It was the night of the big show. The final dress rehearsal had gone off without a hitch and all the dancers were pumped and ready to perform their hearts out in front of a live audience. But as the curtains rose and the first few notes of the music played, something was wrong.
The seats in the front three rows of the theater were empty.
The show must go on, but the thought of all those unsold tickets was weighing heavily on the owner's mind. After the final curtain call, they went home to think. What could they have done differently to sell more tickets and make the show a success?
Most people think the problem was the marketing but there is one other important factor: Pricing.
Big ticketing agencies have big budgets for statistical analysis to figure out pricing, but for the little guy, it's not always easy to get bums in seats.
As a dance studio owner, you may not have given much thought to the way you price your tickets. After all, what does it matter how much you charge as long as people are willing to pay it? However, the truth is that the way you price your tickets can have a significant impact on how many people are willing to buy them. For example, if you could charge too much… but you could also charge too little. This can lead to lost revenue and empty seats at your shows. It can even lead to people feeling like your shows are not worth their time and money hurting future sales.
I know. I've made many mistakes and even had the horrible experience of having to cancel shows because of poor attendance.
To avoid these problems, it is important to take a strategic approach to pricing your tickets.
One easy way to avoid pricing disasters is to have a simple and structured pricing system.
The first step is what I call the 50% rule. Unless you have a track record of selling out, you want to be sure you can break even on the theatre hire if only 50% of the available seats are sold. I used to have that at 80% but post-pandemic I've adjusted downwards. Not THAT creates a lot of stress. But it need not. If you find that you can't make that work, it is BETTER to choose a smaller venue and really spend on improving production values to help sell your next show than it is to get a gorgeous venue and go into debt. There is NO SHAME in having a GREAT show with High production values in a well-equipped sports hall.
After that, here goes.
Start early. The more time you have to sell tickets the less stress you will have.
Make sure your prices are easy to understand by using a pricing structure that people are familiar with. You can use a pricing system like this:
– Advance ticket price
– Door ticket price
– Group ticket price
This makes it easy for people to understand how much they will be paying, and also how much they will save if they buy tickets in groups.
Try to make paying on the door as unattractive as possible. Remember, if you only have 50% of the house to fill you can make more aggressive pricing decisions. Even making the door as much as 30% more expensive to encourage advance sales.
Be careful not to create a "bare strip" if you use different pricing levels by making the pricing differences too steep. The feeling you want from your customer is "oh, the gold section is only x more" vs "x for Gold?!? I'll just go silver"
Some of this will depend on theater configuration and a lot will depend on how popular your shows are. More popular shows (meaning you typically sell out) or significantly better sightlines mean more power to have different pricing levels.
You could also try offering something special for the higher price tickets, like a free t-shirt, or glass of wine or something (ok… those are not cheap but you get the idea.)
So there it is. Easy and simple tips to help you sell more tickets and increase revenue for your dance studio's shows. Follow these tips and implement a structured system, and you'll be well on your way to success. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start selling those tickets!
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