Capturing the Elusive Millennial Ticket Buyer


By: Sarah Marczynski

In at least three meetings this summer, the conversation has shifted toward millennials and their ticket-buying/donation making tendencies.  We’re a hot topic in lots of organizations, but most especially in high-culture art organizations.  Arts Marketing Directors across the nation can be seen shaking their fists and crying “Where are you millenials???”

A June, 2015 article in the Sports Business Journal (no, don’t quit reading; there’s useful information to be had) details how millennials are putting traditional ticket strategies to the test.

The article highlights in particular where millennials are changing traditional sports event ticketing:

  • More Mobile Platforms: huge percentages of millennials buy their tickets online or browse for events, so groups whose websites aren’t mobile friendly or don’t have a mobile strategy have had to get one quick.
  • Non-traditional Ticket Packages: Yes, you can read that as “cheaper ticket packages”.  Millennials are somewhere in between just entering the workforce and reaching peak earning years, so the cash isn’t always there for an event ticket. Sports leagues (and arts groups) have put together packages like 13 games for $89 or day of game tickets for $10.
  • Customization of Payment: Perhaps the part most interesting to me was how some sports teams are offering flexible or year long payment plans. If your average subscription is $300, that’s a lot of money at one time; even a split payment plan of $150 could be a lot for a millennial.  But, a 12 month plan? That’s $25/month which is easily manageable.
  • Incentives to influencers: Sports teams are finding social influencers and offering discounts or perks, hoping they’ll persuade their friends to join them at an event. The article states, “where older consumers might buy a ticket for their spouse, children or a handful of work associates, a young influencer might pave the way for a group of five, 10 or even 20 friends to attend a game.”
Capturing the Elusive Millennial Ticket Buyer
Millennial ticketing trends according to Ticketmaster, from Sports Business Journal

Even though the article deals exclusively with #sports, it is worth a read.  If you’re like my organization, you’ll get a chuckle when it says “For many teams, leagues and ticket sellers, the millennial audience represents a quarter to a third of their overall revenue base.”  #ifonly

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Sarah Marczynski
Sarah joined the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera in 2010 working with the Marketing and Development staffs and quickly became interested in community engagement and education. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration focusing in Nonprofit Arts Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where her capstone and other work under Dr. Christopher Horne examined attendance patterns in high-art cultural institutions and network relationships between local arts agencies and cultural partners. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Vocal Music Education from UTC, where she studied under Dr. Kevin Ford and Ron Ulen. Sarah has been active in the Chattanooga arts community, serving as the founding chair of the Chattanooga Young Artistic Network (CYAN), graduating from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, and working with the Chattanooga Boys Choir, the Choral Arts Society, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Bach Choir. Outside of the arts world, Sarah pretends to be an excellent cook (but she's broken 2 ovens), reads Jane Austen novels, and watches way too much House of Cards.
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4 thoughts on “Capturing the Elusive Millennial Ticket Buyer”

  1. > That’s $25/month which is easily manageable.

    This made me think of aNetflix subscription. Do you know of anybody trying something like that? How about $25/mo. gets free or nearly-free rush ticets. It would be like flying stand-by but with dignity and better shoes.

    • I totally had not made that comparison, but it’s a perfect one! I haven’t seen anyone doing this (outside what they mention in the article), but I think it’s an obvious must have for younger subscription buyers. Maybe it’s not done because of capacity problems? Organizations don’t have the systems to take recurring payments; although if you have the system to take a recurring pledge, I would think they system would be transferable. I think from my experience it may be more of a budgetary problem. Orgs need the cash up front to spend throughout the season and if you were to take that and chunk it up, your cash flow would change and your risk of non-payment would go up too.

      • I think it’s something I would definitely consider. Another, perhaps more similar, model: MoviePass. You sign up for $30/mo. and get a daily voucher to see a movie in any participating local theater. (It’s most of them around me, even the quirky non-profit art-house.)

    • There are defintely theaters that do this. The one that immediately comes to mind is ACT in Seattle.

      They offer memberships which allow you to see as many shows as you want for $30/month ($50 for couples) and only require a 3 month committment. Looking at their schedule, you can potentially see 5-6 shows just in September. Plus you can bring a friend for half price. I believe you can go back and see the same show again using your membership. These seats can be reserved in advance.


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