We promised to deliver a knockout speaker line-up for the 5th annual Ticketing Technology Forum in Dublin (5-6 April 2017) and we’re not going to disappoint. We listened to feedback from our 450+ delegates this year and made a promise to steer our content accordingly for Europe’s largest ticketing meeting – today we preview our content on Pricing.
Pricing is arguably one of the hottest and most debated topics in ticketing. Testament to this was seeing our dynamic pricing panel at the 2016 Forum delivered to a full house of industry experts keen to hear what others have tried. As the industry continues to make a shift from standardised, one-price-for-everything charging, our audience asked for more on pricing for the 2017 programme – enter, Annabel Turpin to well and truly shake things up.
Who needs prices at all? Are you sufficiently brave (or stupid) to ditch the entire pricing strategy and let your audience decide what a show’s worth? Annabel Turpin threw out the rule book when she decided to adopt Pay What You Decide (PWYD) for all the 2015 theatre, dance and spoken word programming at ARC in Stockton on Tees, one of the North East’s largest arts venues.
“PWYD is a pricing strategy designed to encourage new audiences to try new work. It requires audiences to book in advance, but voluntarily pay an amount determined by them after the show, based on their experience.”
Tempting repeat audiences to a show is one thing, but ARC recognised that – as their programme is made up entirely of new work – they were asking their audience to risk paying for something that they may not enjoy, and could therefore feel begrudged about parting with their money for. PWYD meant that ARC showed audiences that they were willing to share that risk nurturing the customer relationship.
“PWYD tackles both affordability and risk, two of the greatest barriers to people attending new work. In our experience, PWYD has been the single most effective way of increasing audiences for new work. Following the success of the first six months, we extended the scheme indefinitely.”
The results of what was an experiment in audience development have been astonishing: Audiences up by 34.5%; Income up by 52%; Average ticket yield up by 32%! But what about vital data?
“Advance/on the door booking means you capture data on customers in the same way as usual – you know who they are, when they have booked and what they have seen – the only thing you don’t know is how much each individual customer has paid.”
The experiment is now part of the business plan and, inspired by ARC, PWYD has been trialled at other UK venues and is gaining fans in North America. But PWYD isn’t for everyone and there are potential pitfalls. A toolkit on the scheme can be downloaded here. Annabel will be sharing her experiences in taking the risk and explaining how we can all benefit from being brave and experimental when it comes to pricing.
Annabel was previously Director of Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead and Events Manager at Warwick Arts Centre. She is co-chair of Future Arts Centres, a national network championing arts centres, and manages a number of other venue partnerships.