In reviewing the areas that needed filling and the new prices, we established a special price point which was higher than the previous discount buyer average but offered a one-time opportunity to upgrade into mid-orchestra seating where we needed seats filled. A special mailing was sent to previous discount buyers alerting them that there would be no discount day. Instead, their past purchase entitled them to an exclusive Private Sale offer and they could purchase much earlier to get the best seats. We even added the extra incentive of waived fees if they responded by the early deadline. The results: happy patrons and more revenue for Music Theatrer Wichita. While the private sale did not reach the volume in terms of number of packages sold, it did help increase the per cap of new acquisition sales by 57%. Given the attention and better seating locations, it is also very likely that these patrons will now have a better renewal rate. Tracking on these specific patrons is not complete, but to date, these efforts along with a restructured campaign timeline have resulted in a mid-campaign renewal rate of 56% compared to 26% for the same period in the prior year. But that is just the start of the story.
Single Ticket Planning
After scaling and pricing were completed, best practices were implemented for single ticket sales. The process began with a breakdown of unit and revenue projections by production rather than an overall revenue goal as was their traditional approach. This shift illuminated additional revenue opportunities and fine-tuning of expectations as well as cost-of-sale allocations. Individual goals, as well as careful monitoring of progress with a sales tracker, gave the Music Theatre Wichita team clearer targets throughout the season.
By comparing year-over-year results, it became apparent that the first show of the season suffered from a short sales period. For the 2019 season, the opening show, The Sound of Music, also had the highest revenue expectations, so changes were implemented to maximize sales. An exclusive online presale began two months before the season. Also, as with each production, direct mail was added as a specific tactic for marketing directly to Music Theatre Wichita’s recent and lapsed patrons. Lastly, a limited number of $25 tickets were introduced for each performance to stimulate urgency and fill in empty, but highly visible seats. The Sound of Music reached goal two weeks before opening. The greatest contributor to this success was the combination of having a longer sales period and a scale plan based on demand. Further, these full houses served to validate subscribers for their package purchase and create urgency for single buyers for the remainder of the season.
The single ticket scale plan along with careful inventory control not only filled the houses but also raised per cap prices 10% higher than original projections.
The Sound of Music – Saturday Matinee (all sold with exception of top 3 rows of the balcony):
In preparation for renewal time, Music Theatre Wichita embraced counsel and took the extra steps to assure careful handling of their subscribers. An advance notice went out to all subscribers describing how the changes would impact their subscription and renewal forms were updated to make the ordering process easier. Those not directly impacted by the changes were also alerted regarding the new timelines and encouraged to renew early due to anticipated demand on seating. All letters also included a dedicated patron services number for renewal assistance. Music Theatre Wichita staff were trained so messaging would be consistent across the organization.
The new schedule and earlier renewal deadlines jumpstarted the campaign and allowed the time needed not only for excellent customer care with seating changes, but also for additional acquisition efforts. To date, in week 16 of their campaign, Music Theatre Wichita is pacing 33% ahead in revenue and 38% in number of packages. Strategic pricing and inventory control has boosted the average package price by 18%.
Subscription results up to November 2019:
About Music Theatre Wichita
Music Theatre Wichita, founded in 1972 and currently the largest subscribed not-for-profit arts organization in the state of Kansas, has attained an international reputation for excellence. Each summer at Century II Performing Arts Center in downtown Wichita, MTWichita self-produces five Broadway-scale musical productions, using a unique mixture of top-flight professionals from Broadway and Hollywood working hand-in-hand with talented Midwesterners. Each year eight administrative year-round staff, approximately 55 seasonal performers, 65 seasonal technical staff, and 30 seasonal orchestra members work together to design and create five Broadway-quality musicals during the months of June through August.
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