Sell tickets at higher prices to improve behavior?

sell online event tickets

In between the humorous list of the '10 Worst People at Music Festivals' and the serious business of selling more online event tickets, is a controversial move by a venue in Philadelphia. It seems the venue has intentionally raised ticket prices in order to "improve patron behavior" (no, really). Can you sell online event tickets at higher prices to improve patron behavior? Is doing so bad behavior by the venue?

The Worst People

Back in 2013, the lighthearted website Happy Place published its '10 worst people you see at every summer music festival' list (on the Wayback Machine), everyone in the business of selling online event tickets took notice. The post by Chase Mitchell pokes fun at the behavior of some patrons at popular music festivals like Coachella and the Austin City Limits Music Fest (view the "31 worst people").

The humorous list includes "mud people", "flashers" and the very, very inebriated. If you sell tickets to festivals, or any type of event, the Happy Place article is a fun read. And even though the '10 worst' list isn't serious, the issue of patron behavior at events can be.

For example, in Philadelphia there was a recent announcement of increased ticket prices in order to "improve patron behavior."

The Transgressions Of People Touching Things

The Barnes Foundation in downtown Philadelphia has been an anchor of cultural enrichment since its foundation in 1922. The multi-purpose campus is home to great works of art, community gathering, and the study of horticulture science. Some, but not all, of the exhibits are ticketed events that are open daily to the public.

The foundation was the subject of controversy after it announced it would be increasing ticket prices for an exhibit at its new facility in North Philadelphia. The controversy isn't about dollar amounts, but the rationale behind the price hike. Judith H. Dobrzynski explains:

The Barnes [Foundation] did not put out a press release on this, but as of May 1, it is raising prices. General admission, which used to be $18 for non-members, is jumping to $22..I learned about this from a blog item on said officials at the gallery on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway said that the main motive was to relieve congestion during high-traffic periods and to increase use of the Barnes audio guide, which now carries injunctions about appropriate gallery behavior.

Dobrzynski was justifiably caught off-guard by that last part mentioning "behavior" as it contrasts with the foundation's stated mission of serving the public's interests. All venues can empathize with the completely valid business practice of increasing revenue by raising (or lowering) prices to meet demand. So why did the Barnes Foundation make mention of "behavior?"

From the source cited by Dobrzynski

"We're seeing many more people not familiar with what is proper behavior," said Derek Gillman, the Barnes' president and chief executive. He added that the gallery wanted those additional visitors, but with new gallerygoers "we're seeing more transgressions of people touching things and getting too close" to the art, he said. The audio guide now cautions visitors against touching art and standing too close to paintings and sculptures.

So the new ticket price includes the (formally optional) audio guided tour equipment, and the recording has been modified to include spoken direction to patrons about their behavior. Printed signs on the wall notwithstanding, such a move is unprecedented by any museum.

Venue ticket strategies, particularly pricing, are a subject of debate in myriad forums. The idea that a venue can enact a higher ticket price to facilitate stern warnings about how to behave is new and may be applicable to other types of events. What if the patrons of a hypothetical music festival complained that the behavior of  the "10 worst people" was spoiling the event? Would an increase in online event tickets prices to cover the costs of additional security then be welcomed?

Sell Online Event Tickets At Whatever Price You Want

Raising ticket prices to cover the costs, like additional security or equipment to"improve patron behavior", is matter of event policy enforced by ticketing software. Your choice in a ticketing website should give you the option of clearly stating any fees or costs you wish to disclose. ThunderTix allows you immense flexibility when it comes to selling online event tickets.

ThunderTix online ticketing software has the tools for amortizing costs across a season of events, with or without explicitly describing those costs to your buyers - because your pricing policy is your business, not ours. We practice what we preach in this regard by not charging you or your patrons per-ticket fees. With ThunderTix, you can sell tickets online with no fees. You get to decide whether you want to add any fees, and should you choose to, you retain 100% of the revenue generated. If your venue sells 5,000 tickets with a nominal one dollar per ticket fee, you earn an additional $5,000.00.

Interested in speaking with someone about selling tickets online? Contact us and we'll get in touch with you right away.

Image source: Wiki Commons