TicketForce Client, Raue Center for the Arts, has implemented a new membership program that has patrons signing up in droves. Since its launch on May 12th of this year, 277 Members have signed up—of those 266, 171 had no prior history of donating to the theater, and 77 are first time ticket buyers.
Finding a way to offer a unique membership program that will entice new buyers and first time donors can be a struggle for many theaters. In this feature, we’ll share the success story behind the RaueNOW Membership Program as told to us by Development Manager James Knight.
Knight describes the RaueNOW Membership Program as resting on two pillars: a great discount, and experiences that are unique to the Raue Center.
One of their core decisions was to offer a discount that would be “too good to pass up,” says Knight. For the Raue Center, that meant offering a 30% discount on two tickets to all performances. Taking into account the average ticket price at the theater, a 30% discount means that the basic annual membership will pay for itself after being used only three times (with 2 tickets purchased per performance)—a huge selling point for the membership. The membership thus becomes a reward system for loyal patrons who already frequent the theater, and a way to entice the more occasional patron into increasing their number of annual visits. One of the Raue Center's goals in setting up a new membership program was to simply drive up general attendance—member or not. Because of this, any loss of revenue on their part from the 30% is “washed out by higher attendance, and we get more people in our doors every year,” Knight says.
The second pillar of their membership—offering experiences unique to the theater—was based off similar models of other membership programs offered by The Public Theater, Alvin Ailey, Stratford Festival, and others. Knight and the Raue Team wanted to create benefits and events that patrons couldn’t get anywhere else. These include perks like backstage access, special tasting events in their upstairs lounge, reserved seats at opening nights, members only rehearsal events, opportunities to meet and greet with the artists, and other unique benefits. They also had the insight to turn their upstairs bar into a Members Only bar and remodeled a part of their downstairs lobby into another bar to accommodate non-members. Knight acknowledges that “having the space in our facility to pull this off” was an important part of the implementation. He also explains how this second pillar of their program requires a lot of attention to detail—forecasting and scheduling “Members Only” events, making sure people are getting invitations to said events, and having someone available to take calls about membership questions.
Other perks of RaueNOW include its donor based initiative, which ensures that memberships are 100% tax deductible, an added incentive. Knight has also elected to include a tier based membership system to appeal to a wider array of patrons: the basic level, for example, begins at $50 and offers the 30% discount and access to the Members Only bar. This offers new patrons the chance to buy in at a lower level before committing to a higher priced membership like the Producer’s Circle, which includes exclusive tastings, artist Meet and Greets, and a seat plaque.
Overall, Knight is pleased with the immediate success of the program, and believes that his patrons are, too. His wish is that the money people save on tickets will ultimately be reinvested in the theater when members begin attending more performances.
The best part? The double investment they're seeing as patrons praise the discount and attendance fly upward. As Knight points out, “We pride ourselves in being a hub for our community, and the more members of that community that walk through our doors every year, the better.”
To read more about the RaueNOW Membership levels, visit rauecenter.ticketforce.com.
To see the donation capabilites that TicketForce offers with their solutions, visit our Fund Management page.