Ask The Expert: Event Ticket Pricing

Ask The Expert is a series from Laura Murray Public Relations that calls upon the expertise of arts and marketing specialists to provide insight and wisdom – to all industry professionals that read our blog – on how we can do what we do better. No matter what stage of our career, we are always keen to grow and hone our craft from those in the know.

For this edition of Ask The Expert, we spoke with marketing leaders at Bard on the Beach and The Dance Centre to share their insight and wisdom, honed from years of experience, on determining ticket prices. We posed the question: What are three factors to take into consideration when setting ticket prices for an arts event or performance?

Heather KennedyHeather Kennedy
Director of Marketing & Communications, Bard on the Beach

1. Do the math. Be sure your pricing plan will deliver sufficient revenue to maintain your financial stability. Don’t be tempted to discount to the point where you end up in deficit.

2. Know your audience. Talk to & survey your patrons to find out whether they believe they’re receiving good value. If satisfaction is high, you have more headroom to increase ticket prices.

3. Cover the bases. Can you offer a range of prices that includes a low-end option for price-sensitives and samplers AND a higher price point for those who can afford to enjoy the ‘best seats’? And don’t be shy about setting your upper-end price at or above marketplace levels, if the value is there and you can articulate it to your target audiences.

Heather BrayHeather Bray
Marketing Manager, The Dance Centre

As arts organizations we have artistic and social objectives as well as financial goals which all have to be balanced together when setting ticket prices. Most research indicates that price is a relatively unimportant factor in the average patron’s decision-making process, however it becomes more important as the perception of risk rises, and for some communities price is of course a major issue. Contemporary dance tends to carry a higher perception of risk for many audiences, so we try to price these shows at a level which is competitive but will also enable us to maximize box office revenues.

Discounting for groups such as students or seniors is the classic way of reaching those more price-sensitive audiences and can also be used to encourage certain behaviour, such as passes or subscriptions to encourage frequency and build loyalty, or early bird discounts to persuade more people to book in advance. If you’re going to offer a discount, make it meaningful and supportive of the overall objective of engaging that particular audience.

Once you have an outline pricing strategy, do some box office projections – look at the history of previous shows if possible, how much revenue was earned and what the discount takeup was – and adjust as necessary. Box office targets built on reasonable foundations mean you are much less likely to end up with a big hole in your budget.


Categories: MPMG