What do single ticket buyers value? Whereas subscribers typically value seeing all the shows and getting the best possible seats, single ticket buyers give the highest rating to choosing exactly which shows to attend. They are willing to give up access to the best seats in order to have full choice of programming.
But like subscribers, single ticket buyers have busy lives. Sometimes they do not purchase tickets in advance since they are not sure of their schedule; sometimes they buy the tickets, then find cannot attend that performance for some reason. So single ticket buyers value a ticket exchange privilege too!
Many managers tell me that they don’t want to offer ticket exchange privileges to single ticket buyers since this is a subscriber benefit and is a hassle in the box office. Both of these concerns can readily be managed by 1) charging a higher fee to single ticket buyers than subscribers (if subscribers have to pay a fee at all), and 2) charging enough to cover the additional time required of box office personnel. I learned in my own audience research that many more single ticket buyers would purchase tickets in advance if they knew that the tickets could be exchanged. And respondents to my surveys reported that they are happy to pay a reasonable fee for this service.
Consider the benefits that accrue to the organization when it offers ticket exchanges upfront to all ticket buyers – and advertises this well so people know that long-standing policies have changed. With ticket exchange privileges, people will buy tickets as soon as they hear about a show that interests them. They are more likely to purchase tickets early, which is a clear benefit to the organization, rather than waiting and forgetting about the show or thinking they won’t be able to get decent seats later on. Also, with dynamic pricing, many organizations raise prices as the performance date approaches, making it more expensive for patrons who wait. With ticket exchange privileges, people will feel better about the organization, which now is clearly demonstrating that it prioritizes its patrons’ needs and preferences. This policy can go a long way toward building loyalty and commitment to the organization.
Historically, the final words that ticket buyers hear when placing an order are: “All sales are final; no refunds or exchanges.” Just imagine how wonderful ticket buyers will feel hearing instead: “Enjoy the show! If you find for any reason you are unable to attend this performance, your tickets may be exchanged for a small fee up to 24 hours before the performance for any other performance this season.”