House Is Where The Heart Is
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
House is where the heart is. And if you've got your scale of house right your audiences will leave their hearts there too...
Your scale of house is important. More important than you perhaps think...
Scale of house might also be known as price bands, price points, price areas. While ensuring that you're not overpricing or underpricing your events is important, finding the right balance in your House is possibly more important. With the correct scaling, you can sell harder to sell seats, ensure that your show is filled from the front, and increase loyalty customer loyalty.
Let's start by looking at why we band certain seats in a certain way.
It's most people's natural instinct to price the seats furthest away at the lowest price. Unless these seats have a particular restriction on them (legroom or view), you're pricing these seats wrongly. If this is you, you're currently allowing those last minute bookers to get a seat at the cheapest price, and let's face it last minute bookers aren't likely to come back. Last minute bookers are more likely to pay a higher price, this is usually due to word of mouth and demand for a performance. Once a last minute booker has decided that they're going to see the show, they're not as likely to back out due to price. It's like when you order a drink at the bar in the interval and find out that there's no double up on your gin for a cheaper price and you pay almost a tenner for double house gin and cheap tonic - you pay it anyway cos you want that gin to get through the 2nd act. If you'd pre-ordered your interval drink online at home as you booked your ticket you'd probably not have ordered it.
The best place to start analysing where your price bands should be is to do a heat map of your auditorium. Some ticketing systems will be able to do this for you, but most will require you to do this manually. As a Spektrix user, I followed the Heat Map Analysis guide and did this myself (you can request this from Spektrix Support along with a Seating Popularity Report). Your heat map is going to reveal your hardest to sell areas and your most popular seats, and perhaps whether you have your scale of house correct. Your ultimate aim will be to have a beautiful ombre effect of Green to Red radiating from the centre of your front row.
If you've never done a heat map like this before, or changed your scale of house in the last 10 years, here are a few things that you might expect if your auditorium is pretty average in terms of layout:
- Your front row will mostly be Red. Notoriously difficult to sell at most venues, but you've still got these at one of your top prices.
- You'll have Green patches in odd places. This is probably due to seats being cheaper than they need to be.
- Your aisle seats will be popular. This shouldn't come as a surprise but are you capitalising on this?
- Your Accessible seating is unpopular. These will regularly go unsold and they needn't be.
If you'd done a heat map and you've found that some of these are true (please be aware that I'm not a fool and do understand that every venue has its own anomalies!), hopefully, you're asking yourself - 'what do I do now?'
Some tips to help combat this:
- Price your front row in your lowest band. Even if you find that some of these are among your most popular seats, pricing these seats at your lowest or even second lowest price, will help increase demand for these but also make sure they're sold at almost every performance, not only giving you an excellent looking house, but also creating a row of people for your performers to speak, dance or sing to.
- Change price bands of Green patches in lower price bands. Is there an area that seems to be unusually popular? These could be seats that could be moved up in a price band or maybe even two. You'll be able to maximise revenue from this area and help push those that are price sensitive into areas that will fill your house better.
- Everyone loves an aisle seat. You'll find that these are among your most popular seats because of the legroom, the quick getaway, or space to dance at the megamix encore. People value these seats and so should you. Be careful not to sudden price all aisles at the top price though, you'll still want to make sure that there are some available in other prices, but maybe in a harder to sell area?
- Some people don't get to choose their seats. If you're a wheelchair user, the chances are that you'll be restricted to a specific area, row, and seat. Make sure that you price accessible seating at a price band that reflects the nature of the area it's in. Just because it's an aisle seat on the end of the row doesn't mean those patrons will get the best from their seat. Consider offering accessible seating at the lowest or second from lowest price band, unless the view is outstanding. If you're able to offer a range of prices even better! Make sure this is inline with your companies access policy (if you have one!).
Hopefully, you'll find that after you've made a few changes to your scale of house that it's now looking a lot better. As your customers are buying up the cheapest tickets early, they'll be keen to do that again for future shows, encouraging loyalty. Your performers will have people to connect with in the front row, making it a better experience for everyone. As your house fills last minute buyers won't be snapping up a cheap deal, but you will be letting them know how to get better value tickets in the future from a post-show email. And, lastly, the areas that were once hard to sell are now starting to fill.
So what is today's action from this blog? Use your data to do a heat map of your auditorium. Analyse where you have some problems, and look at how you can resolve this by re-scaling your house and maximising potential income.
And for goodness sake, please use some sense when reading this! Cheap seats at the front isn't going answer everything, or be entirely correct for every organisation! Drop me a message if you'd like to chat more...
Want to read more? There's lost of interesting case studies on TRG's website. Here is an Insight Article on Scale of House