VIP experiences are on the rise in the music industry, giving cash-laden fans premium access and a variety of perks, and while organizers and attendees both seem to win out on the face of it, getting VIP ticketing right is easier said than done. Here we look at four tips for ensuring both customers and venues come out on top.
Guest post by Chris Zaldua for Eventbrite
One of the fastest growing trends in the live music business, particularly within music festivals, is the rise of VIP ticketing programs. These programs allow fans with deeper pockets to skip lines, access reserved lounges, and enjoy a slew of other deluxe perks. Even better: They allow venues and festivals flexible, innovative pricing structures.
At a glance, it seems like an easy win: Fans who wish to spend more to enjoy a tailored experience get the opportunity to do so, and venues or festivals enjoy an additional income stream.
But getting VIP ticketing right is easier said than done. These four considerations will help your venue or festival implement a VIP program that gives your fans the special touch they’re looking for — while ensuring you don’t alienate your core customer and damage your brand.
Music is a democratic art form — or aspires to be, at least. And while fostering some exclusivity can go a long way, it’s essential you consider your venue or festival’s context and brand when implementing VIP ticketing.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, which means that VIP ticketing programs for a 3,000 seat Art Deco theatre, a 500 capacity black-box venue, and a 2,500 attendee transformational festival will look wildly different.
But the one thing all these venues and more must grapple with is perception. You must deliver your VIP customers their money’s worth while simultaneously not alienating your core client.
Ensure that no matter how much value-added service you provide your VIPs, you still deliver a stellar experience and customer service to your core fans. Make sure they don’t feel left out, or like an afterthought: Solicit feedback and listen to their concerns. Their perception is everything, and keeping them happy is essential to the ongoing success of your brand.
Ticket pricing is an art, not a science. One of the biggest boons VIP programs offer (as far as organizers are concerned) is flexibility in their ticket pricing structures.
Our research indicates that the sweet spot for VIP ticket pricing is somewhere between 1.5X and 2X GA pricing — 44% of VIP buyers are willing to spend 50% more than GA, and 28% are willing to spend 100% more.
The sweet spot for VIP pricing lies somewhere in the middle, and takes perk investment cost into account. Make sure you aren’t accidentally selling yourself short by overpromising and undercharging.
Experiment with VIP pricing across a series of events to get a sense of what your fans want — and are willing to pay.
3. Perks that sell: Access and ease
Perks that give VIPs increased access to artists, and access to VIP-only lounges, are the surest ways to entice VIP ticket buyers. But depending on your venue’s context — and the artists you’re working with — these kinds of perks may not always be available for offer.
If offering VIP-only access doesn’t make sense for your business, consider perks that will make VIPs’ on-the-ground experience easier, smoother, and more regal. Complimentary valet parking, express check-in, and private bathrooms are sure sellers. Think about the many little compromises you ask of your GA ticket buyers — then find a way to bypass those compromises for VIPs.
And last but not least: Free booze works wonders. Never underestimate the power of the words “VIP-only open bar.”
4. Be creative, be iterative
Be creative with your perks and pricing. Don’t be afraid to get a little psychological with your pricing tiers: Offer a “VIP-lite” experience with express entry and private bathrooms that costs 20% more than GA and then a “true VIP” experience, that adds artist access and open bar, at 60% the cost of GA. Behold the number of “true VIP” experiences you’ll sell as a result of that value differentiation.
Get playful or even a little silly with your perks, too. A VIP lounge … only accessible by swiping an RFID wristband … with free drinks … and an adult-sized ball pit? Why not?
Most of all, be sure to iterate. Tweak prices, perks, options, and availability. See what works, what your fans love, and what they don’t like so much. Because VIP ticketing is both relatively new and quite popular, the “rules” haven’t quite been codified yet. So get to creating them yourself!
Seize the day, and increased ticketing revenue, with these surefire strategies for crafting (and pricing) your venue or festival’s VIP experience.
Chris Zaldua is a San Francisco-based writer, event producer, record label co-founder, and DJ. His bylines have appeared in SF Weekly, KQED, Resident Advisor, FACT Magazine, Red Bull Music Academy, and more