Ask Me Anything: Retention from Third-Party Sites

January 22, 2018

Can organizations retain ticket buyers who buy deeply discounted inventory on sites like Goldstar and Groupon?


Our research shows that patrons who buy tickets through third parties tend to be more loyal to those sites/apps than they are individual organizations. Their motivating factor to purchase is the deep discount, so they are always going to check there first. If an offer is available, they’ll buy. So if the goal is to retain those buyers, you have two options:

  1. Use third-party buyers who will share buyer information, target those people specifically, and cultivate them into buyers for your organizations
  2. Accept their behavior and use the third-parties themselves to increase their retention

Option A admittedly takes many more resources, so here are some tips to help with option B –

Organizations should look to leveraging these buyers’ loyalty to 3rd party sites with the following goals in mind: increasing the percent capacity sold, helping an under-selling performances, selling unsold seats that are in low demand due to poor location and/or pricing errors, or building a new audience.

Below is a summary of pros and cons of third-party ticketing services.

Pros Cons
  • Clear harder-to-sell tickets
  • Fill the house
  • Bring in new audience members
  • Place the responsibility for deep discounting on the third party
  • Don’t always get the customer data— patron information remains with the third-party vendor
  • Devalues what is offered
  • Hard to get a patron to return at a higher price
  • Possible to sell the ticket directly at lower discount

Accepting third-party behavior may mean you sacrifice conversion to organizational buyers, but it does mean you can uphold price integrity for the patrons already loyal to the work you do. It also allows you to set up rules/conventions about when and why you use those third parties. The more consistent you are with them, the more you’re able to influence the behavior of those buyers and, hopefully, retain them—even if they aren’t buying through you directly.

JCA Arts Marketing collaborates with cultural organizations to increase revenue, boost attendance and membership, and grow patron loyalty. We provide consulting and software services to hundreds of cultural institutions across multiple genres, including dance, museums, opera, performing arts centers, symphony, and theatre. We can help you achieve your marketing goals.