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.


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