If You Aren’t Selling Flex Subscriptions, You’re Missing Out


By: Drew McManus

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.

Download The Report From JCA

Drew McManus
Drew McManus
In addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower. With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.
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