How to attract, sell to and keep your audience with top tips from Paul Luck
What advice could you give to an event organiser on managing online ticket sales?
Choose a ticketing company that will work with you in partnership to achieve all of your objectives. Some key factors include:
> Brand awareness: your brand and that of the event should be the only one on display to the customer; you don’t want all your hard work and marketing spend to take them to a site where there are lots of competitive events that may tempt them away. Ideally your ticketing partner will give you a white label solution, totally branded to you, that seamlessly links from your website. The purchase process should be simple and intuitive; it’s normally the first contact the customer has of your event so you want it to be as easy as possible. Avoid any supplier that requires the customer to login as people often forget their login details and drop off rates are high.
> Data ownership: make sure that you and only you have 100% ownership of the data. The last thing you want is your ticketing provider sending your customers emails about competitive events. Also, many people instantly opt out from such communications which means they don’t get to hear about your event in future years.
> Where’s the money? Ticket monies should be paid directly to you, not to the ticketing company. If they go insolvent that money will be lost and in many cases puts the event in jeopardy. Choose a supplier that will transact using your merchant number, that way the contract is between you and the customer giving you total data protection rights over the use of the customer’s details.
How important are pre-event sales?
In a word, critical. Advance sales not only create a positive cash flow prior to the event but they provide a real time barometer on the success of various marketing campaigns. This allows for positive and strategic adjustments during the run up to the event to maximise sales. Do more of what is generating sales and less of what is not. Make sure your online ticketing supplier is able to provide you with the tools to track the source of sales in extreme detail.
Advance sales also protect against bad weather, competition for the leisure pound and build the all important contact database for next year.
Don’t just limit advance sales to tickets, they can include parking, dining packages, merchandise, show programmes and much more.
What is the secret to getting ‘on the door’ ticket sales right?
Ideally you want to minimise door sales as much as possible by driving sales online. Not only does this keep the cost of a box office to a minimum but you get the contact details of the customer for future years. It’s worth offering an online discount even during the show to achieve the online channel shift. Advertise the higher gate price prominently so that customers are aware of the online saving.
How can organisers maximise pre-event marketing to drive ticket sales?
Most events have three audiences: dedicated, repeat and transient. Target your marketing to each type separately.
The dedicated audience will come year on year without fail. You’ll almost certainly have them in your email database so let them know well in advance when the event is taking place and give them a loyalty discount such as an early bird offer, free parking or some other reward for their early commitment.
The repeat audience will come some years and not others. Remind them of the event content, why they will enjoy it and what’s new for this year. Discounts are useful tools but usually it’s content that will attract them back; make the most of any news or what’s different to catch their attention. Social media plays a critical role here; try and get the dedicated audience to share that they are coming to the event, some of these posts will reach the uncommitted repeat audience and hopefully get them to book.
The transient audience is the hardest but can make the difference financially between a good show and a great show. Use anyone associated with the event such as artists, exhibitors, local authorities or sponsors to promote the event to their databases. It’s a low cost way of reaching a wider audience that you may not have been in contact with previously.
Please mention an event where your product was used and how it helped sales
The Royal Bath and West Show is one of the oldest surviving agricultural shows. It was formed in 1852 and found its permanent home in Somerset in 1965. Red Box started working with the event in 2012 and the success of the online platform was soon realised but seemed to plateau in 2014. In 2015, Red Box introduced a new API integration with Facebook and Twitter that allows customers to seamlessly share to their timeline that they are attending the event with a link to purchase tickets.
In the first year over 17% of customers shared, reaching over 250,000 friends and family. Tickets sales increased by over 54% in 2015 and have continued to rise. Red Box has continued to add new features and functionality and this year will be providing advance sales for The Dairy Show at the Bath and West Show Ground for the first time.