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📣 Great Show! Where are the Ticket Buyers?


I’ve scheduled my annual “Numbers You Need to Know to Sell More Seats” webinar for 14 December 2022 at 11 AM Eastern. 

We have some interesting numbers this year from around the world:

  • Numbers
  • Insights
  • Actions

Don’t miss it! 

To the Tickets! 

P.S. As I was finishing this, I completed a piece I’d been writing for a week or so about lessons learned working on some major research with sports brands in several countries over the last 12-18 months. Give it a look

I. Australia is full of great shows, but people aren’t buying tickets:

Attendance isn’t back to normal in Australia. 

There are some interesting numbers here. Allow me to show you some numbers to look at in 2023.

  • 80% recovered at Australia Chamber Orchestra. The bigger question is what are the scan rates and sell-through rates? Because if you are at 80% scan and 80% sell-through that means your venue’s seating is around 64%. So if you are at 80% of 80% that’s 64%. And, if your scan rate is still 80%, your venue now averages around 51% capacity.
  • “3 Year Recovery”. Is this reasonable or likely? Tough to say. Sydney’s CBD is at 39% office occupancy. In the US, we see many major cities with vacancy rates of about 15%. London is around 40%. This means traffic patterns have changed. 
  • 1/4 say costs are keeping them away. Inflation globally is around 8.8% globally. Each country and area is dealing with a little bit different situation. But this shows that the cost of living issue is real and will continue to hang over folks. 
  • Don’t forget the intangibles: around 50% of folks in Melbourne said they weren’t going to come back to the theatre until they felt safer. This makes sense since the WHO shared data about a 25% rise in anxiety and other mental health challenges since the pandemic began. 

For You: Consider these actions:

  • Look at your data in its entirety. A venue with 50% of the seats full isn’t going to give people a lot of anticipation of going to an event. 
  • You need to look at the change in traffic patterns. Are people in the area around your venue the same way they were before 2020? In many cities, we are seeing peak commute traffic down 40%+. Just like the office occupancy in the CBD, that will change where and how you find customers. 
  • Costs are an issue. You need to look at your research here. Remember, a good price demands good research. Inflation isn’t letting up yet and growth is slowing in most economies. You’ll need to consider this. 
  • Don’t forget the intangibles, the things you can’t measure. They matter, maybe more than the measurable stuff. 

II. Do you use “Just Below” pricing?

If the price ends in a 9 that might not mean it is a good value, but the perception is that it is…

Big Idea: I posted the question on Twitter: “What pricing questions do you have for me?” 

I got back 7 in about 4 hours and thought that was enough to do a Q&A on pricing for the podcast feed. 

The one this most interesting to y’all: “Why do people insist on giving away free tickets still?” 

Great question and I’ll answer it on the podcast. 

Why Care?: I got on the topic of pricing and what pricing does for you and why it goes wrong:

You Need to Know: In the Talking Tickets Slack Channel, someone asked me why people were so quick to throw a discount out for Black Friday. 

3 Ps explain it:

  • Press: “Everyone is doing it.”
  • Pressure: “We have to do something.”
  • Peers: “What are y’all doing?”

Black Friday saw retailers drop discounts even when they didn’t need to. Businesses are acting due to perception, not data

The data shows that for every one percent you discount, you lose between 10-12% of your profits. 

Your Black Friday sale isn’t a loss leader…it is likely just a loser. 

To Use This: Here are 5 quick pricing tips to think about this holiday and into the new year:

  • Price = Value. No amount of discounting will save a product that customers don’t see the value in. 
  • Most discounts cannibalize sales that were already going to happen. This means you are just throwing away money for no reason at all.
  • Focus on brand equity: do you have enough brand equity built up to justify your pricing? 
  • Loss Leaders in tickets are mostly BS. I’ve heard tons of colleges offer up the idea that their cheap tickets will get people in the door and ready to pay for the full-price thing next time. I’ve never seen it happen though.
  • It isn’t what you make. It is what you keep. It doesn’t take any skill to sell your new iPhone 14 Pro Max for $100. It takes a ton of skill to sell it for $1500. The same goes for tickets. It doesn’t take a ton of skill to sell your prime orchestra seat to A Christmas Carol on a Saturday night in mid-December for $20. But it will definitely take skill to sell it for full price on days that aren’t hot. 


What can Barney the Parrot teach us about selling our events?

When my office was on Broadway, I used to walk past many shows daily. 

If you didn’t read the marquee to see the name of the show, you’d often have trouble telling them apart because they all relied on the same formula to sell themselves:

  • Headline
  • Critics pulled quote
  • Critics pulled quote
  • Name of the show
  • Buy tickets now

A few years back, there was a story about the Atlanta Hawks refreshing their brand to better reflect the City of Atlanta.

In breaking down the Hawks’ old branding and ads, it became apparent that if all the Hawks’ specific content was removed, the ads could have been from anywhere and about anyone. 

The point is that you have to stand out. 

Not by talking about what’s important to you.

Not by sounding like everyone else.

Not by being meek. 

You stand out by being distinct, leaning into a POV, and being consistent. 

Remember: You are more in danger of being ignored than being offensive. 

IV. Consistency matters in your ad campaigns and messaging:

Ads show no real “wearing off” effect meaning you can create one ad and run it for a decade or more with no drop in effectiveness.

Big Idea: System1 in the UK tested ad longevity and found that ads still had a strong impact on buying decisions as far out as 19 years. 

Use this: Create strong ads and don’t shy away from using them over and over. People don’t get tired of them, but marketers often do. 

Another way: I use repetition over and over…

  • Discounts are for dummies!
  • Strategy before tactics.
  • Overwhelmed with data but lacking insights. 


Because I know it takes repetition to get an idea stuck in someone’s head and the idea can be effective for much longer than that. 

V. Links:

Learn what’s new with TicketNetwork

The NATB is hosting a free webinar on 11 December. 

This is a good chance to learn about the secondary market and what is likely going to happen in 2023 because TicketNetwork has an influence on what is going to happen in the secondary market. 

The Twins update their uniforms and logos

This is good. 

The blue and the red are still there. The TC is prominent. Those are the brand codes. 

Also, they’ve done a lot of research which is often missed in putting things together. 

Is Man United for sale because the age of easy growth is over?

A new approach to an old problem can be a tough sell, but very valuable. 

In doing some work with leagues outside the US, I’ve seen potential in long-term brand building for less well-known assets. 

For more well-known brands, the challenge is different and requires a different take, more investment, and an incremental approach to growth because many of the big jump drivers have been tapped in many markets. 

Linktree: Find everything I’m up to.

Join the ‘Talking Tickets’ Slack Group. Almost 300 people from around the world.

Booking Protect:

The folks from Booking Protect will be at INTIX in Seattle in January. You’ll be able to meet the Booking Protect team in person.

Offering your customers refund protection:

  • Gives customers certainty in their purchase.
  • Gives you a new revenue stream.
  • Improves your customer service.

Great podcast conversations: Take your business to new heights by learning from the best in the business.

Recent Conversations:

  • Aren Murray
  • Bill Guertin
  • Scott Goodacre