dynamic pricing
dynamic pricing
Jul20

Long Wharf Theatre: 80% increase in new subscriptions in one year

In August 2015, Long Wharf Theatre (LWT) was worried about their subscriptions. Over the last four seasons, they’d seen a 23% decrease in subscription renewals and 8% decrease in new subscriptions. 


Posted July 20, 2017







Jun02

Maybe you’re on auto-pilot with your dynamic pricing strategy. Maybe you’re considering dynamic pricing, but aren’t sure where to start. 

In this hour-long, free webinar, we’ll be revealing our 3-pronged strategy for pricing and demand management. Managing revenue and demand is an ongoing discipline, not a “set-and-forget” tactic.


Posted June 2, 2017







Oct17

Annual operating budget up 32% in 5 seasons



Photo: Joseph Mills

After a poor year for earned revenue in 2012*, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (LTO) had rebounded and was experiencing a growth spurt. In 2013, Director of Marketing Danyel Siler had turned her attention to single tickets. Her hard work had paid off, but season tickets were still a challenge.

“Season tickets were steadily declining,” she said. “The season ticket campaign had been done the same way for years, maybe even decades. And we blamed the fall on the trend that subs were declining everywhere. Our executive director, artistic director, and I all knew something needed to change, but we didn’t know what.”

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma hired TRG in March of 2014 for a best practices consultancy which began with an analysis of income trends, data stewardship, and current marketing practices.


Posted October 17, 2016







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







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







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







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







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







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







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







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







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







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







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







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







Nov09

Photo via flickr
Unsupported Dynamic Pricinga condition that exists when the results of dynamic pricing mask the broader weaknesses of an organization’s prevailing and inadequate pricing strategy.
Dynamic pricing is so simple anyone can do it, right?  When sales hit a pre-determined target point, prices for the remaining ticket inventory move up by five or ten bucks. 

Best of all, its success can be proven.  From sales reports, it’s easy to calculate a “price variance” that represents the extra money dynamic pricing generated.  And typically, there are no complaints from the ticket buying public to diminish the upside of incremental revenue. 

Posted November 9, 2012







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







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







Oct21

59% one-year ticket revenue increase


Phoenix Theatre revenue chartPhoenix Theatre’s ticket revenue and admissions had remained essentially flat for the three years following a big drop-off in 2005. Revenue gains in full subscription and single ticket sales were offset by decreases in group sales and flex subscriptions. The Theatre needed more substantial growth in all areas to increase revenue, which required greater patron investment.

 In October 2007, TRG consultants began their work with the Company, examining a variety of issues. Key findings centered on patron retention and its effect on revenue.

Posted October 21, 2011







Oct20

Subscriptions are Alive and Well!


Mead Center at night.
Photo by Scott Suchman.
Arena Stage is one of America’s leading regional theatres, performing on three stages in the newly renovated Mead Center for American Theater. Before moving back into the Mead Center, Arena Stage had seen declining sales from 2001-2007. In 2008 they sought out TRG to help strategize their move back into DC and address key sales challenges.

Are subscriptions viable?

Subscriptions sales were in a downward slide from 2003-2007, along with the subscriber renewal rate. Arena’s staff actively questioned the validity of the subscription model going forward and was increasingly looking to single tickets as the key source of future earned revenue. 

Posted October 20, 2011







Oct18

$3 million two-year revenue growth


Arts Club Theatre CompanyFor years Arts Club Theatre Company (ACTC) had seen healthy revenue growth. By 2007 subscription numbers had leveled off and the company’s efforts were falling short of revenue goals. Some of the issues included:
  • Pricing.  ACTC had priced all seats the same, varying prices only by the day of the week.   Patrons were not buying the lowest-priced tickets, prompting a high proportion of tickets—one in every three—to be offered at a discount.  Some patrons got double discounts (i.e. corporate seniors got a corporate discount on top of the senior discount).
  • Inventory management. In addition to offering deep discounts on tickets, ACTC filled seats by offering large numbers of complimentary tickets—22,000 in the 07-08 season alone...
  • Timing of marketing campaigns. ACTC had a complaint that is standard among arts organizations—their patrons were buying later and later. To accommodate them, ACTC was also marketing and selling shows later and later.
  • Subscription offerings. ACTC offered a wide variety of subscriptions—several fixed seat subscriptions, and many flexible subscription packages. Many more patrons opted for the lowest-price flex package rather than the full series; flex series renewed at low rates.

Posted October 18, 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







Aug03

Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre CompanyDynamic pricing, the tactic of raising prices after tickets go on sale, has often been in industry headlines these days. However, when it comes to growing revenue and increasing patron loyalty, it’s not the whole story. While it’s true that Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre Company (ACTC) generated six-figure revenue from dynamic pricing, the real news is how ACTC increased the number of its most loyal subscribers. In this webinar, presented in August 2011, TRG consultants and ACTC staff retell ACTC’s $3 million client success story, including how:
  • Loyalty strategies -- not pricing tactics -- led to sustaining revenue.
  • Unified, company-wide change in focus brought about increased revenue and subscribers.
  • Dynamic pricing made subscribing more valuable.

Posted August 3, 2011







Jul25

Update: Thanks to everyone who signed up for the webinar. If you missed it, you can still view the recording here.
Regular readers of this blog know that we've talked about dynamic pricing quite a bit in past weeks, including the case study of Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre Company (ACTC), who found success with dynamic pricing as part of an integrated patron loyalty strategy. Our latest webinar, led by TRG consultants and ACTC staff, goes in-depth on this case study.

Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre CompanyTitle: Dynamic Pricing is NOT the Story
Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Time: 11 a.m. to 12 Noon, Mountain Daylight Time
(See below for your time zone)

Dynamic pricing, the tactic of raising prices after tickets go on sale, has often been in industry headlines these days. However, when it comes to growing revenue and increasing patron loyalty, it’s not the whole story. While it’s true that Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre Company (ACTC) generated six-figure revenue from dynamic pricing, the real news is how ACTC increased the number of its most loyal subscribers. Read more about ACTC's success on TRG's blog, and register for the webinar to hear TRG consultants and ACTC staff retell ACTC’s $3 million client success story.

Posted July 25, 2011







Jul14

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times about dynamic pricing.  The resulting article highlights the success that L.A. organizations have had using the tactic to increase revenue, while maintaining the accessibility that is a part of most non-profits’ mission. You can read the article here.  That post, Thomas Cott’s briefing the same day, and the subsequent flurry of online discourse tells me that we, as an industry, are looking at dynamic pricing as something greater than it is.

The tactic – repeat, tactic – of dynamic pricing is but one means to an end – greater ticket revenue. It is not an end itself – sustainable patronage and revenue.  Since 2002, when my colleagues and I first worked with clients to implement the practice of raising ticket prices after sales were underway, dynamic pricing has been part of an integrated revenue management strategy. That strategy began with consideration of subscribers and the demand for seats subscribers create.

Posted July 14, 2011







Jun07

I have a passion for sharing stories of success. This seems especially important when so many of our ‘water cooler’ conversations are dominated by accounts of doom, gloom and bankruptcy. Success stories offer important reminders that arts and cultural organizations are not limited to merely surviving. Even during tough times – perhaps especially during tough times – we can thrive!

At the recent Canadian Professional Association of Theatres (PACT) conference, TRG had the pleasure of sharing a truly remarkable client success story, that of Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company (ACTC ). About three years ago, ACTC became curious about our work in dynamic pricing, the tactic of raising prices based on customer demand after tickets go on sale. Could ACTC exceed their $4.5 million annual revenue history with this practice?

Posted June 7, 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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