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Building Blocks for Reopening: Preparing to go on sale

Building Blocks for Reopening is our guide to great customer and donor relationships. Each of our Building Blocks helps you lay the foundation for a CRM strategy that’s key to bringing audiences back to live events. As the sector begins to reopen, we want to  share some simple, practical steps that you can access and action one by one when the time is right. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of Building Blocks looking at the different stages of reopening to use when you’re preparing to go back on sale. Use this time to build confidence and anticipation with an audience-centred review of your policy and practice.

The Building Blocks series focuses on physical reopening; if you’d like to learn more about streaming or on demand content, visit our Online Content blog series.

Preparing to go on sale: reasons to act now

We know you can’t wait to bring visitors back into the building, and studies suggest they’re just as eager to return. Polish your CRM strategy, and you’ll hit the ground running. The time leading up to your first onsale is vital to make sure you’re ready to turn pent-up demand for live entertainment into a successful onsale.

Early sales bring in much needed income, build demand and create conversation. Develop comprehensive plans to promote your activity, incentivise attendance and monitor impact, so you’re ready to start drawing in new audiences and donors from the start.

Reopening is an exciting time for those loyal supporters whose contributions have helped you weather the storm. Place them at the centre of your planning as you finalise your reopening programme, creating campaigns to reward loyalty and encourage early booking.

Four things you can do now (with a little help from the Building Blocks)

1. Generate excitement with your audience and supporters

Some audience members will book as soon as tickets go on sale, while others may wait to see how things develop over time. Look at segmenting your audience, and think about the motivations and barriers for each segment. Create incentives and campaigns in response to their particular interests or concerns to generate excitement about booking early.

  • Encourage early booking: Build on the excitement of the first visit back with limited or time-sensitive upsells like premium seats or pre-ordered drinks.
  • Maximise revenue and reward early bookers: Create a Pricing Model with Flexibility. Make it clear that there’s no benefit in waiting to book.
  • Consider a time-limited offer for people who agreed to receive ticket refunds as credit. Encourage them to redeem that value after events go back on sale.

2. Remove barriers and build audience confidence

Revisit your terms and conditions and fee structures, and ensure that they’re visible, accessible and actively promoted. This will help your audience members feel confident in booking tickets again. Plain language and clear examples will help you to build trust.

Your audience is likely to be more conscious than ever of the potential for cancellation, and will be motivated by the assurance that your terms and prices are fair and flexible. Consider removing add-on fees to ensure you’re quoting the whole price upfront. Make it clear what will happen to customers’ payments if you have to cancel an event, and similarly what happens if they’re unable to attend. 

3. Encourage bookings with incentives and advertising

Prepare yourself to encourage bookings with an Incentives Plan designed around your target segments. If you’ve attracted new audiences through digital or community programming in the last months, you’re unlikely to have detailed data, so avoid making assumptions - offer a range of incentives and monitor their success to gradually learn what works.

Consider a broad range of formats and media to tell people what you do, demonstrate your relevance to them, and turn interest into bookings with enticing incentives and a clear call to action. Gradually refine your approach. 

Potential advertising channels include:

  • Digital: Google and social media advertising, listings platforms
  • Local area promotion through flyers and posters, billboards and public transport advertising
  • Partnerships with local organisations, similar attractions, ticket agencies and more

4. Turn incentives into new invitations to support

Use a Relationship-Based Segmentation Model to plan relevant next steps for each of your audience segments. Incentives, benefits or other privileges are useful to thank them for their support and to invite them to commit further to their relationship with you.

  • Bring supporters back again (and again) with multibuy offers and season passes to build long-term commitment. 
  • Offer credit holders a free limited time membership as a thank you, and automate a reminder email inviting them to renew at full price later.
  • Invite new donors to an opening event usually reserved for supporters at a higher tier, following up with an invitation to join that higher tier more permanently.
  • Plan a membership drive to target regular ticket-buyers with your programme announcement. Social distancing layouts may have limited your capacity, which can add value to priority booking periods.

A Motivations and Incentives Plan tailored to each segment’s interests can help you choose incentives that are low-cost and simple to automate. Benefits needn’t always be tangible. Promote philanthropic giving with options to donate tickets to young people or key workers, fund mental health or community programmes, or boost core artistic budgets.

Building Blocks for Preparing to go on sale

Each Building Block offers a short, practical guide to boost your CRM strategy for reopening.