Remember, You Have A Date With Us

Okay, a topic seemed to beg me to write on it today– Keeping connected with those who purchase tickets in advance. There were a couple of incidents today that demanded I give some thought to the topic. We always bemoan the fact that so few people purchase tickets more than a few days, if not a few hours/minutes, in advance of a performance. Question is- are you doing anything to show your appreciation and concern for those who actually do purchase in advance.

Recently, I have been thinking about doing a better job of serving those who purchase tickets in advance. This was instigated by an unusually large number of will call tickets going unclaimed last year. Most years, we might have one or two groups of tickets that went unclaimed every other performance or so. Last year, there were at least one group of tickets unclaimed every show and near the end of the season, there were 4-5 groups.

Upon review, we generally discovered that the tickets had been order months in advance and surmised that the people may have forgotten they ordered the tickets and hadn’t set up a reminder. Most of these were also tickets that had been ordered over the internet and the person didn’t request mailing. Not having physical tickets laying around the house, it could easily be a case of out of sight and out of mind. I strongly suspect even those who do have their tickets mailed may end up burying them in a drawer or dressers over the course of months and also forget to attend.

I have been considering changing our approach when asking for people’s email addresses so that we can take a more active role in reminding them about the upcoming show. Currently, we ask if people want to be on our email list for our monthly news letter. A fair number of people decline to provide it. I think we can honestly move to saying we want it so we can send people reminders as we see so many people forgetting to attend. Those who purchase over the internet are already getting a reminder in the form of our newsletter a week or so before a performance, but they may not be opening the email and need a subject line indicating it is a reminder that they purchased tickets.

What has made this topic beg me to cover it today is that the director of another arts organization we are partnering with on two performances this Spring contacted me about emailing reminders for those events. So I know I am not the only one thinking this way.

And… today I swung by to pick up my will call tickets for the Hawaii International Film Festival. While I was there, I purchased an additional ticket for a movie two Saturdays hence. Even though I have the ticket in hand, I received an email when I got home thanking me for purchasing the ticket and noting that it had been added to my online itinerary.

I thought this was a good customer service touch. But it also struck me as a possible solution for a problem we face at the theatre. Our customers can actually go online through our system and review their ticket orders as well. The problem we face is that people often create new accounts every time they make a purchase. When people call to ask about their tickets, we often have to look under 3-4 different account numbers to find their orders. Most of the time the account with the highest number has the most recent activity, but that isn’t always the case if they have remembered old usernames and passwords.

What I am thinking is that regardless of whether a person makes a purchase on or offline, we should arrange to have a follow up message sent that emphasizes using their account to review their itinerary. If people think about their account in the context of assisting them with arranging their lives and are getting more frequent reminders about what their account number is, they may use the same account more consistently.

Now to talk to the powers that be about whether we can activate something like that…

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.

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