Ask Me Anything Question
"When we price our tickets, is it best to keep the ticket prices at other arts organizations in our area in mind?"
This is a question we get asked constantly, and while it’s very important to know where your prices fall in relationship to others in your area and in your genre, it’s ultimately a bad idea to make any decisions based off of them.
The truth is that the other theatre, orchestra, or presenting house down the street isn’t really your competition. Arts patrons make a majority of their decisions based on title, schedule, and organizational loyalty. Thus it would be pretty rare for a person to say “I want to go to a performance—I don’t care what kind, where, or when, so I’ll find whoever has the cheapest ticket in town.” Unless you were doing the exact same program and with the exact same schedule, price comparison between two organizations shouldn’t be a concern.
Arts consumers aren’t thinking of things in the same way as retail buyers. There isn’t a similar culture of shopping around to see if a specific brand of a product is a better deal or if one vendor is offering a better price. And because of the arts’ subjective perception of value, your competition is going to be anything that can provide similar intangible effects; a nice dinner out, family time at a museum, a game night, etc. Many entertainment options are free, or significantly less expensive than tickets to your organizations, but you aren’t making pricing decisions to position yourselves as competitive with a Hulu subscription.
Price does matter, I’m not arguing against that. However, the competitive economics of retailers aren’t methodologies we can easily translate into the arts. Dig into determining the value of your own work, and price accordingly. We are always here if you need a little help along the way.