Brian Franko
  • linkedin
  • twitter
  • facebook

Grow arts and culture revenue

Handling a Surprise Hit

You’ve got a surprise hit on your hands! First and foremost, celebrate with high-fives all around, and savor your success. Second, pull out your “Surprise-Hit Action Plan” and confidently optimize your good fortune.

Ideally, this isn’t the first time you’ve thought about what you’d do if this happened. A football team doesn’t figure out what to do on the one-yard line in that moment; instead, they simply call the play they rehearsed countless times. They planned to be there, they planned to succeed. And just like a well-coached football team, you’ve created a plan for a surprise hit before it shows up.

It’s a good idea to occasionally review your Surprise-Hit Action Plan. And, if you don’t have one, set aside time to create one. Make sure your plan has these vital components: Recognition, Strategy, and Implementation.

A football team doesn’t figure out what to do on the one-yard line in that moment; instead, they simply call the play they rehearsed countless times.


How can you recognize a surprise hit in time to capitalize on it?

  • What metrics are you watching and how regularly are you reviewing them?
  • What are your organization’s qualifications for a surprise hit?
  • How quickly can you recognize a hit?

Taking full advantage of a surprise hit depends on early recognition. What data would allow you to identify hits sooner and make decisions faster? Successful organizations insist on regular and frequent team meetings for this very reason.

Although not a substitute for regular review, dashboard alerts and automated reports can help this process. Can you automate some reporting? If you have the Revenue Management Application (RMA), have you built reports in advance and set up alerts and forecasts to identify these surprise hits?

Successful organizations often look at how quickly something is selling instead of capacity. If you’re only able to identify a hit once it reaches 80% capacity, you’ve already allowed most of your house to sell before taking any action, severely limiting your upswing.


What will you do when you recognize a hit to maximize revenue?

  • Do you want to implement dynamic pricing?
  • Do you want to add more seats at your top-price?
  • Do you want to change group sales discount levels?

The point is, know what you’d do before you get there. It’s a lot easier to build consensus in advance than waiting until you’re in the heat of the moment. For example, consider breaking your zones into smaller pieces to allow you to raise smaller sections of your house, a practice called microzoning.


Now that you’ve recognized your hit, what can you do in the time you have?

  • Is your seating plan flexible enough to adjust zone inventory levels?
  • Can you actually raise prices?
  • If you’re working with an outside producer, have you prepped them for potentially raising prices?
  • If your plan could include additional performances, have you queried your production and executive teams about if/when/where performances could be added?

Tip: If you require approval for pricing changes, talk about what those increases would be in advance. It will really speed up the implementation process once you recognize your opportunity.

So what should you do if you’re blessed with a surprise hit before you’ve completed your Surprise-Hit Action Plan? Be bold, try something, and measure the results. The experts at JCA Arts Marketing can help, too. Contact us