Revenue / 09.04.18
We Are Sold Out, Now What?
Even if all the seats are gone, a sold-out show still has the potential to bring in more revenue.
To maximize revenues, ticketing professionals need to manage their organization’s data better than ever before and leverage a strategy to engage customers, create a better overall fan experience, cross-sell shows that may not be selling as well and upsell whenever possible. The way you manage your data is critical says Bill Bailey, vice president of sports and entertainment at SSB. As he told attendees at INTIX 2018 in Baltimore, “A central approach to your data management is key to where we are all headed in the future.”
Bailey was joined on stage by Adam Heintz, vice president of business intelligence for Monumental Sports and Entertainment, and Jennifer Tattenbaum, senior director of interactive for the Shubert Organization.
Here are six areas that these expert panelists recommend looking at to help boost your bottom line — even after customers have snapped up all of your tickets for a particular event.
1. Collect and leverage in-venue data
Heintz began by stressing the importance of in-venue data, knowing who is in the building and recognizing entry points to a relationship.
“That could be traditional, ‘I bought a ticket,’ ‘I came as a group’ or ‘I was in a suite.’ It can be any of the in-venue ways we can recognize you, like signing into the Wi‑Fi, buying food and drinks, or some of the newer approaches around social media, like who you are following. A fan’s first interaction with the Washington Wizards might be his friend showing him a video. That guy [who is now following us on social] raised his hand to be a fan of this organization and [we must] figure out how to do smart things with that information.”
Monumental Sports spent 12 months looking at more than 20 fan entry points. Now, as they seek to aggregate and continually improve their interpretation of that data, the organization is focusing on marketing to the right fan at the right time and through the right channel.
Shubert has a similar number of entry points and different levels of engagement depending on how a customer’s information was obtained — by signing up for a lottery to buy tickets, logging into Wi-Fi at the theater or as the purchaser of record. Tattenbaum says arts organizations can be more limited in how they collect and act upon data in the venue because the typical time spent in the building before a Broadway show is often only 15 minutes. So, they also try to engage customers before they arrive.
“In our case, it's a little different from sports arenas,” says Tattenbaum. “We don’t have as much room or as many activities at the venue beyond actually seeing a show, so we are constantly trying to balance how we engage people with in-venue services, which is a great way to get their information. [This may include] Wi‑Fi, live captioning on phones, food and beverage, or merchandise. These are all ways that we can get patrons' information even if they did not buy the tickets.”
2. Shape your Wi-Fi strategy
It is unusual for people attending a performing arts show to post to social during the event itself.
“We really don't want people logging on to Wi‑Fi and using it during the show — it means they are not engaged with what's happening on stage, and what are we offering is the experience of being fully and totally immersed in a live experience. At a sporting event or a concert, there's a lot more that the customers can do with Wi‑Fi that has value from a marketing and engagement perspective. There's a little bit on Broadway, but it’s more like selfies before or after the show or outside the venue. I don't think offering Wi‑Fi has any bearing on that. … We primarily offer Wi-Fi to collect a patron's information.”
“From an arena approach, I think you are crazy not to collect it,” says Heintz, adding that organizations will historically know 30 percent of the people in their venue. “I think we have reached a point around the world that people are fairly used to providing some sort of information to get on Wi-Fi.”
Monumental Sports is investigating the second screen experience as a way to enhance both the experience — and revenue — on game day.
“To be honest, we have $16 seats in the upper venue, they are tough, and $1,000 seats in the court, which are great. If we can enhance that by offering replays and different camera angles — the title of our session is, you are full, how do you draw more revenue — that's one way. You have somebody looking at replays during timeouts on their phone or iPad,” says Heintz. “Now you know who they are because they logged into your app. Now you can serve one person an Alexa ad and another person an Uber ad because they are a 22‑year‑old student. There are so many … opportunities with what you can do to drive revenue.”
3. Lead capture
Tattenbaum said her organization is, of course, building social audiences. However, she believes it’s not as straightforward as it is for a sports team.
“We are building social audiences, sometimes pertaining to the shows more generally or just pertaining to us as an organization,” she said. “They are not large, so it’s not our first priority to try to turn them into patrons of record. We depend more on anonymous data gathered through searches, cookies and so on.”
Tattenbaum continued, “One of the things we are looking at is connecting the bar code on the ticket to the Wi‑Fi log in. We’re not there yet, but it's on our road map. All of that helps us generate a database of people who have interest in shows. We can know and segment those customers when new shows open — not just based on the shows they see, but when they go and how far in advance they buy, and all these other things that help us speak to the customers through the right channel at the right time about the right product.”
Heintz notes that the goal is to match known users with anonymous data — like an individual who follows certain sports teams or likes certain players — so you can more easily connect in a personal, meaningful way.
“You can take the information you know about a person, append any outside data sources you have and then serve them something like, ‘You follow Bradley Beal. He made the all‑star team last night!’ Now you are connecting them with things that they have raised their hand for previously. It comes back to the entry points, then figuring out the right ways to get them into your database and how you are going to go market to them.”
4. Maximizing revenue
There’s a theory that says you’ve left money on the table if you’ve sold every single ticket before the day of an event. Of course, it’s different for every organization and every market, but having five seats left when the curtain rises or the game starts doesn’t necessarily mean you got every dollar you could either. There are upselling opportunities that come with both of these scenarios.
“We provide our web analytics data back to the producers of the shows who are making pricing decisions,” says Tattenbaum. “That gives them information that is much more textured than just the sales data. This one goes 70 percent sold, this one 80 percent sold, but that's not really enough to make pricing decisions. What the data analytics tells them is what people are searching for and what they are abandoning — meaning customers searched, found seats and began the checkout process, but they are not ready yet. The abandonment data is particularly interesting from a revenue maximization standpoint. We see vastly different abandonment based on price point. It becomes a way for shows to determine that a price point may be a little too high, or another price point has such a low abandonment rate that we can actually charge a little more for it.”
Data gained upon entry to venues is also a valuable resource, says Tattenbaum, especially in the case of an attraction.
“We can look at the scanning traffic over the course of the day and over the course of the week. It’s clear which times of day could sustain a price increase and which are maybe priced a little too high. People may buy at certain points, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s exactly when they are arriving.”
Seeing arrival times is also important when it comes to staffing. Line busters can help get customers through the gates more quickly and you can identify times when fewer staffers are needed to welcome your guests. Controlling costs is another way to boost the bottom line.
5. Secondary market opportunities
Monumental Sports wants to sell the last seat one minute before tip-off. Even with a successful dynamic pricing strategy based on multiple data points, Heintz says his organization struggles a bit because of their large base of season ticket holders, which he estimates accounts for 85 to 90 percent of annual ticketing revenue.
“We have never really stated that we will never sell a ticket lower than what you [as a season ticket holder] are buying it for, but it’s sort of the unwritten rule,” he says. “So, we run into a situation where, for a Tuesday night, lesser-known opponent, we would gladly sell upper-level seats for below what we want to list them for [publicly].”
Heintz continues, “As an organization, we’ve tried to consolidate our secondary partners, which is another great data aggregation point. …We went to a set of preferred partners and said, ‘If you want to be our partner, here is what you are going to do, here are the pricing rules that we are all going to live by, and here is the data you are going to share and feed directly into our data warehouse.’ That has certainly helped us from an aggregation standpoint and with pricing integrity. At the end of the day, you have to do what you can obviously from a dynamic standpoint, but if the goal is to not anger 90 percent of your base revenue, you have to do that as well.”
6. Make concessions count
Monumental Sports has started connecting food and beverage data with its email database.
“If you buy single tickets to one of our games, you are going to get a food and beverage message, an offer or a photo based on a concession stand that is close to where you are sitting. It’s not earth-shattering technology, but … we know once you bought tickets, you are opening that email and one-third of the people are clicking on it, so it’s something people are interested in. And now, we can start using that to push [special] offers and [promo] codes and different buying plans.”
Think too about connecting your data back to season ticket holders, who in the case of Monumental Sports account for up to 90 percent of annual ticketing revenue.
“If we can tell by connecting information on the back end, like a fan’s last name and the last four numbers on their credit card, we know what they are purchasing in the arena. Think of a hypothetical, real-life example: It’s coming to the end of a season and we know that Bill buys four beers a night. We know the beer he buys and the stand he buys it from. Imagine a world now where that service rep can walk down to Bill as he is arriving for one of the last games of the season, hand him a Shock Top or Budweiser and say, ‘Thanks for a great season, we are really excited about the playoffs.’”
Want news like this delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to the Access Weekly newsletter, your ticket to industry excellence.
Tags: Sports , Reselling , Concessions , Stadium , Secondary Ticketing