsewhere, can use pricing to drive patron behavior and revenue.

Click through to read more and view the video.


Posted July 28, 2015







Jul21

Photo by opensource.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ever read an article on pricing in the arts and wish someone could translate it into plain English? There are a lot of specialized terms to describe pricing tickets to seated events and figuring out what prices should go where in a venue.

There’s no Google Translate for pricing jargon yet, but below is a basic glossary we originally published for our recent case study with Dallas Theater Center. We recently revised the list with even more pricing terms, provided by our consulting team. If you'd like to impress your box office colleagues, make your industry friends jealous with your vocabulary, or simply confuse your significant other when you talk about pricing, read on. 


Posted July 21, 2015







Jul06

31% one-season increase in box office gross

Photo by Mike Kwasniak.

In 2014, the New Wolsey Theatre was re-examining its financial picture, focusing on its earned vs. contributed income streams. Like many theatres in the United Kingdom, government funding still accounted for a significant proportion of their revenue. Over the three years prior, they had received moderate funding cuts totaling approximately £50,000 (around $79,000 U.S.).

 

Located in Ipswich, Great Britain, the midsized regional theatre produces a spring and autumn season, as well as a Christmas show, with a mixture of both home produced and touring product. Many of the productions were selling well, which left Head of Sales and Marketing Stephen Skrypec wondering what the theatre could do to grow earned income.

 

Stephen: We’d become as efficient as we could in the rest of the business; the only place to reduce spending was in artistic and we really didn’t want to do that. For earned revenue, I had done standard things I felt I could do—making sure there were more tickets available at the top price and making sure every single seat was sold when it could be sold. I’d gotten to the point where I’d done all I thought I could do to maximize revenue. What do I do now?


Posted July 6, 2015







Jun18

Humana Festival audienceMany organizations track data on pricing, audience retention, and audience response to different types of artistic programming. But what happens when an organization looks at these categories together, holistically? That’s what Actors Theatre of Louisville did. What they found led them to begin to manage demand, cultivate audiences, and approach the strategic planning process in a completely new ways.

This is a story about how data can re-focus an organization around audiences, and how Actors Theatre of Louisville is acting on that data. Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein and ‎Jim DeGood of TRG Arts gave this presentation at the 2015 Theatre Communications Group, detailing how Actors Theatre of Louisville has translated data findings into a plan, how leadership is re-aligning around data and audience loyalty, and some initial results from their efforts.


Posted June 18, 2015







Jun05

19% increase in average subscription revenue


The Situation:

The cast of DTC’s production of
Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Photo by Karen Almond.

Dallas Theater Center (DTC) hired TRG for capacity building consulting in November of 2013. DTC faced challenges with pricing, in particular reinforcing loyalty through pricing. Founded in 1959, DTC became a resident company of the new state-of-the-art AT&T Performing Arts Center in 2009. The new venue’s flexible mainstage, the Potter Rose Performing Studio at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, enables DTC to configure seating differently for each production, from 1 to 573 seats. DTC also produces in a traditional 99 seat “black box” space at the Wyly and at its original home, the 491 seat Kalita Humphreys Theater, the only freestanding theater designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Posted June 5, 2015







Mar18

11% per capita revenue increase



The Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Featured is the set of
OSF’s 2013 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
In 2011, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) faced a crisis. During a performance of Measure for Measure in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, staff members heard an odd noise. They discovered a large crack one of the main ceiling beams in the theatre. As a result, the Angus Bowmer Theatre, one of OSF’s three venues, had to close for repair just as summer (the most in-demand time at the festival) was beginning. The marketing team decided to refund tickets if patrons did not want to attend shows in the other venues, as a part of OSF’s ongoing commitment to excellent customer service. The refunds contributed to a 27% drop in single ticket units and an 8% drop in overall admission revenue.

“Throughout the crisis, customer experience was our main concern. We based virtually every decision we made on how it would affect our patrons’ long-term relationship with OSF,” Mallory Pierce, OSF’s Director of Marketing and Communications, said.

Historically, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was financially and organizationally strong. Sound budgeting and fiscal management procedures combined with generally strong attendance enabled the organization to grow even during the Great Recession with performances regularly sold at greater than 80% capacity.

Posted March 18, 2015







Feb06

This blog post is cross-posted to the Patron Technology blog.


Is the subscription dying? And if so, what’s killing it?
Photo by ASJ8 via flickr.

Is the subscription dying? And if so, what’s killing it? Whether your own subscription program is healthy (some are!) or on life support, its future depends in part on your audience and in part on how your organization acts. With subscription renewal time on the horizon, let’s look at some of the ways that arts organizations can kill their subscription programs:

1. Delay announcing your season.

Give patrons the least amount of time possible to subscribe or renew their subscription. If your season starts in the fall, announcing in late spring or early summer should work. Patrons buy late anyway, so why does it matter? Don’t try to negotiate or advocate with your artistic leadership about your deadlines. 

Do this instead: The more time you have to sell, the more you sell. Starting late is a sure-fire way to lose revenue. Early may not be the right time for every patron to buy, but it is right for some. If the artistic director is not ready to announce all the events in your season, compromise by sending your announcement with TBAs. Many longtime subscribers will renew even if they don’t have details on specific events or dates, because they trust your organization.


Posted February 6, 2015







Jan13


The Orpheum Theater at Omaha Performing Arts, 2014.
Photo by Jodi Hauptman Drannen.
Pricing strategies can have great impact on deals and revenue for both agents and presenters. In the middle of this mix is the audience and their behavior that either creates demand for your performances, or leaves you with a lot of empty seats. Jill Robinson of TRG Arts, Jackie Knobbe of APA Agency, Jeremy Ganter of Mondavi Center, UC Davis, and Joan Squires of Omaha Performing Arts discussed the ins and outs of maximizing revenue and developing audiences through pricing and scaling in this session, presented at the 2015 APAP conference in New York City.

Posted January 13, 2015







Dec16


Director of Consulting
Lindsay Homer

December 16 at 2 EDT/11 PDT

Edit: Thanks to everyone who attended this chat! Click through to read the transcript.

As the calendar year comes to a close, many arts organizations are starting to plan renewals and finalize pricing for 2015-16. If the thought of re-scaling and seating subscribers seems daunting, chat with others who may be working out the same issues you are. Join TRG’s pricing expert Lindsay Homer and moderator Amelia Northrup-Simpson to discuss topics like:

  • the scale and price point changes you should consider this year
  • building dynamic pricing into your plans
  • strategic discount and inventory management policies

Posted December 16, 2014







Jul31

You may call it pricing.

We call it demand management.

The choice of words matters less than the practices arts managers maintain as part of their working discipline.

Smart technique and tactics like dynamic pricing can get you immediate infusions of income. Managing demand and its associated revenue, Jill Robinson, TRG’s President & CEO, recently told organization leaders at our July Executive Summit “is an evergreen administrative practice that must play a role in sustainable revenue.” It is a strategic skill set that can enable arts staff teams to follow patrons’ desires to deeper engagement, greater investments, and ultimately, the revenue – working capital – that helps organizations thrive.


Posted July 31, 2014







Jul22

July 22 at 2 EDT/11 PDT

Edit: Thanks to everyone who attended this chat! Click through to read the transcript.

Ready for the kick-off of your season or fall events? More importantly, is your pricing strategy ready? Tune up your thinking and practices in this hour-long Twitter chat with industry colleagues, TRG pricing expert Lindsay Homer, and moderator Amelia Northrup-Simpson. We'll discuss topics like dynamic pricing, discounting, managing inventory, and more. Bring your own favorite pricing ideas and the burning pricing strategy questions you’ve always wanted to have answered.


Posted July 22, 2014







Jul08

Data-driven hard work worksLast month, I wrote about the overwhelming amount of data produced by the sophisticated database systems now common in the arts industry. My commentary on the “analysis paralysis” that can result caught the attention of many of our readers. We’re glad, because 20 years of consulting work has taught us this: data-driven hard work works.

Data-driven hard work works

It is hard work to develop a loyal, sustainable audience base. There are few shortcuts. However, a focus on the right audience data can guide your efforts. That’s why I urged you in my last post to “stop studying everything.” Then you can minimize distractions and direct your time, energy, and hard work on efforts that will help you achieve your audience goals.


Posted July 8, 2014







Jun09

Carmen sells out, single ticket revenue 33% above goal


Carmen at Pensacola Opera: Audrey Babcock as Carmen, Chad Shelton as Don Jose, Anne Slovin as Frasquita, Eamon Pererya as El Remendado, and the Pensacola Opera Chorus.
Photo by Michael Duncan, featuring Audrey Babcock
as Carmen, Chad Shelton as Don Jose, Anne Slovin
as Frasquita, Eamon Pererya as El Remendado,  
and the Pensacola Opera Chorus.

Pensacola Opera is a $1.3 million organization which stages two productions a year with two performances each. For the past several years, the company had been focused on institutional stabilization—paying off debts, completing a capital campaign for establishing cash reserves, bolstering its endowment, and making capital improvements. In the meantime, the company was having trouble consistently meeting revenue goals for their productions.

To Executive Director Erin Kelley Sammis, it was clear that the company needed to shift its attention to growing sustainable patronage and revenue. In the summer of 2013, Sammis engaged TRG for a consultancy that would begin by focusing on increasing single ticket revenue and volume. 


Posted June 9, 2014







Jun05


President & CEO
Jill Robinson

Every organization has critical and very accessible database information that provides indicators of growth and sustainability. Jill Robinson, President and CEO of TRG Arts, presented TRG's most actionable Thrive Metrics at ArtsPride New Jersey's Thrive Conference at Princeton University. This presentation will tell you how to find these data points and what the research says about using data to stimulate engagement and nurture relationships with patrons. 

Want more information about the most important metrics you can study? Read Jill's recent blog post, Data that Matters: 3 Metrics to Grow Audience Relationships.


Posted June 5, 2014







May20

TRG's VP of Client Services Keri Mesropov, along with Heather Calvin of Boston’s Museum of Science and Jessica Toon of EMP Museum presented a session entitled “What Price is Right?” at the American Alliance of Museums 2014 Annual Meeting & Museum Expo in Seattle, WA.

This session explores how museums can use demand-based pricing strategies to set admission prices, service fees, discounts, and membership levels. Keri, Heather, and Jessica provided practical grounding and new ideas to help museum leadership determine what visitors should pay.


Posted May 20, 2014







Mar11

94% of subscribers now subscribe to full series


The Situation:

Exterior of the Dofasco Centre for the Arts, the primary performing venue of Theatre Aquarius.
Dofasco Centre for the Arts
With the economic downturn that began in 2008, attendance and revenue at Theatre Aquarius began to decline. As the decline coupled with the financial recession continued into the spring of 2011, General Manager Lorna Zaremba hired TRG Arts to analyze the theatre’s situation and improve revenue.

This analysis revealed that there were entire elements of the Theatre’s business model that were missing, which influenced an atmosphere of waning loyalty, specifically among subscribers.


Posted March 11, 2014







Oct16

"Pricing decision-making can be subject to emotional, political, and reactive forces within an organization," TRG's Director of Consulting Lindsay Homer said in this week's webinar on pricing. "None of these forces are productive, especially if your strategy is built on fear that your prices are too high or too low or worse yet, based on assumptions about your patrons."

The webinar, entitled "3 New Rules for Pricing Right," focused on proactive ways arts managers can manage pricing strategies based on data for best results with patrons and visitors. Director of Consulting Lindsay Homer distilled two decades of TRG's ground-breaking pricing counsel and today’s dynamic technology-driven trends into a new strategic playbook for pricing right.


Posted October 16, 2013







Sep27

Glass half empty or half full?
Photo by Kalyan Chakravarthy via flickr
A recent You’ve Cott Mail round-up of articles about re-defining the arts experience

included a range of opinions on how art should be experienced, curated and critiqued. After it ran, a friend asked me about an area not touched upon: whether the patron experience is affected by capacity sold. 

In other words, is the audience sensitive to the fullness of the hall—and how might that affect their experience?

TRG’s take is that an individual’s experience is greatly affected by the number of people who are around them. Close proximity of patrons to other audience members (as well as to the performers) can create a powerful sense of belonging.

Posted September 27, 2013







Sep06

TRG Arts has been busy teaching this summer on the road and on the web. We’ve rounded up our most recent insights from last month below, in case you missed anything:

The Art of the Upgrade

President Jill Robinson gave a webinar hosted by Blackbaud last week about increasing patrons’ investment in and loyalty to arts organizations through upgrading.

“The best way to increase loyalty is to ask the patron to take the right next step with you. That’s what we call upgrading,” Jill said. “That right next step is different for each patron. And the right next step is informed by information in your database.”

The most recent version of this webinar is now available here.

Slides from the presentation:
 

Posted September 6, 2013







Aug28

New subscriptions up 27%


Hartford Stage has long enjoyed a sterling reputation as one of the country’s leading resident theatres. However, after 2008–09, one of the best seasons on record, revenue plunged and continued to trend downward in subsequent seasons.

A major portion of the revenue decline came from the loss of subscribers and subscriber revenue. In 2002, Hartford Stage introduced EZ Tix, a flexible voucher subscription. As EZ Tix became the focus of acquisition efforts, sales for the full 6-play subscription fell steadily. 


Posted August 28, 2013







May28

Is your organization’s pricing strategy focused only on the cost of admission? Developed in just one department?  This 90-minute workshop, presented at the Arts Reach Canada Conference in May 2013, was designed to show leadership teams how much more there is to consider and to gain. High-impact pricing generates positive perception, improved patron loyalty, and greater revenue for every admission or seat sold.  


Posted May 28, 2013







May22

"Data has changed everything", Rick Lester, CEO of TRG Arts, said in a recent interview with Southern Methodist University's National Center for Arts Research (NCAR). "Data has allowed us to replace guesswork and the customary wisdom of how arts organizations are supposed to function with knowledgewith fact, instead of opinion." 
 

TRG Arts been a consulting partner with NCAR since its launch earlier this year.  Rick also serves as a distinguished visiting professor at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.

 Watch the 2-minute video below and read NCAR's full post here.


Posted May 22, 2013







May20

$1.5 million two-year admission growth


EMP Museum EMP Museum (formerly known as Experience Music Project) mounts exhibitions related to music, pop culture and science fiction. In 2011, EMP planned two exciting new exhibits: Avatar: The Exhibition and Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses. EMP leadership saw the exhibits as a way to build a more sustainable business model, funded by the community and less reliant on gifts from a few generous donors. 

Posted May 20, 2013







May15

Chairs set up for a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Chairs set up for a performance at Walt Disney
Concert Hall. Photo by Dave Herholz via flickr.
I received an email last week from a client who presents touring Broadway shows.  The client needed a fast answer about potential prices for a mega-hit show he hopes to add to the schedule next season. 

“Can we possibly charge more than $160 for several hundred tickets to every performance?” he asked.  “Can a price that high work in our city? Can dynamic pricing get us that far?” 

Posted May 15, 2013







Apr18

Photo via flickr
Some time ago I had a conversation with a theatre manager who had expressed an interest in TRG’s ticket pricing counsel.  The more we talked, the more agitated she became.  She nervously offered that her artistic director would NEVER allow pricing strategies like this happen at her theater. I, laughing, joked, “Oh my.  Your artistic director is a socialist?”  With great seriousness, she replied, “Absolutely not!  He is a communist!  He believes that every ticket should be FREE!”

The argument surrounding free and deeply discounted tickets has been around forever. The Dallas Museum of Art kicked off another round of conversation when they recently announced their decision to provide everyday free admission to everyone.  Museum memberships will also become free, with visitors actively encouraged to join using a very slick electronic system located at entry points to the museum. 

Posted April 18, 2013







Mar22

Doubled Subscription Revenue


Music Director David Alan Miller conducts the ASO. Gary David Gold Photography.
Music Director David Alan Miller conducts the ASO.
Photo by Gary David Gold Photography.

By 2010, the Albany Symphony Orchestra (ASO) had experienced a steady decline in subscribers over seven years. During the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons, ASO had implemented an idea popular in the orchestra field of growing new subscriptions by offering them at half price. Units increased significantly. However, per-ticket revenue declined and renewal rates were poor. 


Posted March 22, 2013







Nov01

TRG’s latest work has focused on how ticket pricing and inventory management practices impact patron loyalty.  The conclusion?  Pricing – especially top-end tactics like dynamic pricing – must recognize and reflect the impact of these strategies on the loyalty of subscribers, donors, group and single seat buyers alike.  Why?  The risk of reduced contributed revenues is too great to ignore. 

In this webinar, CEO Rick Lester and President Jill Robinson offer must-know insights about the new tools, processes, and revenue results that come from placing the most loyal patrons in the best seats at the best price.

Posted November 1, 2012







Oct01

This week, the TRG team is contributing to the Arts Marketing Blog Salon on Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog. This article by Amelia was originally posted as part of the salon, which previews the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference in November.

Photo by David Wellbeloved
For decades, the arts industry has chased new audiences, especially younger audiences. Today, that chase is directed at the largest population under 30 years old in human history.  It’s little wonder that Gen Y (born 1981 – 2001) is a hot topic for arts marketers.
 
As a data-informed member of Gen Y, here’s a take on my generation of arts consumers.

We curate our lives.

For as long as we’ve been consumers, we have always had access to Google and Amazon. Search is our way of finding out anything and everything we want to know. We are the generation of the long-tail. This means we have had access to more variety of art, music, performances, and consumer products than any other generation in history.

Posted October 1, 2012







Jul24

Photo via Flickr
There’s only one way to end the current practice of resellers getting obscene prices or discounters taking all but a fraction of the income for your tickets. Stop making it so easy for them. Broadway offers a good example of what not to do.

Do only tourists and suckers pay full price?

Every Monday afternoon, The Broadway League releases the weekly sales data for every show performing on the Great White Way. Currently, about 60% of all Broadway tickets are sold below the face value of the ticket.

When the results of “never-discounted” shows (The Book of Mormon, The Lion King and Wicked) are deducted, the proportion of discounted ticket sales jumps to nearly 70%. Last week, for instance, total Broadway sales revenues (about $33 million) were about two-thirds of their aggregate gross potential. In non-peak weeks, this ratio floats closer to 50%.

Posted July 24, 2012







Jul19

Photo: Marja van Bochove
This article is cross-posted on Ticket News and Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog.
Harry Truman famously expressed a desire to consult only with “one-armed economists”. Our 33rd President wasn’t fond of counsel that began "On the one hand, this..." and was followed by "On the other hand, that..." Truman wanted straight talk without equivocation.

So, here is a bit of economic straight talk from the data vaults of TRG Arts. Forget everything you learned in that Econ 101 class you took in undergraduate school. You can also forget what you learned at Business School. It doesn’t apply to tickets.

Posted July 19, 2012







Jul18

It’s summer—the time of year when an arts manager’s thoughts turn to poolside fun, family vacations and—of course—planning for A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, yuletide concerts and other holiday blockbuster events. Not on your calendar yet? Then you are missing a major opportunity.

In partnership with TRG Arts, New York City Ballet found ways last summer to increase revenue from The Nutcracker in December 2011, and as a result it generated an additional $1.1 million. In this webinar, NYCB’s Director of Marketing Karen Girty joins TRG’s Keri Mesropov and Lindsay Homer to detail how they did it—and how you can get your organization on track for big holiday season success.

Posted July 18, 2012







Jul09

London 2012 Tickets. Photo: Paul Hudson.
The eyes of the world turn to London July 27th when 10,500 athletes in 26 sports begin to compete in the Summer Games of the XXX Olympiad. 
 
The logistics surrounding the buying and selling of tickets for live Olympic events are daunting. We are talking about eight million tickets for a full range of activities from preliminary rounds to final “medal” events to opening and closing ceremonies – all crammed into a two-week window of time.

Posted July 9, 2012







Jul03

$1.1 million revenue increase 

for The Nutcracker


New York City Ballet Nutcracker New York City Ballet (NYCB) was selling out most performances of the annual production of The Nutcracker, but lacked opportunity to grow Nutcracker sales and admissions because the Company was not able to add more performances. Director of Marketing Karen Girty had already built a solid marketing program, but she contracted TRG Arts in 2009 to help her find ways to maximize overall revenues, including Nutcracker.

Need to maximize revenue from The Nutcracker.

Sales were flat for The Nutcracker, which had traditionally been a staple blockbuster year after year. NYCB came to TRG with the question, “How do we make more from what we already have?”

Posted July 3, 2012







Jun27

Update: Thanks to everyone who signed up for the webinar. If you missed it, you can still view the recording here.  
New York City Ballet's The NutcrackerChristmas in July:
Maximizing Holiday Revenue Starts Now
           
Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Time: 2-3 p.m. EDT/11-noon PDT
Cost: Free--register here.

It’s summer—the time of year when an arts manager’s thoughts turn to poolside fun, family vacations, and—of course—planning for A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, yuletide concerts, and other holiday blockbuster events.

Not on your calendar yet? Then you are missing a major opportunity.

Holiday productions equal big money for arts organizations. But how can you get the most out of this once-a-year opportunity?

New York City Ballet (NYCB) wanted exactly that—to maximize revenue. The company had been selling out most of its performances of The Nutcracker. However, NYCB could not add more performances. Growth had to come from the schedule already in place.

Posted June 27, 2012







Apr06

Making Every Seat Count


Photo by Ian Jackson from Penny Plain
The Cultch (formerly Vancouver East Cultural Centre), is a non-profit organization in Vancouver, presenting contemporary theatre, dance and music performances. TRG Arts began its consultancy with The Cultch in December 2010.

Every seat matters.

The Cultch performance venue is under 300 seats.  Every single seat is critical to achieving revenue goals.  In order to maximize revenues, The Cultch had a constant need to fill as many seats as possible for every performance, especially early in each run when tickets are typically less in demand. Even with small numbers of seats going unsold, goals quickly become unattainable.

Posted April 6, 2012







Nov17

TRG President Jill Robinson
Thanks to everyone who attended this webinar. If you missed it, you can view the recording here.
Admission price increases at some of America’s highest profile museums trigger major media coverage and a “fear factor” in discussions about how museums should determine pricing. However, museums aren’t getting useful direction from the dialog about the pricing, says TRG President Jill Robinson in her recent blog post.

Jill leads TRG’s counsel for museums, and in this free webinar she will explain the demand-based pricing approach that has led TRG clients to sustaining revenues and lasting patron loyalty over the last two decades. Hear how pricing fits into a smart revenue strategy as well as the key success factors for optimizing admission pricing in museums and other membership-based organizations. Jill will make a brief presentation and then take your questions.

Posted November 17, 2011







Nov04

A version of this post originally appeared as my guest commentary for Ticket News, an online resource for ticket industry news and information.
a shot of Broadway by Bobby Bradley
Photo by Bobby Bradley via Flickr
When it comes to pricing ticketed events, what works? For nearly two decades, TRG Arts has answered that question for hundreds of non-profit arts and culture organizations. About four years ago, TRG also began working with a number of commercial entertainment clients, mostly Broadway productions.

Posted November 4, 2011







Oct24

Photo by Glen Scott via Flickr
Museums aren’t getting useful direction from the recent public dialog about the prices they are charging or want to charge for admission.

Admission price increases at some of America’s highest profile museums have made news in major media and online, and that coverage has touched off discussion that appears more emotional than productive. It seems like the further away from free or low-cost admission a museum gets, the more the institution is vulnerable to criticism on grounds of not making their collections accessible or affordable. It’s as if admission price is the only way to express accessibility and that accessibility is the only reason for a museum’s being.

Posted October 24, 2011







Oct03

Usually when organizations consider their ticket sales, they look mainly at total revenue. After all, revenue is what keeps an organization running, and total revenue is the 50,000-foot view of how well an organization is doing.  However, when considering how to optimize ticket sales, calculating and analyzing per-capita revenue becomes a critical measurement.

Yes, “per-capita revenue” sounds boring, complex and technical, but stick with me—the reality is that it allows you to zoom in and see how tickets are selling on a season-by-season or show-by-show basis and that’s actually pretty useful.

Let’s break it down:

In laymen’s terms, per-capita revenue is the average price paid for a ticket. You can calculate per-capita revenue for an individual performance, a series of performances or an entire season. You can also break per-capita revenue out by group tickets, single tickets or subscription/membership purchases.

Posted October 3, 2011







Sep12

TRG Arts CEO Rick Lester
Get a pricing briefing from TRG Arts CEO Rick Lester Thursday, September 15th at 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time during a free webinar previewing the October ArtsReach conference. Rick joins ArtsReach CEO John Zorn and Patron Technology’s Michelle Paul for a free advice-packed online panel presentation. Rick’s short tutorial will use a demand diagnostic analysis to show whether admission prices are too low, too high or right on the money.

Sign up for the webinar (free) here.

Rick will present a 3-hour intensive for marketing, development and ticket colleagues on pricing and dynamic demand principles, Pricing Arts: A Team Clinic, at the ArtsReach conference in San Francisco, which runs from October 28-30. More info on the conference here.

Posted September 12, 2011







Sep01

Ken Davenport’s insightful August 30th post spotlights the reason why advance ticket buying seems like a thing of the past.  Too many presenters, producers and arts organizations are providing incentives to buy late in the sales cycle.

As readers of this blog know, our patron behavior studies challenge the accepted conventional wisdom in the field that patrons are buying later and later.  Conventional wisdom is no substitute for fact. In a study of late-buying trends of 1.5 million arts patrons in Los Angeles, we found that buying later it is not an inevitable fact of consumer behavior. We summarized these findings earlier in the year on this blog.

In our consulting practice we do see late-buying trends, but more often than not, we’ve found that late-buying is a direct result of late-selling—not making the offer to the market early enough.  This is typically a strategy based on the assumption that all patrons want to buy late. An empty house a week out then spurs a slew of panicked late-minute discounting, or worse yet: comping. When this happens often enough, as Ken Davenport also pointed out, patrons are trained to wait for this “management panic” fire sale. The bottom line is that giving up on advance ticketing only perpetuates the cycle of late buying—and leads to less per-ticket revenue (as well as total revenue!) on an ongoing basis.

Posted September 1, 2011







Aug16

TRG Arts recently hosted a webinar detailing the $3 million success story of Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company. The Q & A discussion was quite robust, and from it, I caught a glimpse of the wide range of responses and questions arts managers have on pricing and patron loyalty.

One of the most interesting questions was raised on the periphery by two different attendees: Why should subscribers get discounts and more importantly, why should we give discounts on the best seats in the house? Since we didn’t have time in the webinar to address this specific question, I sat down to get Rick’s perspective. This post features the highlights from our conversation.

Subscriptions prices should drive demand and reward loyalty.

Posted August 16, 2011







Jan10

Blogger’s Note: It’s been a long time, several thousand travel miles, two conferences, a first draft of a new book, and two new grandchildren since my last blog entry. During that time, I’ve seen case and study results that I’ll share via this and future posts. Here’s to a happy, more prosperous, more communicative New Year.
Recently, a very smart entrepreneur in the commercial entertainment industry made a surprising observation. He admitted that he carefully follows the business and marketing practices of not-for-profit arts and culture organizations. Nonprofits, he said, tend to “work smarter -- they have to.” Strategies born of necessity frequently breed cutting-edge ideas that can be applied elsewhere. 

I would agree. In these tough times, the margin for error is so small and the stakes so high that survival for many nonprofit performing arts organizations depends upon the ability to do everything exactly right. 

So when client organizations began posting higher ticket sales in late 2010, we took notice. We also took a closer look to understand what was happening. What were the forces that appeared to drive sales up – or down? Were there organizational or market factors at work? If so, what lessons might we learn? 

Posted January 10, 2011







Jun29

Based on the reports of my TRG colleagues, our recent blog posting on Demand Based Pricing prompted questions and conversations at recent national service organization meetings (Theatre Communications in Chicago, League of American Orchestras and Chorus America in Atlanta, DanceUSA in Washington, DC and Professional Association of Canadian Theatres in Cow Head, Newfoundland). Discussion revolved around how arts managers should reconcile potential revenue growth from Demand Based Pricing against long term goals of enhanced Patron Loyalty. The FAQs? Are these two concepts mutually exclusive? Do techniques designed to squeeze the maximum sales revenues for tonight’s performance come at the expense of the need to develop lasting relationships with our patrons? Do higher prices negatively impact giving levels?

My simple response is that price does impact patron loyalty. Why? Because everything impacts patron loyalty. The quality of the performance, the selection of seat location, the perception of box office success, the level of service offered by venue staff, the convenience of parking, the service and quality of the pre-curtain dinner at the restaurant across town – everything impacts the quality of the patron experience and therefore patron loyalty. Some of these issues are within our control. Others not.

Posted June 29, 2010







Jun03

The national conference season is officially in full swing. Right now, I am in Washington, DC participating in the annual meeting of the Association of Arts Administration Educators while my partner, Jill Robinson, heads to San Diego for the California Arts Presenters annual Artist Information Exchange conference. By the end of this month, my colleagues and I will have participated in ten conferences so far this year.

At almost every arts industry conference, Demand Based Pricing has been a ubiquitous topic – nearly as popular as the sessions about the importance of social media. If you know TRG well, you are aware that we’ve been preaching the message of fundament change in ticket pricing for more than a decade. It’s strange to suddenly find oneself at the center of a debate about a topic that for years was too geeky for most arts industry conversations.

There are many organizations using the techniques TRG pioneered back in the early days of the last decade. TRG’s demand-based pricing strategies date back to a project with our brave friends at Pacific Northwest Ballet, whose first effort grossed a whopping $1,500 in incremental revenues. (Subsequently, PNB has annually generated six-figure income improvements from demand pricing tools.)

Posted June 3, 2010







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