In Part 1 of Three Steps to Selling Out Entertainment Events we discussed the goal of any event ticketing program: Your Goal: Sell Out the Venue with the Highest Ticket Prices That Will Achieve That End. The best approach to selling out your ticketed event involves the following:
- Setting the initial ticketing prices based on real research of the artist’s box office history and what similar successful events in your market area have charged for tickets.
- Using multiple ticketing strategies that include variable pricing and different ticketing tiers with options to enhance the event’s fan experience, such as VIP tickets with bundled benefits.
- Having a marketing plan that is based on research of the target market and how based to reach them with a value proposition that will cause them to act and gives them a reason to buy.
In Part One I discussed the approach to setting the initial ticketing prices. Part Two will address ticketing and marketing strategies as they go hand in hand. Part Two will address ticketing strategy and the entertainment event box office and website.
Before we talk about specific ticketing approaches, let’s first address entertainment event websites, and box office issues. The first issues to address for all your events are having a quality event website and online box office. Without addressing this first, you are only going to sell tickets to the most highly motivated fans of the entertainer at the event. Unless you have Taylor Swift performing at your venue, you will need to attract more than the entertainer’s die-hard fans to your event to be financially successful.
Mobile Optimized: I shouldn’t need to say this at this stage: Make sure both are mobile-optimized. I recommend using a mobile-first design approach if you can. It means that your website developer should start the design from the mobile end which has more restrictions. You can then expand its features and make them more compatible with tablets and desktops that may have a different set of dimensions. In any case, Responsive Web Design should be the basis of your approach to any website.
If you use a ticketing platform like the one TSE provides to its clients, then the box office will already be optimized for mobile browsing and ticket sales. That leaves your event or venue website where you list events. Is it optimized for mobile browsing? If not, you need to redesign it.
Sell Ticket Where People Land:
When creating content on your website about the event, always include a prominent link to the box office for the specific entertainment event involved. Better yet, sell tickets directly from your website using code you can embed on your website. TSE’s ticketing service can provide a widget that makes selling tickets directly from your website easy.
Some apps partner with social media sites to allow buyers to purchase tickets directly from the event page on social media as well, e.g., Facebook native ticketing.
The key takeaway is to provide options for people to easily purchase your tickets as they visit sites on the Internet.
Getting Your Entertainment Event Box Office and Website More Traction
Event Website Domain: If your event is large enough to have its own website, then try to match the domain name and the event name as closely as possible. That requires keeping the event name simple and as short as possible.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), i.e., keywords: The content that becomes a part of your website should align with what potential ticket buyers might be searching for as they look for entertainment events. Use words (keywords) that make finding your website easier for them as they browse. Use geographic, genre, event type, etc. adjectives associated with your event. Search engines like sites that do regular content additions. They value original and quality content so keep it flowing about your event.
List on Event Sites:
There are a number of websites that list events. Adding your event to sites like Bandsintown, and others allow your event to be seen by potential attendees as they discover your event on these sites. You can even add a public event to Google by making your Google calendar public. You do that by checking the box next to “Make available to public” under “Access permissions for events.”
Website/Box Office Content for Entertainment Events
Remember marketing research tells us that the first 8 seconds is the time frame you have to convince a site visitor to stay on your page. That means your first task is to get them to stay on the page so you can convince them to take an action, specifically to buy tickets.
- Description: One of my golden rules is to see what successful competitors or non-competitors with similar events do for their events. In this case, how do they describe their events? You can learn a lot from what other successful venues are doing.
Know your audience and speak to them with your event description. Focus on the value and the USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Prioritize the information you provide focusing on what would make those viewing want to purchase tickets.
Remember no one wants to wade through big blocks of text. Use headlines and bullets to make your points in an easily digestible format. Highlight the entertainers or entertainment prominently if this is the value they need to see immediately.
- Feature Video Content and Images. A video teaser is a marketing strategy to increase ticket sales. One tactic we recommend for Entertainment events is to have the headliner do a 30 or 60-second video inviting people out to the event. Done right, it concisely communicates the details of the event while establishing a personal connection to the featured artist and your event.
Another option is for the people organizing the event to make a video with the must-know details and show the venue and people behind your event. Such personalization increases the engagement with buyers and organizers. You can also use highlights from previous events, use video testimonials or event provide a more detailed explanation of the fan experiences you will offer.
Don’t forget to use creative and quality images for your event. The box office header should be creative and engaging. Loading other creative images to your entertainment events box offices or website will also increase engagement and lead to more ticket sales.
- Include Testimonials: Potential buyers are prone to accept testimonials and reviews of real people. Including some either from people attending your venue and events or from those who have attended a performance of your headliner is a good marketing tactic to sell more tickets.
- Add Trust Elements: Remember your box office and website will build your brand. Add elements to your box office and website that makes the potential buyer more at ease with taking action. People need to feel comfortable that their information can’t be hacked or compromised. Include such things as:
- Rating on Google, Trustpilot, and other sites
- Secure website symbols such as badges from leaders like Verisign, Turste, and McAfee Secure.
- Better Business Bureau rating if you have one.
- Sponsor logos
Ticketing Strategies for Entertainment Events
Now that you have a good box office and website and have determined a well-thought-out price for your tickets, it’s time to talk about ticketing strategies.
You should address the desire for varied fan experiences and pricing needs by implementing a number of different ticketing options. These tiered pricing options let people select the experience they want at the price they can afford. Options might include General Admission with no perks for those who want the most affordable option to high-end VIP tickets with a lot of bundled benefits such as near-stage seating, valet parking, expedited entry, included drink or food, included merchandise or anything else you can provide that will enhance the experience for those who can afford such luxury tickets.
Venues that use only one general admission ticketing tier are leaving money on the table for their entertainment events. TSE has several ticketing clients that still use only one ticketing tier. TSE tries to help clients achieve the best financial return on their events. In the end, it’s the venue or festival operator who makes that decision.
Variable Pricing Ticketing Strategy
Ticketing Sales Life Cycle for Events: As you can see from the graph below, you will typically see a spike in ticket sales when they first go on sale, followed by another spike in ticket sales near the event itself. In between there is a sales slump. One lesson from this typical ticketing sales cycle is that the box office must be up and running when the event is announced. The event announcement will create an interest in it, and you don’t want to lose that part of the sales cycle because your box office was not yet functional.
Remember that you’re bound to experience a dip in sales when the initial scramble for tickets fades. Your ticketing strategy should include tactics for generating sales during the time when there is a sales slump. The objective is to keep the momentum of ticket sales going and make sure potential buyers are continually reminded about your event. Such a plan will generate a ticketing sales cycle more like the graph below.
Tactics for Keeping Ticket Sales Going Throughout the Sales Cycle
There are a number of specific tactics you can utilize to maintain ticket sales during otherwise slow-selling periods and revive interest in your event. Examples include:
- Early Access Tickets: Providing tickets with benefits provided to past attendees or your email list as a reward for past attendance.
- Early Bird Tickets: Providing a discount for tickets purchased within a short time from your event box office going live.
- Promotions: Deal-of-the-Day: Providing special giveaways and promotions throughout the event ticketing sale cycle for your event.
- Contests: Hosting contests and competitions is another way to increase engagement and ticket sales during normally slow sales periods. One way is to get ticket buyers to compete for prizes on who can convince the most friends to sign up and attend the event.
I will address this topic more fully in Part Three of this article when I address entertainment events marketing strategy and tactics.
Scarcity: Scarcity marketing can significantly increase ticket sales. We’ve all witnessed the consumer run on products that appear to be in short supply. Research has shown the effect or impact of scarcity of a product or service on human behavior and how it affects the perceived value of a product. While you don’t want to overuse it, it’s a tactic you should use as part of your ticketing strategy. FOMO or “feat of missing out” is a string motivator.
The two categories of scarcity when dealing with ticket sales include:
- Quantity Scarcity: Limiting the number of tickets for certain tickets such as VIP packages, number of seats, etc. will sway those on the fence to buy instead of waiting. To make it clear you can add tickers that display how many tickets are left in real-time. Another option is to display how many tickets have already been purchased.
- Time Scarcity: There are several approaches to time scarcity. You can display a countdown clock on the box office page to let potential buyers know they only have a limited amount of time to complete the purchase. Letting people have all the time they want to make up their minds will lead to fewer conversions. Another tactic is to clearly state the sales end time/date on the box office to influence those viewing it.
Don’t Neglect Door Sales for Your Event
With your focus on online sales, it’s easy to forget or neglect door sales. You will need a plan for how you will enable people to walk up and buy tickets on the day of the event. You don’t want your staff dealing with a line of people at the door providing cash and credit card to them. The easiest way for all concerned is to provide a way for walk-up purchasers to buy tickets using their phones.
TSE provides a poster with QR codes to its clients so they can display several of them at the entrance of their venue. There is no line as people can walk up to any poster and scan the QR code to take them to the event box office to purchase tickets. The tickets come to their phone and can be scanned in by your staff using a check-in app just like people who bought their tickets weeks ago from their homes or workplace. It saves venue staff resources, not having to sell tickets themselves.
Throughout the whole event ticketing process, keep in mind your goal: “Sell Out the Venue with the Highest Ticket Prices That Will Achieve That End.”
In part three of 3 Steps to Selling Out Entertainment Events, I will discuss developing a good marketing strategy to sell out your entertainment events.