Case Study

Success Story | Two Years of Smashing Records at Ballet Arizona

Jennifer Sowinski Nemeth

Senior Consultant & Analyst

Jennifer enjoys working with arts and culture clients to help them increase revenue and grow audience through data-driven strategies including pricing studies, venue re-scaling, customer behavior analyses, and segmentation.
January 08, 2024

I have had the pleasure of working with Ballet Arizona on their pricing strategy for over six years and am incredibly proud of the work we have done together in that time. I previously wrote about their success with The Nutcracker in 2021 and highlighted their 7.3% increase in revenue that year over the previous year.

Well, it’s certainly time for an update. In 2022, Ballet Arizona increased their revenue from The Nutcracker by a whopping 37%! The average amount paid per ticket rose by $7.45 between 2021 and 2022. And they followed it up with a 2023 production that matched 2022 in revenue (actually, beat it by about $10k) and increased the amount paid per ticket by another $4.17.

For a visual of just how far the 2022 and 2023 productions of The Nutcracker blew previous years out of the water, here is a sales curve depicting total revenue going back to 2016:

The process that Ballet Arizona followed to achieve these results is something that any organization can do. Below is an overview of the timeline and process that JCA and Ballet Arizona went through together to reach this point:

  • 2018: Ballet Arizona began pricing work with JCA. Our original intent was to work with staff on dynamic pricing, but through our work together, we collaboratively began to identify that the organization would benefit from an in-depth pricing study.
  • 2019: JCA completed a pricing study that led to recommendations for updated prices and overhauled seat maps, with a seat map for The Nutcracker that was different from the rest of the season.
  • 2021: The recommendations from the pricing study were implemented, and the organization saw initial success coming out of the pandemic, with a 7.3% revenue increase for The Nutcracker compared to pre-pandemic.
  • 2022: We learned lessons from 2021 and made tweaks to the seat map and pricing for The Nutcracker. A high volume of ticket sales also meant that there was ample opportunity for dynamic pricing, to maximize yield from in-demand performances. Revenue increased 37% over 2021 (ticket sales increased 24%), and Ballet Arizona made over $230,000 in extra income due to dynamic pricing.
  • 2023: We made further adjustments to the seat map and pricing strategy for The Nutcracker with the goal of maximizing revenue from the most in-demand seats. These changes at the beginning of the sales cycle meant that we had to make fewer dynamic pricing adjustments because the seats and prices were already optimized according to demand. This meant that, although we brought in less revenue from dynamic pricing, Ballet Arizona made more money per ticket than they would have otherwise.

Below are some key metrics from The Nutcracker over these years. Notice that although income from dynamic pricing was lower in 2023, the average yield per ticket was higher due to optimizing the pricing and seat map prior to tickets going on sale.

Other factors and considerations:

  • Ballet Arizona has had an ongoing consulting relationship with JCA throughout this entire process. This means that we met weekly during each season to review how sales were going, make dynamic pricing decisions, and build a deep relationship of trust and understanding. This ongoing collaboration has been crucial for achieving such strong results.
  • The timeline for implementing recommendations for Ballet Arizona was delayed due to the pandemic. A pricing study typically takes around 3 months to complete, with recommendations ready for the organization to implement as soon as they are ready.
  • The tremendous revenue growth in 2022 would not have been possible without strong growth in total tickets sold. As seen in the numbers above, an increase in ticket sales accounts for 23.7% of the growth, with pricing strategy accounting for the other 13.2%. That being said, an optimized seat map is critical for increasing ticket sales, so at least some of the increase in ticket sales can also be attributed to the pricing study work that Ballet Arizona implemented.
  • Through all of these years, Ballet Arizona and JCA staff have used the RMA to devise analysis, identify opportunities, and review results.

Maximize Revenue Without Sacrificing Attendance

JCA Arts Marketing is the industry leader in pricing for arts and culture organizations. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations in North America increase revenue and ticket sales through pricing and inventory management. Our clients see ROI of at least 2:1 in the first year, and we’ve even seen as high as 75:1. Contact us to learn about how we can help your organization thrive.

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