Would You Only List One Online Ticket Price?

I hope everyone from the Box Office and Marketing sectors takes a moment today to drop by Joe Patti’s Butts In The Seats post from 8/5/2013 where he asks colleagues about their practices with listing ticket price tiers online. What caught my attention, and I hope catches yours too, was the bit about his box office software provider suggesting they only list the highest ticket price level because it would inspire higher sales at that level.

When I arrived at my current job, I noticed only the top level ticket price for each area was listed online even though we offer just about the same discount categories as we did in Hawaii. Thinking it a mistake, I asked my box office manager why that was and she told me the software vendor suggested we only offer the highest level because people would take advantage.

Thinking this may not be the best course of action, Patti tosses the issue out into the open and invites practical insight via comments.

Based on direct experience, the reasons that justify the strategy Patti described are few and far between and the only one that repeatedly jumps to mind are special fundraising events such as galas; but even then, those events aren’t as likely to have tiered discount pricing.

From the narrower perspective of someone that develops an arts org website publishing platform, the Venture Platform, we make sure to incorporate as many potential pricing configurations as possible and let users decide which they want to use on a per event (and even per occurrence) basis.

In its current configuration, we allow arts org users to list prices via the following options:

  1. Price Range: enter lowest price in first field and highest in second field.
  2. Tickets From: enter lowest ticket price in first field and leave second field blank.
  3. Single Ticket Price: Enter the single ticket price into both fields.
  4. Free events: enter $0 into both fields and “Free” will appear in place of a dollar value.
  5. No Listed Price. If empty, ticket prices will not show on frontend.

We also provide methods for listing special prices outside the regular ticket price scheme, such as student, seniors, etc.

Nonetheless, I’m curious to know what others think and hope you take the time to leave a comment at Patti’s post. More so, it will be fascinating to see if Patti follows up on the post with what he decided to do, and why, at his organization.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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5 thoughts on “Would You Only List One Online Ticket Price?”

  1. If only the highest price for each concert were advertised, I’m sure many orchestra patrons would shell out more for better tickets and that this would obviously be financially beneficial. I’m also sure that passionate supporters of the orchestra with a lower willingness to pay (local orchestral music students, for example) will be willing to do a little extra research to see if lower priced tickets are available and will still come. But what about the patrons who aren’t already orchestra fans, who aren’t necessarily willing to shell out high sums for tickets to something they’re not sure they’ll enjoy? If they don’t have a passion for orchestral music they may not be inclined to research to see if there’s a “hidden” low-cost ticket available somewhere – they might just as easily take their money to some other source of entertainment that they already know they’ll probably enjoy.

    I don’t mean to suggest that it’s not important for orchestras to maximize revenue to stay on financially solid footing in the short term. But it’s the new audience members that we bring in today, who we build a long-term connection with, who will provide the contributed revenue that will keep orchestras alive in the decades to come.

    • Why don’t they just list the highest prices first when showing options? Those who can only afford the lower options will find them if they’re there, but those who can potentially afford the higher prices might miss the if they’re listed last. If only one price is listed and someone is new to orchestra concerts, they may have the impression that that would be the only price. They might not know to dig and therefore end up missing out.

      Just a thought.

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