Are you penalizing your patrons for making your life easier?

As we work with various clients, coming to us from various other systems, we see numerous former cases of patrons being charged high fees when they buy their tickets online.

Many ticketing systems don’t give you, the customer, the ability to set what fees you want to charge to your patrons.  They often try to make this sound like you get to their system for “free,” since the patron is paying their high fees.  But also it usually means that your organization has no option of how you want to apply fees to patron ticket orders. Thankfully, the Arts People system allows you to set fees in a number of ways; per ticket, per order, box office vs online vs door sales, per subscription package, with a maximum per order, etc.

We also see cases where clients have set up to charge higher fees for online buyers vs box office buyers.  While the industry has taught us that this makes sense, due to the fact that so many systems started out as online only, so the fees your organization had been paying to use the system also linked to online orders.  But now this model is contrary to the goal of online ticket sales, which is to provide convenience to your patrons and to alleviate workload from your staff in your box office.  By shopping online, printing their tickets at home, the patron is making things easier for your organization, so why not give them an incentive to do so?  Orders processed on the phone or in person are where you’re spending the time and money to serve them personally, so it makes more sense that they should pay a small fee to help cover those staff and office expenses.

Box Office

All the above, of course, is provided for your consideration based on your circumstances and only if you wish to offset your costs by charging fees to your patrons.  Many organizations charge no fees on top of ticket purchases.  They embed costs in their ticket prices, or they simple absorb the costs knowing that it’s simply a budget item as part of a performing arts organization’s expenses.  Just as we have seen online shopping go more and more to free shipping, the performing arts industry has also been moving more and more to not adding fees on top of ticket purchases in order to attract more customers, to keep them happy, and to keep them coming back.  Just one of the benefits of the Arts People system is that it gives you the control and options you need, and we’re here to help you set things up as you wish.

Fees are a strategic element in the overall structure of your income budgeting and in the image you are projecting to the public.  These are important choices for you to consider, and therefore it’s important that you have a system that supports you in making them.  CONTACT US if you have any questions.

 

DID YOU KNOW? Automated emails should be branded and recognizable

When you send a brochure, letter, postcard, you’re certain to pay attention to the look of that item, ensuring that it is branded and recognizable at a glance as coming from your organization, representing your style and professionalism.

Email communications should be the same… even if sent from your automated systems.

The Arts People system sends out notices and reminders to patrons automatically, when they make a purchase or donation, schedule a reservation, when their membership is coming due for renewal, reminding them of their upcoming performance, and more.  These emails are important for good customer service and communication with your patrons. They instill confidence and build loyalty among your customers and ultimately can help you to build on relationships to step those patrons up the ladder from ticket buyer to subscriber to donor and more.

Of course, these emails only have these benefits if they look professional and solidify your brand in the recipient’s mind.

In Arts People, all of these emails are customizable, allowing you to tailor the language to your typical tone of voice, using terminology that your patrons are accustomed to, with your logo and styling to reflect your brand.  Easy to configure, or with assistance from our friendly Client Services staff, you can make great impressions with your patrons through all your communication, even automated confirmations and reminders.

To learn more about the Arts People system and how it can help your organization in many ways, CONTACT US, or visit our website for more details.

White Paper – Create a powerful and efficient Volunteer workforce

Non-profit organizations, certainly including performing arts groups, rely heavily on a well organized and satisfied volunteer workforce. In many cases, running that portion of your operation should be given as much importance and attention as management of the staff, since often they do just as much work overall. The success of your volunteer coordination starts at the top and works its way down.

In this white paper we’ll walk you through a recognized structure to your volunteer workforce that will help ensure that your volunteers are honored, happy, and managed in a way that benefits both them and your organization.

Request a download link for this white paper:

Note that you will have 10 minutes to download your requested document from the email received.

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White paper written by

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.

 

Losing customers

Beware software systems claiming they are FREE

There are many ticketing and related software systems out there marketing themselves as FREE.  The truth is they are not, and the reality is that their pricing model may drive your customers away.It's NOT free, onthestage.com, On The Stage, tickettailor.com, Ticket Tailor

We all know that nothing is free.  We are also smart enough to know that a claim of being free is merely a tactic to try to entice you in.  This is a hook that unfortunately too often successfully manages to ensnare some people who don’t consider the ramifications of a pricing model where the service is free… to THEMSELVES only.

When a ticketing system claims to be free, it simply means that their fees are not charged to you, as the client organization.  Instead, fees are added on top of the ticket costs to your patrons during their purchase, and all too often these fees are exorbitantly high, provide no options to you for amount charged to the patron, or are some sliding amount that makes it impossible to publish a fixed price.  Try explaining why a $20 published ticket price is actually $21.47 to a patron.  In these cases you typically are without options, and these  fees jeopardize the relationships and loyalty of your patrons that you work so hard to build, all before they ever set foot in your door.

Another ramification of this model is that a) patron disapproval of the added fee costs may drive them and you to try to sell more tickets via your box office where you may not charge fees. This leads to b) having data in multiple places that complicates your marketing communications, patron analysis and more, and c) means you lose the powerful benefit of having more patrons buy online, self serve, taking a load off your staff and providing better customer service. Also, what kind of support is offered by company that is claiming to be free to use?  When you need assistance quickly, help or advice from experts, where will you turn?  Over time, these issues become more and more detrimental and unsustainable.

We love our customersArts People instead not only offers you a variety of fee options to best suit your business model, but also gives you  complete control over how much of the fees you might want to pass to your patrons, how much you pay yourself as a planned business expense, or how much you embed into your ticket prices.  For example, if the fee is $.95, you could simply increase your ticket price by $1 and not show any added fees on your patron’s purchase. Or perhaps you add $.50 per ticket, and the rest you simply absorb.  You can even put a cap on fees to the patron, such as $.50 for the first 4 tickets, after that no additional fees to them.  With our unique pricing controls there are infinite options for you to tailor the pricing application to ensure that your patrons take top priority.  Unhappy patrons, before they ever attend your performance, is NOT a good business model… and we know how patrons really don’t like added fees.

It is important to note that many of our clients report increased ticket sales and donations after they come on board with Arts People. The added revenue may completely cover your costs of using the system. This, along with some simple additional offerings such as selling ad space on your print at home tickets, or sponsorship of your online shopping cart, etc.. and you can more than pay for the system that actually helps you to build your audience and develop lasting relationships with your patrons and donors.

More and more we see clients electing to not charge fees to their patrons at all. Anything that jeopardizes those relationships is not a good idea.  Try looking at other performing arts groups in your area.  Are they adding fees on top?  If so, do you want to do the same? Charge less in fees?  Or would you rather be able to communicate proudly to your patrons that you don’t add any fees?  With Arts People, you get to make all those decisions, and we’re here ready to assist you at any time.

Flex pass tickets

White paper: Make your life simpler using the power and flexibility of passes

Arts People led the industry in the development of powerful, multi-functional and flexible pass capabilities.  Our clients use them with great success for season package sales of different types, for comp ticket fulfillment, for sponsor ticket benefits, board cultivation of donors and much more.

Learn how passes can be used in a variety of ways to benefit your patrons experience with your organization, and also to alleviate staff handling and headaches of various ticket packages and fulfillment.

Patrons and staff both love the way pass holders can easily redeem their tickets, self-serve online or via your box office, and at the same time result in less seat inventory going wasted.  They are a powerful tool for every performing arts organization to meet their needs.

 

Request a download link for this white paper:

Note that you will have 10 minutes to download your requested document from the email received.

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White paper written by 

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.

 

Good data?

The vital importance of maintaining clean data

Your database of persons and organizations who have purchased tickets, made donations, provided grants, sponsored events, signed up for your email or postal mailing lists, or just expressed interest is vitally important to the success of your goals.  Maintaining this data in a clean form, without duplication, is extremely important as well, in order to maintain good relations with your patrons and to move them up the De-duping your dataladder of engagement.

Fully integrated patron management systems with all the pieces of ticketing, fundraising, marketing built in, such as the Arts People system, should provide tools for you to maintain your clean live data.  But, the tools vary widely as to their user-friendliness, ease of use, automation and overall effectiveness.

The trouble with many systems

Many systems offer duplication cleanup tools that are extremely cumbersome.  I was recently assisting a friend at a community non-profit organization with record cleanup of their Sales Force database and I was quite frankly shocked at how time consuming and cumbersome the process was. I had to conduct various searches to find the potential duplicates to begin with, not really knowing if I was actually finding all the records.  Then I had to painstakingly look into each match one by one and specify how I wanted the pair to merge.  It took at least several minutes per pair to conduct the process.  It was days of work to clean up as many records as I had time for, without completing the task by a long shot. I truly don’t know how most organizations using a system like this can hope to keep their data clean at all, and unfortunately duplicate data leads directly to patron dissatisfaction when they receive duplicate mailings, have miscommunication from the staff about their contributions or worse.

The above scenario is just one example of how over-complication is something that most arts organizations simple have to avoid.  We understand our clients at Arts People.  As with so many non-profits, staff numbers are small and people are doing various jobs throughout their day. They just don’t have the time for a laborious process of trying to keep their data clean.

Arts People provides a better solution

As I’ve worked in the industry for nearly 30 years, I can  honestly say that I’ve never seen a duplication detection and merge process system that works as efficiently and easily as the Merge screen in Arts People. Duplicates are identified within minutes of data being entered or updated. Exactly duplicates are merged automatically!  Partial matches are presented to the user side by side where they can make a decision as to merge them keeping the record details on right or left, or connecting them together as members of the same household.  If there’s a question, users can click on the address or phone to trigger a whitepages.com search to help them identify current information for those records.  They can also click directly into one of the patron records to check the entered date, update date and more to help them now which record is newer and more likely to be the correct data.  Also, the system itself helps prevent duplication via the email address login process, enabling patrons online to link to their existing data. Clients are trained by their assigned client services representative to spend a few minutes each day or week to review and process any duplicates, keeping their data absolutely clean.

Don’t let your data cost you sales, donations or patron relationships. Make sure you’re using a system that is capable and easy enough to use that you can easily maintain your data, clean of duplication, and show your patrons that you care enough about them to communicate with them correctly and efficiently.

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Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.

 

Sustaining members our heros

Recurring donations for sustainability and building patron loyalty

Contributed income generally runs somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50% of the operating budget of a performing arts organization, with the remainder being made up of earned income.  This contributed income comes in the form of donations, grants, sponsorships and other similar gifts.  As we all know, the ask is often the hardest part. In standard donation programs you must ask patrons to donate over and over again, each year, or two or three times a year. This can be come laborious, tedious and you run the risk of alienating your donors from all the requests for donation.

recurring donation

Recurring donations have become a very nice alternative to the regular task of asking for one donation after another. By converting donors to an automatically recurring donation program, the donor gets to spread their gift out over the year with small transactions every month or quarter, or even automating their yearly gift.  The Arts People system, as one example, offers these three recurrence frequency options for your donors.  While it can be a significant thing to ask a donor to contribute $120 all at once, asking for $10 per month can be both more comfortable for the person asking, and also for donors to accept.

Recurring donations can be open ended, where they continue to recur time after time until the patron communicates with you to stop.  Or they can specify an ending date upon which they want the recurrence to stop.  In Arts People these choices are simple to setup by the donor themselves online, or in your office as you begin their recurring donation, or at any time to schedule or immediately stop the recurrence.

Recurring donations also play well into Membership structure in the Arts People system.  When a donor begins their recurring gift, if that gift applies toward membership the system will automatically calculate how much they will donate by the expire date and then set their membership to the appropriate level.  So if your membership is based annually, with a yearly expire date for all members, their $10 monthly recurrence might run for 7 months.  This 7 month calculation will the apply $70 toward membership levels. They might earn a silver level.  However if your membership is rolling where each member has their own expire date based on the anniversary of their membership start, they will have $120 apply toward levels, giving them a gold level membership.

Many organizations with recurring contribution option will promote it with enhanced benefits both to the donor and to the charity, referring to it as a “sustaining membership” or some specific label to imply to the donors that this helps their organization more than one time donations. With it perhaps the donor receives some extra perks, such as a pair of free tickets along with the standard member ticket discount.  Working to drive donors toward this option can be very beneficial as donors contribute more over time with their recurring gift, and you need less asks to the donors through their giving history, only needing to thank them periodically and sending an end of year summary for their tax purposes. The Arts People system automatically notifies the donor of each recurrence being processed and the system makes it easy for you to acknowledge and thank the donors and provide them a tax receipt.

If you want to learn more about how the Arts People system can help increase your fundraising success through recurring contributions and other means, contact us for a consultation and free demonstration.

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Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.  

Shotgun marketing often misses the target audience

Marketing segmentation – Increase sales with patron grouped communications

Shotgun marketing often misses the target audienceIt’s proven that marketing communications need to be simple, clean, direct with a clear call to action. The days of sending out long email marketing messages that contain all the upcoming events at your performing arts organization are just not effective. Overwhelming your viewer leads to inaction. They simply stop reading and delete the email.

Instead, the better approach is to segment your marketing messages by creating carefully worded and targeted messaging to selected patron groups who have expressed interest in the type of specific event that is coming up.  Communicate about the show content, message, artists, special promotions, and other details that relate to former events they’ve marketing segmentation graphicattended, or how the style is something they might enjoy.  If you can include specifics around why this group of patrons will enjoy this event, all the better. It can create a personal touch to the communication that patrons will appreciate, and lead them trust you more.

Communicate about one event at a time.  Choose selected patron segments that will receive the message favorably and target the language to each segment group.  How will THIS group of patrons connect to this material?  Versus how will this OTHER group of patrons connect to this material? Or maybe some patrons don’t receive communications about this event at all, based on their past history. Over time, test your segmentation and communication choices to see what is the most effective so you can hone your future messages.

Arts People marketing public opt-in list feature

Within the Arts People marketing system, utilizing database / CRM data, you can create as many lists as you wish, with different segments based on expressed interest, past purchases, donations, membership and much more. Using the Public Opt-In feature, you can establish lists for patrons to opt into themselves online, such as based on their areas of interest.  Then you can also create lists based on buyers of each specific event, or types of event, such as comedy, Shakespeare, musical, classical, jazz, traditional, modern, etc.  When preparing to send out communications of various types you can use these lists to segment your message and repeat messaging over time.  

Yes, this type of segmentation takes planning and time to set up, but your patrons will pay more attention to the messages you send out, will feel more confident that this is something they will enjoy, and trust you moving forward to communicate with them personally and efficiently.  

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Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the  Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration.  His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.  

 

Overworked box officer - Arts People system to the rescue

Arts People’s built in automation lets you focus on your patrons and your art

Overworked box officer - Arts People system to the rescueThere’s never enough time to do everything you would like to do, or need to do, when you’re running the daily operations of a performing arts organization. Manpower is often slim. Pressure is high. Timelines are absolute. If only there was a way to use your time more effectively by setting things up in advance and then letting automation implement your strategy along the way.

Arts People, an industry leader since 2003 in integrated systems for the performing arts, has created a collection of automation tools that arts organizations rely on every day.  The software includes ticketing, fundraising, marketing, database CRM and reporting all in one easy to use system. It is designed to help the staff and board members of performing arts organizations to accomplish their goals through simple yet powerful tools that can be configured in advance to handle the details while enabling staff to focus on other things.  

Flexible scheduling of on-sales

When building a season or individual shows into the system in advance, dates can be set to enable your entire season to go on sale at once, or you can stagger on-sales for individual shows.  Also, the system can be configured to allow advance purchase to subscribers, or to special groups by sending them a non-public link to access purchase before the public sale date.  

Create urgency with time sensitive offers

The pricing system in Arts People is powerful, flexible, and one of a kind. Pricing rules can be configured with specific trigger on/off dates, or set based on hours prior to a performance. So you can automatically enable and disable dynamic pricing, discount offers, coupon codes, membership pricing and more.  At any time, pricing can be increased or decreased with ease, by single performance, by day of the week, by show or for a group of performances or shows.  Flexibility is an understatement with the Arts People pricing engine, and the client services staff is ready to help at any time.  

Simple reserved order confirmations

Unlike many ticketing systems, Arts People has reservation tools to create orders pending later payment. Automatic email confirmation is sent to the buyer so they can pay later online, or cancel the order if they wish. You can also easily send reminder emails with just a couple clicks, or cancel reservations with the same ease.  It’s a great way to offer flexibility and great customer service to your patrons, handle larger group orders, or accept payment for subscription packages at a later date.  

Ticket add-on up-selling

Arts People was the first to offer ticket add-on capabilities. Designed originally for dinner theatres with a need to have patrons select their meal choices during ticket purchase, this tool has been expanded and used creatively by clients to sell retail items, parking passes, flower bouquets for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s day and much more. Having the ability to up-sell during a ticket purchase can mean more revenue with ease.  Since patrons can do this all self-serve via the online interface, or with a box officer on the phone, it also means less time needed handling these details later, and less potential unsold items and waste.  Just print a report before the performance and have everything ready to go.  

Automatic ticket reminders with partner offers

Communication is key to strong relationships and confidence with your theatre audience applauding - successful customer service via ticketing system automationpatrons. The Arts People system comes with tools to automatically send ticket reminders to buyers ahead of their performance date.  This email, like most of our system, is easily customizable.  Use it to expand on the reminder to inform patrons about nearby restaurants that might partner with you on a discount offer. Patrons will appreciate guidance to parking options as well.  Also, add details about your upcoming events so they can consider buying more tickets.  

Follow up emails after the performance are simple to generate as well.  It’s a great opportunity to extend a share pricing discount offer, ask patrons to complete a short questionnaire, or to look forward to the next event.

Print at home tickets with cross promotions

Following the patron’s smooth online ticketing experience, they can specify their ticket delivery option including print at home custom tickets.  Arts People’s ticket designs are the most highly configurable in the industry, with space for sponsor logos, a venue map, upcoming events list, coupons and more.  Even post performance discussions and other details can be featured.  Building on the excitement about their upcoming show can be the ideal time to communicate with your buyers about additional events or details.  Sponsors love the exposure, and recognize the benefits of partnering with you. The details of these tickets change dynamically based on the venue, show purchased and more.  

The easy to use system and built in automation, along with the friendly arts-based support staff, have made Arts People the preferred option for performing arts organizations across the USA and Canada.  Our team helps clients at every turn to use the software to their full advantage.   Since they have worked in the arts and know the needs of the organizations using the platform, clients speak of our customer service as the best they have ever experienced, anywhere.  With integration and high flexibility within the software, the team often consults with clients on new ways to accomplish their goals, and helps them every step of the way to make their operations run smoothly and efficiently.

 


Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the  Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration.  His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com
Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.