Box Office Tip: Don’t Send Your Ticket Buyers To Hell

Lisa Hirsch touched on one of my favorite pet-peeves via a post from 10/12/15 at the Iron Tongue of Midnight wherein she laments a recent online ticket buying experience that she dubbed “ticket buying hell.” It covers the usual vexations but one intriguing suggestion she offers is making sure board members endure process in order to experience what the public goes through when purchasing tickets.

Devil GuyAs someone who works on both sides of this issue, I can get behind this idea and hope that it motivates board members to begin asserting higher expectations along with allocating and/or generating additional revenue needed to mitigate the problem.

Having said that, this isn’t a problem that necessarily requires throwing a bunch of money at to solve; if it were, it would have been marginalized years ago.

Far too often, groups spend four to five figures on marketing consultants to help increase ticketing revenue but in the dozens of reports I’ve read, the consulting firm doesn’t spend nearly enough time, if any at all, evaluating the impact of the ticketing software.

Having said that, the problem is exacerbated by the lack of worthwhile ticketing software options available; simply put, it isn’t as though there are several terrific providers out there with options across a variety of price points. Again, if there were, this wouldn’t be an issue.

And this leads right to the 800-pound gorilla in the room in the form of influence wielded by some of the existing larger ticketing providers that routinely come up short on delivering an adequate ticket buying experience.

As their market share grows, so does their ability to stagnate development but for reasons that escape me, consultants/providers, service organizations, and performing arts orgs seem content with letting this problem continue unchecked. But circling back to Hirsch’s suggestion, getting board members frustrated enough with their respective organization’s process may be a good place to get the tipping point underway.

But until then, Hirsch might as well apply for Underworld Air’s frequent flyer program in order to continue buying tickets online because there’s no reason to expect things will change anytime soon without outside influence to shake things up.

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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