February 22, 2021Jennifer Sowinski
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How should we price tickets for an in-person 2021-22 season?
This is a topic we’ve been talking about since the early days of the pandemic, but it’s worth revisiting now that many organizations are in the planning stages for an in-person 2021-22 season. Pricing single tickets for when you reopen is a unique challenge, because it’s hard to know exactly how the pandemic will have reshaped your audience’s perception of value.
The good news is, there’s been quite a bit of research into this topic across the arts and culture sector. The primary takeaway from all of this research is that in general, the audience’s willingness to pay for arts and culture programs has not significantly decreased over the course of the pandemic. There’s no reason to come out of the gate with lower ticket prices, unless the experience and value of the work you’re presenting is less than it was pre-pandemic.
One organization that recently completed a conjoint analysis with JCA Arts Marketing found that their audience was willing to pay a higher price than staff anticipated. As a result, this organization’s top single ticket will be priced 20% higher in the coming season than it was priced before COVID-19. Their audience isn’t any less willing to pay for quality performances than they were before.
A great resource for seeing this trend across the industry is the Audience Outlook Monitor from WolfBrown. This research found that over 90% of audience members plan to spend as much or more than they did before the pandemic on tickets, admissions, and memberships; and that percentage has only grown as the pandemic has worn on.
If you’re still concerned about your audience’s willingness or ability to pay, remember the pricing tools you have at your disposal to make your pricing as flexible as possible. Set prices as you normally would, with similar or slightly increased prices to past seasons. Then, to incentivize your audience’s return, offer strategic discounting to those who need an extra push. Discounting will help you fill the house more than simply lowering the price, because the value message stays strong, and your customers feel like they’re getting more for less!
And where you see demand, you can still use dynamic pricing to maximize revenue, especially where capacity may be limited. It may feel strange to be selling tickets for in-person performances again, but the pricing tools you’ve always used to keep your pricing strategies flexible will be more important than ever in the coming year.
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