Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pay attention to attendance...

Attendance is just as important to track as sales. After you sell someone a subscription, you don't want to become complacent. So you have hit your subscription goal this season. Congrats! But now comes the hard part. You need to track which of your subscribers purchased subscriptions but are not attending. These are the folks who will not renew for the following season.

Many people have asked me how Virginia Stage Company maintains such a high renewal rate (last year was 89%). I am certain that one of the reasons we have a high renewal rate is the constant interaction we have with our customers. After each production, I run an attendance report showing which subscribers did not attend. If I see a continuing pattern starting to develop, I contact them either through an email, or telephone, to just talk about their experience with VSC. I don't come on too hard, and usually they tell me right off the bat why they haven't been attending. If it is something that I can correct, or address (and about 90% of the time it is), then I will go out of my way to get them to the theater. I am sure that once they start attending regularly, they will love the experience.

Maintain that personal contact with subscribers who for some reason are not attending. They will appreciate that you are reaching out to them, and addressing their "problems" in a timely and attentive fashion.

You'll Love It or We'll Eat It!

I love Taco Bell's new guarantee (I know you are probably thinking that I eat out too often now). As you walk into their restaurants, there are big signs on the walls that state, "if you don't like it, we'll make it right or we'll eat it." As a customer, I know that although it only cost me 79 cents, if there is something wrong with my taco, they stand behind their product. I wonder how many people actually ask for a full refund? I bet there are very few...

At the LORT conference, many of my colleagues were talking about offering a money back guarantee. Some theaters had a guarantee already in place, and they noticed that postcards that mentioned the guarantee sold had a much higher ROI than those sent out without the guarantee. But even more interesting was that most theaters reported having ZERO requests for a refund. There are very few people in the world who are argumentative enough to walk straight up to the box office and ask for a full refund even if they had the worst experience ever. So if you provide a good experience to your customers, I would imagine that you have nothing to worry about. Increased sales with little risk...seems like an easy call to make.

"Faith Night" at the Ball Stadium?

We all try inventive ways of bringing in new target demographics into our venues. Some large mainstream attractions have even gotten a lot of press by having particular days dedicated to a target demographic (i.e. Disneyland and gay day). However, this one caught me off guard this morning when I heard about it on CNN Headline News. Now before I go another step, I should say that I myself am a practicing Christian, but is this taking it a step too far?

The Atlanta Braves announced that they will be holding three "faith nights" at the ball park. In an interview with the Vice President of Marketing from the Atlanta Braves this morning on CNN Headline News, he admitted that the primary reason for holding the event is to target the populations of over 5,700 churches in a 70 mile radius of the stadium. That in itself doesn't necessarily bother me. But handing out bibles to everyone that goes through the gate? or better yet, Moses bobbleheads? or how about holding a concert with a Christian Rock band before the game? With a seating capacity of over 50,000, surely they understand that there will be many people attending the game who are not Christian. Will they take kindly when they are handed a bible at the gate? or when forced to listen to Christian worship music? is it an appropriate step to have a major league ball team endorse one religion over the other, going so far as to have a ballplayer as the official spokesman for the event?

On the flip side, I don't know how I would feel if I were a season ticket holder, and when I came to the ball game, I was handed a koran and a free prayer mat with the Atlanta Braves logo on it.

Check out an article on "faith night" here.