On Friday I wrote about how an email was going around offering free tickets to opening night at Ringling Bros. Circus in Miami. As I mentioned, it was true and I was able to go into Ticketmaster.com and buy two free tickets (except for TM service charges). I spoke to my friend at Ticketmaster and got the scoop on the Ringling Bros. free ticket offer.
We all know the term “papering the house”. Ticketmaster now offers its clients a 21st century way to “paper”. The option is called Paperfast. Instead of handing out hundreds or thousands of vouchers/coupons, you can have Ticketmaster handle it for you via their online ticketing system. You can promote this email offer quickly through ticketmaster’s database, your database, or both. As it was explained to me, having a customer go through the process of ordering the “free” tickets through TM, paying the service charges, and having an actual seat gives you a better return rate. It also gives you a better advanced idea of what your attendance will be at the show. When you give out vouchers, you have no real idea of what will show up. Of course TM makes money with this, but in this case I don’t have an issue with that. They are doing you a service. I still don’t think you should have to pay $2.00 plus to print your own tickets, but I will save that discussion for another time.
The downside to this program is that you are exposing the fact that sales are not good. If email goes out saying a show has free tickets, what does this say about the show? Look how word spreads. I received a copy of the email here in Boston via two people in Los Angeles for a show in Miami. If this happens often enough, will patrons wait for the free ticket offer? Email lists are from ticket patrons. These are people who have bought tickets for events in the past. Are you hitting your potential paid customers? I wonder how the Miami offer affected the relationship with the opening night sponsor?
What About Charity?
Another way to “paper” is to give tickets to charity. There are a number of ways to do this. You could go directly to a charity; you could create a charity event or even go through your partners charities.
I had breakfast over the weekend with Stanford Shane email@example.com of cMarket / BiddingForGood www.cmarketnetwork.com. They are an online auction site that caters to charities and non-profits. I have written about these guys before. They can hook you up with the option to fill empty seats. Not only will they take your tickets to pair up with charities but they can promote your event on their website. If you are a national touring show, you could give them vouchers that could be used at any venue on the tour. Stan was telling me about a guy who surfs their site all the time looking for sports tickets. If you are a sports team with empty seats, this might be your spot. I mentioned on Friday about all the “free ticket” offers at the museums and other non-profits. This online charity site just might be for them.