Advice on selling bulk tickets for cultural institutions?
August 26, 2014 10:37 AM   Subscribe

We're a major cultural institution in a big tourist city which would like to find out more about selling tickets in bulk. Can you help?

We're a major cultural institution (nice building, lots of things to do in it, well known in our community, lots of locals and tourists) trying to build a sales program that will find organizations that are interested in buying ten or more admission tickets at a discount. These could be retirement homes, foreign or out-of-state tourist groups, corporations, military family groups, professional societies, professional fraternities, church groups, social clubs, and a lot more. (Not schools, though; school groups are handled by another department and are not part of our remit.) They could be buying tickets simply as a day out, as perks for staff or members, as gifts for staff or members, or for other reasons.

We're pitching them by phone and email and have made hundreds of calls so far.

The problem we're having is that nobody seems interested. So, we're looking for advice.

What are some reasons we may not have thought of why people might want to buy a bunch of tickets at a discount? Are we misjudging the market -- is anybody really interested in buying lots of tickets at a discount? Or are people not interested for other reasons? What have you done that's worked for you in a similar sales situation? Can you tell us about your real-world sales experience with this or a similar situation? What verticals should we be considering? What kind of sales pitch would you recommend?
posted by TurkeyMustard to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Can the tickets be resold at full price so that they could be used for the group's fundraising?
posted by Sophont at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2014

I used to work for a performing arts center with a good group sales business. The group sales department was two full-time people acting half as concierges for groups and half as very active salespeople. Their biggest struggle was getting information into the hands of their contacts early enough so they could evaluate interest in a given performance/event before buying tickets for it. Especially larger groups, like YMCAs who publish books of their trip offerings as much as a year in advance.

In my experience these groups were not interested in buying tickets at a discount until they could contact their members with a specific event and evaluate interest. They also liked having an experience in the building that wasn't part of the event normally -- a tour, Q&A w/ performers, a special meal. The group sales team did a ton of work in advance of actually selling the tickets. Usually buying the tickets was the last part.
posted by gladly at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about trying to sell them through Groupon or LivingSocial or one of those sites?
posted by radioamy at 12:57 PM on August 26, 2014

Response by poster: Tickets cannot be resold.

We've done Groupon for other things and are not, at this point, willing to try them for this.
posted by TurkeyMustard at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2014

If you don't have something on your ticket sales webpage about discounts for group sales, get something on there.
posted by yohko at 5:59 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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