Moving into March means that we can now say TheTicketingBusiness Forum is just next month! In the run-up to the event at Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford, we spoke to Sophie Beattie, Sonia Friedman Productions’ sales and ticketing director.
Beattie has been with Sonia Friedman Productions for just under two years, and prior to starting her role as sales and ticketing director, spent almost a decade at The Old Vic. She most recently held the position of head of box office at the iconic London theatre.
Here, we discuss how ticket-buyers have become more savvy, the most interesting trends in the sector and what Beattie and her company’s plans for the coming year.
TheTicketingBusiness: What are the key current challenges and opportunities in the sector?
Sophie Beattie: “The average person purchasing tickets is becoming much more savvy, and they now understand who to go to, and where to sit in order to get the best bang for their buck. They shop around, join mailing lists, bide their time, look at views from seats and know their stuff before investing in a ticket, and rightly so! But that’s resulted in some really interesting results: performances which were on the same date as a train strike that we think are going to really struggle, suddenly sell out, because customers know they can nab a good deal short term!
“Performances that we have priced down because we don’t think it will perform as well is the first to reach capacity. It’s only a challenge in that it’s a real shift in terms of buying patterns. But therein also lies the opportunity to appeal to that kind of demand in transparency.
“Providing clear access schemes, communicating dynamic pricing shifts, and speaking to customers on their terms on how to get best value tickets, or how to get hold of tickets for the sold out hit.”
TTB: What are the most interesting trends you are witnessing in the sector?
SB: “Now that we’re seeing customers return back to the arts in droves, their priorities have shifted. Event theatre no longer needs to have all of the bells and whistles, so packages, memberships etc. seem to have seen a decline, but customers are investing in the quality of ticket instead. They’re much more likely to invest best quality performances, with best quality seats, and forego the extras.”
TTB: What are your company’s plans over the coming year, and what are you looking forward to exploring more at the Forum?
SB: The coming year will be focused on investing further in our sales and digital insights, and business intelligence to give a more holistic view of what a theatre goer expects from their experience. How we can focus on building a reliable and adjustable forecasting engine.