For any business, the thought of increasing revenue by £20k, £50k or even £100k can feel like a daunting task. How do you sell that many more tickets or develop that many new major donors to achieve your target? This is where small gains can have a huge impact for your organisation. Rather than thinking about increasing income in large amounts, consider splitting your goal on a micro-level, and apply this across all your objectives. For example, you could find that increasing the average order value by just 50p could see you reaching your overall target.
A simple way to increase the average basket value is to focus on up-selling at the point of sale.
Why is upselling important?
On a basic level, upselling increases revenue from multiple revenue streams.
Exeter Northcott offer customers the option to spread the cost of their visit by pre-booking their dining. They currently sell 35% of dining reservations online.
By encouraging customers to split the cost of their visit using an upsell at the point of sale, Exeter Northcott have found visitors are spending more when they come into the venue. They have seen a 25% increase in secondary spend in the building since offering the options to pre book dining online.
Increasing revenue is a great quick win, but upselling can also have a positive impact on customer engagement and build brand loyalty. By upselling a theatre tour, post-show discussion or an opportunity to “meet the cast” of a special performance, your customers experience a more memorable, immersive and unique event which can help build long-term engagement with your organisation. Adding new dimensions of the “Experience Economy” to your current event offerings, such as combining your traditional ticket selling with an experience upsell, will not only increase revenue but could also help you engage younger audiences or help highlight your organisation’s artistic and charitable aims via a new forum.
Sheffield Theatres offer bookers the opportunity of upgrading to a VIP ticket where they can celebrate on stage with the cast and creative team of the show. By encouraging bookers to contact the box office team by phone for more details, the Sheffield customer service team can deliver a VIP personalised service to those bookers, and have a one-to-one conversation about why they should make a more significant upgrade.
The team at Sheffield Theatres have also engaged with potential new donors with their event, Connecting Communities: A Celebration, during their run of the critically acclaimed play, The York Realist. For this event, ticket buyers receive a complimentary interval drink and the added bonus of hearing how Sheffield Theatres are contributing to vital work in the local community. By increasing the standard ticket price by a nominal 15%, customers get to experience and support Sheffield Theatres’ important work, while the Sheffield Theatres team get to show off their great bar, fundraising work, and now have a potential new audience of donors who they can engage with.
Upselling memberships and patron schemes is also a great way of deepening relationship with already loyal customers, and multibuy and season ticket offers encourage repeat visits. This aspect of upselling is often forgotten about but is incredibly important for your customer services team to understand. These can have a big impact on your audience’s enjoyment and relationship with your organisation as it is all part of the process of helping them understand the work you do and gives them a frictionless visit to your venue.
What are we doing now?
We analysed sales data from across our clientbase of 330 organisations, looking at the percentage of transactions that take place online and average basket values. Currently, organisations sell, on average, 56% of their orders online. This means that 44% are still happening over the phone and counter. In contrast, this 56% of orders represents, on average, 61% of income. So our websites are disproportionately doing better at driving revenue than our Sales teams.
When we dig deeper into the data it shows that, for 79% of organisations, the average order value online is more than the average order value over the phone and counter. This means that for most organisations, websites are outperforming people when it comes to making sales in the organisation.
So why are websites outperforming our teams?
There are lots of reason for this, but two will have a significant impact:
> We’re using smart tools to prompt upsells.
With no human intervention during an online sale, our ticketing system providers and web developers are constantly building new features and developing new ways of making upsells online. This technology and functionality are vital to venues who want to maximise income, but it’s been built on the assumption that our teams in-house are replicating the same customer journey.
> We’re used to an online process featuring upsells.
Whether it’s your weekly shop, a holiday, a train ticket or some flowers, we’re all used to upsells online. While upsell prompts don’t necessarily equate to increased income, it does mean we’re less scared of pushing an upsell online. Some Sales teams might feel uncomfortable asking for a donation at the point of sale, or some organisations feel it goes against their artistic mission to use commercial selling techniques, but we’re less sensitive to this when it comes to online sales.
An example of an online upsell at Sheffield Theatres encouraging the booker to consider buying some fizz.
So what’s the outcome of the above? It’s easy. It only takes a few minutes to set up an online upsell, but it can take much longer to coach your teams to make upsells at the point of sale. So how do we replicate this customer journey online and get our Sales teams increasing revenues?
Coaching teams is the key to success
Just as Bill Hogg said in his opening keynote at this year’s Ticketing Professionals Conference, “you need to coach teams, not train them”. Coaching teams is all about getting them to join you in your mission, not just go through the motions of doing what they’re told.
This is where increasing upsells over the phone and counter gets difficult. Coaching takes time, energy and constant work. But there are some simple quick wins which go a long way to achieving great results:
1. Invite Feedback
Organise a morning workshop for your team.
Together, you can achieve a lot in a couple of hours and by inviting your team to work with you on this project, rather than setting tasks or targets in isolation, you’ll get more buy-in.
Encourage your team to think about the customer experience.
Upselling is not just about making money, it’s about giving the customer the best experience when they visit your venue. By discussing with your team about what makes a good visit to your venue – is it the full package a meal, show and drinks? – you’ll not only challenge the status quo but also hear the important anecdotal feedback they know from being on the frontline at your organisation. Does having a programme improve the experience for your visitors? Are the queues too long for ice-cream during the show interval? Will the kids enjoy panto more if they have an all-singing-all-dancing light-up magic wand?
Get them talking about their experiences.
Nowadays, being encouraged to spend more is normal and we experience it on a daily basis: online and at the till. Encourage your team to talk about what they like and what they don’t like about shopping experiences, and use this to inform a best and worst practice guide which they can use to tailor and deliver a great experience to your customers.
Old Town Hall ran a morning workshop looking at upselling and cross-selling. During this workshop they set targets for their team, and now they’re not far off from hitting them.
Within two months of holding the workshop they’ve increased the average basket value over the phone and counter by 80p.
"The workshop was informative, motivating and an important team building exercise. It gave the team time to discuss ideas together which we rarely have time to do, reflect on current practice, how it could be improved and a chance to focus on taking our ideas forward which has already had a positive impact on basket sales. This in turn has encouraged and motivated the team. We have found taking the smallest of steps can make a difference!"
Annie Smith, Old Town Hall Hemel Hempstead
2. Make it easy and relevant
Find ways to provide useful customer information to your Sales team such as whether the customer is a new booker or a regular booker (in Spektrix, this might be auto tags that automatically tag customers when they meet specified criteria). This can help inform the Sales team whether a customer would benefit from a membership upsell, if they’ve not visited in a while and should be warmly welcomed back, or if they might be interested in a multibuy offer. This means they can offer the most relevant and timely upsells to customers, just like your website does.
Work with your team to create a ‘menu’ of messaging and upsells that are most relevant to your customers. For example, when encouraging upsells for a first-time booker, think about practical information such as when the bar opens and where they can park to show them
For a regular booker you might want to deepen that relationship by upselling a membership which promotes incentives such as discounts at the bar and priority booking. By working with your Marketing team to hone your upselling messaging across all of your Sales channels, you’ll give your teams a great opportunity to work cross-departmentally and share skills.
3. Share and celebrate success
Sharing and celebrating success is crucial to coaching successful teams.
Acknowledging achievements on an individual and team level will really motivate them and shows that your business values their contribution.
Setting achievable goals and targets is a great way to measure success.
Some people prefer and work better to individual goals, while others prefer working together towards a team goal. Either way, give your team the opportunity to feedback and shape realistic goals that they can achieve with confidence (remember, an unrealistic target can crush motivation and do more harm than good).
Think about offering an incentive.
This could be an annual bonus, a team night out, free coffee and cake in your café or tickets to a show. If you can’t always offer an incentive with a value attached, just having a monthly leader board can be enough to motivate people.
Don’t confine celebration to the team. Share it with the whole company.
This really reinforces the message that upselling is important for the whole organisation, not just one team. And if your organisation isn’t doing this already, it’s a great opportunity for your box office team to be the trailblazers in your organisation and show everyone how it’s done!
What to do next
Have a look at your average order values and identify which of your channels is performing better; your website or your Sales team. Knowing what you’re achieving now is vital for informing future changes and will ensure you’re set up to measure future success.
Once you know where the opportunities are and have defined what you want to achieve, get all of your team involved. Encourage them to make this project their own, give them the tools to make it easy and celebrate success every step of the way.