It’s no secret that arts pricing is one of my favorite topics (See here. And here). I do recognize, however, that arts pricing may not be at the top of everyone’s happy hour conversation starters. When you love pricing, it can be easy to slip into pricing jargon…which might sound like a foreign language to some. That’s why I love this blog post from TRG Arts, which pulls together arts pricing terms into one list with easy to understand definitions. While the blog post is targeted for performing arts organizations, many of them appeal to museums, zoos and aquariums as well.

One of the best things about this list?

A cursory read through could spur some great ideas for pricing strategy that you might not have thought about yet. Do the words “pricing strategy” not sound exciting enough for you? How about ticketing revenue, patron experience and donor engagement? Your pricing strategy impacts all of those things – hopefully for the better.

Below are three terms from TRG that you should consider incorporating into your organization’s pricing strategy.

Heat map

TRG Arts describes this as a graphical representation of the seat map where the ticketed seats are represented in colors. In the performing arts, you can stack multiple performances in the same venue, making seats darker or “hotter” the more times a seat is filled. For a museum or other general admission organization, consider a similar methodology to identify the hottest days and times of day for attendance.

Why does this matter?

The heat map helps you identify your most attractive seats or times for attendance, and price accordingly – driving up ticketing revenue. Believe it or not, it might surprise you. When I worked at Austin Opera, I was surprised to learn that the Mezzanine was often more attractive than the Orchestra. The same is true in reverse – if certain seats never sell, they might be a better fit in a lower priced seating section. This view can help you adjust your seating sections to reflect actual demand, and not just your assumptions.

Dressing the House

TRG Arts describes this as placing patrons in the venue in a way that makes a house feel fuller. Have you ever been at a performance and wondered why it was so empty? Was it really empty – or was everyone just sitting behind you? Having an empty performance hall, museum, or zoo can be deflating to a new attendee or reviewer.

Why does this matter?

Having a pricing strategy that helps fill the house from front to back or fill a museum on an important night can improve the patron experience.

Inventory Management

If you’re not thinking about inventory management, it’s time to start. Inventory management refers to reviewing and controlling available seats for sale to ensure enough seats are available at various price points at any given time to meet current levels of demand. Inventory management can also be used at museums to ensure that new exhibits aren’t filled by members before going on sale to the public (allowing you to recruit future members).

Why does this matter?

Having the inventory you need for both your top donors and first time donors can improve donor engagement.

Want more pricing tips?

Check out the full article here, and see what ideas it brings to mind for you. If you get stuck, just remember, your pricing strategy is about so much more than a price point. And be sure to join Promotional Pricing Do’s and Don’ts for Arts and Cultural Organizations – my next pricing strategy webinar (featuring our friends at TRG Arts) –  on September 10. Register here!

Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below or on twitter @laurabeussman.


Laura joined Blackbaud in 2013 as the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Arts & Cultural Solutions. Previously, Laura spent two years at Dell, most recently as the Lead Pricing Manager for North American Consumer Desktops. Before receiving her Master’s of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Laura worked for 5 years in non-profit arts. During that time, Laura worked as the Associate Director of Finance at Austin Lyric Opera and in Finance/Accounting at the Dallas Theater Center. Laura is also a proud graduate of Texas A&M, where she received her Bachelor’s of Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude and with honors.

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