online ticketing

Help your patrons discover the benefits of online ticket purchase

As our client organizations, who may not have had online ticketing in the past, now transition their organization and the patrons over to the wonderful world of online ticket capabilities, there can be a learning curve that you can help facilitate.

If your organization has not offered online ticketing in the past, or if your former system charged high fees or was confusing to use, it may take a bit of time and exposure for patrons who were not satisfied with that former system to now discover how simple your new Arts People system is to use, giving them the ability to buy online at any time, with a simple step by step process, and then print their tickets themselves, or put them on will-call to pick up at the theatre.  This learning and discovery process is one that you can assist them with in various ways.

In order to help them better understand the new capabilities you’re offering, and to encourage them to give it a try, here are some possible tips for you to consider:

  1. If you typically sell lots of tickets at the door the night of the show, make sure you have separate lines for those who are buying, and those who already printed their tickets at home, and those picking up at will-call.  Clear signs to guide them, and perhaps an usher to make sure those waiting in line know of the other lines, provides great customer service and will help buyers understand how advanced purchse online might have saved them from waiting in that long line.
  2. Buy tickets online now. Admit one. As with the above, put a large sign on an easel next to the line that says “Don’t want to wait in this line?  Next time buy easily and securely online at (website address).”
  3. Send out email blasts to your patrons as you start promoting your next production.  Remind them specifically of online ticket purchase, and consider offering a bit of a discount for online purchase only, maybe within a limited time frame, to encourage them to buy through that channel.
  4. If you’re used to charging fees for online ticket purchase, consider removing this.  With the Arts People system online purchase is more desirable and saves you staff time and gives you more sales predictions, knowing what your audience is looking like in advance.  Encourage your patrons to buy online. Some organizations actually charge a fee for phone or in-person transactions, since that’s where the staff time is involved.
  5. Make sure your voice menu system guides patrons to online buying options.  If you are offering a discount there, make sure that is clear as well.
  6. buy tickets nowEmphasize the online buying button options on your website.  Make sure that every page has a clear call to action to buy tickets online, with a button that is consistently placed and consistent in appearance.
  7. Emphasize online buying on your posters, postcards and brochures.  Use the same button graphic that appears on the website (above) so patrons can recognize it easily in all marketing materials especially during this transition period to better online purchasing capabilities.
  8. Post repeated reminders via your social media channels reminding patrons to purchase their tickets to the show, and use links to directly take them to online purchase of the show you’re promoting.  The more directly the link takes them to buying the better.  Don’t make them have to take extra steps when they don’t need to.
  9. When you talk to patrons who are not buying online, ask them what their reasons are for not doing so.  It could be they have a valid reason or choice for not doing so, or they may be unaware of the security of the system or the ease of Arts People that you may have transitioned to recently.

You’ll never get completely away from phone and in-person transactions, but the benefits of more ticketing being purchased online is clear, and you can actually communicate that to your patrons as well.  Let them know that you honor their choice to not buy online if they prefer, but that having sales done in advance saves your staff time, helps you to marketing better to help fill up less sold performances, to even plan for concessions supplies and volunteers, and more.  When they understand the reasons, they might be more willing to try it out as well.

Happy ticketing!

Patrick Spike – Marketing Director, Arts People

Added income and revenue - get creative

Generate extra income in creative ways

As a performing arts organization, we know that balancing income and expenses can be a tricky thing.  Generating income also generally must fall into methods in line with your non-profit published mission in order to avoid any scrutiny from the IRS and the public.  But there may just be ways to add a chunk of extra income to your bottom line using methods that are easily within reach.

For those considering the Arts People system for their ticketing, fundraising, marketing, database/CRM needs, the low costs of our system can often be offset by these means!

We’re creative people… let’s get to it!

Here’s some ideas:

  1. In selling your season package, have you considered that adding just an extra 25 or 50 package sales might bring in an extra $5000-10000 annually.  Get your board involved, encourage your patrons to help you promote the packages, hold an annual season announcement event with a super special discount for attendees and get it done!
  2. Add options for season packages.  If you currently sell a traditional subscription package, consider adding flex passes for more patron options and see how it increases your package sales.  You could possibly add an additional $2500-5000 through this method.
  3. The print at home ticket design of the Arts People system allows you to customize the layout.  Consider selling space on the ticket for a local business to print a coupon, or a sponsorship logo.  This can be done creatively on a show by show basis, or for the entire season for more money, or both!  Charge for that space and bring in an extra $2500-5000 or more annually.
  4. If you’re not booking sponsors of each production, you should.  Exclusive single sponsor, or a few sponsors together for each show could bring in $15000 a year.
  5. What about a sponsorship specifically for your online buying experience.  Sell an online season sponsorship and place the sponsor logo with a link to their business info on your Arts People customize-able public pages for an annual amount of $3000-4000.  “Online transactions brought to you by….”  Businesses love this type of exposure.  You could do smaller levels of this also by having individual sponsors of the different transaction types… tickets, donations, membership, retail, passes, subscriptions, class enrollment, etc. Each path in the Arts People system has system messages where sponsor info credit could be displayed. Additionally, the confirmation emails can also be customized with text and images!
  6. Make sure you’re asking ticket buyers online to add a donation.  The checkout screen has a customize-able area for a donation pitch. Use it!  Encourage ticket buyers to add a small donation to their ticket purchase and bring in an extra $1000-2000 a year.

The above methods, if all successful, total between$29000 and $41000 yearly.  Think that would help the bottom line?  Get creative with your options and see the bottom line come up!  This, along with added sales due to the easy to use online purchase process of the Arts People system, and you’ll find it can actually make you money, and be completely paid for in the process.

 

How does your area provide art to all?

The arts are sometimes criticized for catering only to the elite of our society, with admission prices and other costs far above the means of many members of the community.  How can arts organizations help to bridge this gap and provide access to those of low income, while also maintaining the income they need to budget for high quality work?

One common method is to provide specific performances that are “pay what you will.”  This can work well, allowing patrons attending those performances to pay the amount they are comfortable with.

Arts for AllBut here in the Portland, OR area, our Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) has coordinated another approach.  The “Arts for All” program enables those on low income to access performing arts at most any performance of any participating organization in the area very affordably.

Oregon Trail Card

Patrons who have an “Oregon Trail” card can show it at the box office of a participating organization and receive a ticket to the performance for only $5.  The Oregon Trail Card, or EBT card, is Oregon State’s method for providing food and other discounts to those in need. Details on the card can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/Oregon-Trail-Card.aspx.

The RACC Arts For All program is detailed at https://racc.org/artsforall/.

How does your organization or area provide for those in need when it comes to performing arts programs?  If you don’t currently have a program such as Arts For All, how might you help develop something similar?

When we introduce the arts to under-served groups within our communities, we build a love of the arts, we may allow new people to discover a formerly unknown passion, and everyone wins.

Website design must have items

White paper: The Six Things Every Performing Arts Website Must Get Right

Your website is your online storefront, your business card, your billboard, your elevator speech and your siren song all in one.  It often is the first exposure a person will have to your organization. It must represent you clearly, efficiently and express your artistic intent and passion in a way that allows the visitor to align with you, or to move on if what you do is not for them.  It is critical that patrons can find the information they need quickly and easily, and are able to buy, donate or reach out to you without any difficulty.

In this white paper we’ll go into detail of the six primary elements that your organization’s website MUST get right, as well as other options that you might want to include, but not have compete with the top six.

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.

—-

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.

 

First impressions last

White paper: Using separate systems is costing you patron loyalty, sales and donations

We all know that the key to sustainability, increased earned and contributed revenue is cultivating relationships with your patrons. This takes the building of trust and loyalty over time.  We need to walk patrons up our engagement ladder from single ticket buyer to donor to subscriber to major donor to advocate.  The ways in which the patron interacts with us online, via our office… these make up a critical component to building that trust and relationship over time.

If you’re using different systems for various types of transactions and patron interactions, this can drive a wedge between you and the patron you’re wanting to cultivate.  When they see some third party company on the screen where they are buying tickets, or on the ticket itself, or the receipt, how do they feel about your brand, your customer service, your interest in them?

In this free whitepaper we’ll discuss the strategic importance of a unified system toward ticketing,  fundraising and more.

 

Request a download link for this white paper:

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

—-

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.