At Spektrix we work with 350+ arts organisations all striving to be more relevant, more successful and more resilient. We knowthat finding new audiences and building loyalty is a driver for many organisations.
Our experience tells us that having a great programme is just the first step retaining and developing your audience, and that the whole experience someone has of your organisation has a huge impact on your success. Here are some of the questions we like to explore with our clients to think about how to engender loyalty while also appealing to a visitor market.
Who is already coming, why do they come?
Knowing who your current loyal audience are and what motivates them to engage with you will help you to replicate this and broaden your following. You can see the value of a unified view of audience behaviour from Exeter Phoenix.
But… being aware of who isn’t coming is just as important - understanding the community you are trying to reach can help you shape your offer and your communications to have the greatest reach and impact.
How can you keep them coming?
We all know that we return again and again to places that give us a great time, and provide value for money. For that amazing experience the customer journey must be seamless, from hearing about the show to buying tickets, giving a donation, arriving on site, to using the loos and leaving afterwards. This magic only happens when all teams work together. We can make our customers’ lives easier through joined up comms and a holistic customer experience (noone wants to receive three different emails from a single organisation in one day.)
By making sure we understand how audiences want to engage with us we can make them feel special. Square Chapel Arts Centre has a loyal base of theatregoers who have been regular attenders for 20+ years and love to come in and chat through the season brochure with the box office staff. So, Square Chapel have invested in making a really great website to drive their newer, younger cinema-going audiences to buy online. This saves their sales team time, meaning that when Mrs Jones pops in and settles down with her cup of tea at the counter, they have the space to give her the face to face contact she wants. Meanwhile, they are racking up sales from the millenials buying tickets online. In spite of their very different tastes of customer experience, a small-scale arts centre is managing to give amazing customer experience to both loyal attenders and newer audiences.
How can you compete with other experiences to appeal to Visitors?
Live experience is competing with some pretty strong in-home cultural offers. Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer and other on-demand entertainment services mean that going out is an expensive alternative. So, it should be really worth it - making the case for a cultural night out is hard when the sofa is comfy and the wine is cheaper from Sainsbury’s. If you’re getting a babysitter you’d better be getting a full night of it, that means - taxi / parking, pre show dinner, interval drinks and maybe even a post-show talk. We see cultural venues introducing these holistic offers with great success. Exeter Northcott saw 25% increase in ancillary sales when they started packaging items up as part of the online purchase path. We also see organisations starting to build their long term planning around experience offers such as Opera North’s ambitious capital development
As you are developing these fuller experiences, you can start to target ‘out of area’ visitors. Staycations have seen a huge rise in the UK in the last few years , so cultural organisations can capitalise on the movement of audiences at weekends and during the holidays. Partnering with a local hotel or airbnb hosts to offer preferential rates can help extend your reach. You can see how simple this can be on Sheffield Theatre’s website . Also, partner with the other cultural organisations in your area - remember, you’re all competing against Netflix, not each other. Steve Mannix (Exec Director at Mercury Theatre) has found great success in collaborating on programming across Colchester:
“The result has been a fuller and more attractive events programme for Charter Hall, at little risk to the Mercury in terms of direct competition for audiences.”
Visitors are a great audience development target, supporting the profile and reputation of your organisation beyond your local area - as well as driving your revenue and the local economy. It’s likely you already have an offer that would appeal to them - it’s all about packaging and communicating in the right way.
If you want to know more about great visitor experience offers, see Sheffield Theatre’s success plus much more on our blog.
by Anna Wiseman, Partnerships Manager, Spektrix.