JCA Arts Marketing recently released a study measuring subscription sales at arts and culture organizations. While prefaced with a friendly “don’t panic” notification (Douglas Adams fans will enjoy that reference), they don’t sugarcoat their findings.
While the data in this study may not be immediately encouraging, we want to emphasize that we should view subscription decline as an opportunity. There are many advantages to the subscription model, but there are also many disadvantages. Let’s take the data as inspiration to move forward and innovate in this new world.
What jumps out at me the most is just how much more valuable Flex style subscriptions and Membership plans are compared to traditional Fixed and Choose Your Own style options.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most ticketing providers offer those traditional options, but the latter can be a serious technical challenge. I’ve seen groups attempt to cobble together products to offer something like a Flex style subscription, which is essentially selling packs of ticket vouchers, even though that’s not what the products were designed to deliver.
The result is a rough ticket buyer user experience and box office staff have difficulty keeping everything straight.
In an ideal scenario, your ticketing platform will allow your organization to create ticket vouchers that are as easy to sell as Flex subscriptions as they are a benefit attached to a membership.
When designing the way benefits interact with products like subscriptions and memberships for my Ticketing CRM platform, we made sure to do exactly that. Meaning, an admin can create a Voucher Benefit product with usage restrictions, max dollar values, etc. that can be attached to either a subscription or membership product. There’s simply no difference to how the ticket buyer uses vouchers, the only difference is the way they’re sold.
For example, if you want to create a monthly membership that provides three ticket vouchers per month where the end user is charged whether they use them or not, that’s not a problem. If you want to create a Flex subscription that uses the very same vouchers and apply similar restrictions, but charges an amount equal to a full year’s value, that’s doable as well.
In the end, meeting your ticket buyers where they feel most comfortable is what matters most. One of JCA’s conclusions underscored just how important flexibility is for maximizing ticket revenue.
Subscription packages that offer flexibility (Choose Your Own, Ticket Credits, Passes/Memberships) are growing, whereas Fixed package sales are shrinking (page 10). Additionally, flexible subscriptions have a higher attendance or ticket usage rate than fixed subscription. This presents an opportunity to arts organizations to offer loyalty models that allow for more choice.
More choice = more revenue…but only if your ticketing platform offers it.