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'Evidence-based' marketing at the ROH - that would explain a lot!

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20 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

I'd prefer to be buying subscription packages, but the ROH ones don't extend to the cheaper seats - which is clearly deliberate, going by today's revelations.

But discount packages are available  for the "relatively cheaper" amphi seats, and Friends get a good opportunity to buy these in advance. 

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Just now, Richard LH said:

But discount packages are available  for the "relatively cheaper" amphi seats, and Friends get a good opportunity to buy these in advance. 

 

I think that depends on your definition. The cheapest available subscription band for Don Quixote, for example, is £33 full price, whereas my customary choice for ballet is two bands lower at £19 (and there are another two bands below that).

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So shocked to read this. I follow the RB closely although not even residing in England, and almost always attend an RB performance every time I find myself in London.  At the same time I work in data analytics research.

 

It's quite sad that these data analytics consulting firms (including the people I know of) understand very little beyond numbers, and naively do whatever it does to maximise the target function, while in this case, revenue for the ROH. It's also really pathetic that this article's tone is purely positive and optimistic, as if this is the future and what every art institution should do. Out of curiosity I checked their client lists on their website - many big names are up there. Birmingham Hippodrome, the Met.. the list goes on.

 

The last thing the ROH and other art institutions want, is to be viewed as elitist, and this "strategic price increase" is doing exactly that. Translating to plain English: "you don't have enough money to buy the expensive tickets and/or make donation, you therefore don't deserve to attend many operas and ballets".

 

The right way to develop new audiences and keep the art form alive is by making it more affordable, more reachable. I thought the cinema streaming and the BP big screen streamings were wonderful examples, but this article now makes me have second thoughts ...

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38 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

But I suppose if the "timing of purchases" logic  is correct (and I don't know if  it is) the response  would be that by pricing those seats higher, they stay  available  longer for the benefit of the more casual/occasional customer. The  "bargain" for the latter, on that logic, would be that although the price is higher than before, this has enabled them to have a better choice of relatively "cheaper" seats over a longer period. 

 

In an ideal world of course we would  all like lower ticket prices, but I am not sure that I would like to see more tickets held back until after Friends' booking. There has to be a benefit for paying to be  a Friend.  

 

Yes; but that's not a kind of 'logic' I would support.

 

I didn't mean more tickets held back on the current numbers/percentages. I meant more all round.

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I wonder if the Ballet Association or London Ballet Circle might arrange a session with Lucy Sinclair from the ROH and the editor responsible for this article in Arts Professional.  I would suggest a ROH In-Sight session but I can't imagine that would be forthcoming.  It would certainly be interesting to see what kind of turn-out attended.  

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1 hour ago, Bruce Wall said:

I wonder if the Ballet Association or London Ballet Circle might arrange a session with Lucy Sinclair from the ROH and the editor responsible for this article in Arts Professional.  I would suggest a ROH In-Sight session but I can't imagine that would be forthcoming.  It would certainly be interesting to see what kind of turn-out attended.  

Probably just the old riff raff who love ballet.  

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3 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I think that depends on your definition. The cheapest available subscription band for Don Quixote, for example, is £33 full price, whereas my customary choice for ballet is two bands lower at £19 (and there are another two bands below that).

Yes I see, fair point. But I suppose if the £5, £10 and £19 bands were included in the packages, 10% off  would really not amount to all that  much in the great scheme of things, and now that the general booking for Friends is open  there do seem to be plenty of tickets available for Don Q in the £5, £10 and £19 bands. Anyway I hope you can find tickets to suit you, Lizbie. 

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39 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

10% off  would really not amount to all that  much in the great scheme of things

 

Other companies offer more flexible and, depending on number of performances booked, often more generous subscriptions, usually at every band except the cheapest. I take advantage of them whenever I can, even when it's 10% off my £12 Sadler's Wells tickets.

 

Thank you for your good wishes about my tickets: I'm all booked up for Winter and got what I wanted - in fairness to the ROH, I generally do.

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But I don't think  most of us are upset about the details of the percentage rises or whatever- isn't it the attitude that has been revealed that has really caused annoyance? It is to me.

 

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2 minutes ago, Mary said:

But I don't think  most of us are upset about the details of the percentage rises or whatever- isn't it the attitude that has been revealed that has really caused annoyance? It is to me.

 

Yes I can totally see that...as reported, it appears both crass and insensitive.

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Having enjoyed my visits to the ROH since around the mid 50s I find the whole attitude shown by this report has thoroughly soured my feelings about attending performances. The thought that I am a member of a class of audience that is unwanted is extremely unpleasant.

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Having just renewed my Friends+ membership and then reading this decision I have contacted the friends office and offered to help them out by requesting a refund and freeing up my blockage for all these new people.  I hope Ms Roco and the ENB will take pity on a couple who want to give a little support to an art form they love.

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1 hour ago, Mary said:

But I don't think  most of us are upset about the details of the percentage rises or whatever- isn't it the attitude that has been revealed that has really caused annoyance? It is to me.

 

 

The thing is, I can see - though not agree with - their reasoning, which I think short-sighted as well as discourteous. It's the stupidity of voluntarily going public with it I can't understand.

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15 minutes ago, SPD444 said:

Having just renewed my Friends+ membership and then reading this decision I have contacted the friends office and offered to help them out by requesting a refund and freeing up my blockage for all these new people.  I hope Ms Roco and the ENB will take pity on a couple who want to give a little support to an art form they love.

Love it!  😛.  I hope many follow your lead.   

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16 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

The thing is, I can see - though not agree with - their reasoning, which I think short-sighted as well as discourteous. It's the stupidity of voluntarily going public with it I can't understand.

Maybe they didn't know this article was going to appear.  If they did....more fool them.   

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23 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

The thing is, I can see - though not agree with - their reasoning, which I think short-sighted as well as discourteous. It's the stupidity of voluntarily going public with it I can't understand.

 

I suspect that because it was in a professional journal, it was a bit of self-congratulatory self-promotion to fellow 'professionals', and it just didn't occur to them that it would be more widely read. Either that or they really couldn't give a monkeys what their regulars think.

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It’s not just the older members of the audience they are alienating with this.

 

I am a student in my 20s and attended my first performance at the ROH in 2015. Since then, I have spent what little spare money I have on the Royal Ballet. I have been to more performances than I should, but not as many as I would like.

 

I have always felt at home in the ROH, and even a little bit proud to think of myself as an aspirant regular. When I attend my Mayerling performances, I think I’m going to feel a bit ashamed that, with my standing ticket and no membership, I’m considered little more than a freeloader.

 

The thing that really grates though, is that there is nothing I can do. I love the art form, I love the company, and I love the dancers. I can’t abandon that just because I despise the powers-that-be.

 

With this decision, the ROH have targeted prices rises at their most committed, and possibly least wealthy, audience members with full knowledge that it will either drive them out or they will take a financial hit because of their love of the art. That is rank exploitation and it stinks.

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Ironically, this is what business owners are advised to do in order to increase their profitability: not to put too fine a point on it, but, dump your old customers who don't pay so much so that you can replace them with "better" ones who will pay more (because they don't know you ever charged less).  However, you are supposed to do it from a position of strength, i.e. have the "better" customers lined up and waiting for your services before you alienate or just dump your old ones.  Thing is, if the ROH dump a customer who's prepared to buy 12 tickets for separate performances of Don Quixote (you can tell I don't have myself in mind, can't you? :) ), they have to have 12 potential customers lined up to replace him or her, because we know that ballet newbies don't tend to go and see repeat performances - if you're lucky, they'll come back next time the ballet's on because they enjoyed it the previous time, but no more.  Do they have those customers lined up, I wonder?  If not, is it a clever idea to alienate their existing clientele to that extent?  I appreciate that new and younger audiences will always be needed to replace losses among the older members, and it's right that the ROH - and every other arts body - should be trying to develop them, but this seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or something.

 

Personally, I have one client who, technically, I ought to dump on the basis of the above reasoning.  However, they have been (and continue to be) very good to me, and are a reliable client and pleasant to work with.  I happen to value that more highly than the fact that they don't pay me as much as my other clients, and will put myself out to help them out if the situation requires - something I won't necessarily do for some other, higher-paying, clients.   I regard it as customer loyalty.

Edited by alison
To correct grammar, and to add the part in blue
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Not hugely impressed with the ROH's comment under the article:

 

"The Royal Opera House could not stage the world-class performances we present without the generous and valued support of our Friends and patrons for which we are continuously grateful. However, the rising cost of staging opera and ballet also means we must change the way we approach pricing, and address how we communicate our core activities. In tandem with this, and in order for our beloved art forms to survive long into the future, we must also reach newer audiences – making sure that whatever decisions we make lead to the best outcomes for everyone who steps through our doors."

 

To paraphrase Goering, when I hear the word 'outcomes', I reach for my metaphorical revolver.

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51 minutes ago, Saodan said:

It’s not just the older members of the audience they are alienating with this.

 

I am a student in my 20s and attended my first performance at the ROH in 2015. Since then, I have spent what little spare money I have on the Royal Ballet. I have been to more performances than I should, but not as many as I would like.

 

I have always felt at home in the ROH, and even a little bit proud to think of myself as an aspirant regular. When I attend my Mayerling performances, I think I’m going to feel a bit ashamed that, with my standing ticket and no membership, I’m considered little more than a freeloader.

 

The thing that really grates though, is that there is nothing I can do. I love the art form, I love the company, and I love the dancers. I can’t abandon that just because I despise the powers-that-be.

 

With this decision, the ROH have targeted prices rises at their most committed, and possibly least wealthy, audience members with full knowledge that it will either drive them out or they will take a financial hit because of their love of the art. That is rank exploitation and it stinks.

 

I don’t think they seem to be aiming at those regulars who stand.  The price of the stalls circle standing places has been relatively stable while the price of the side amphitheatre seats, where most of the older regulars sit, has increased.

 

In past seasons, side amphitheatre seats have normally been between £15 and £17 for full length ballets.  Stalls Circle Standing places have usually been between £9 and £11. 

 

For Swan Lake the side amphitheatre seats were £29!  Thankfully this hasn't continued but, nonetheless, for the Spring Romeo and Juliet performances, the side amphi seats will be £21 and the Stalls Circle Standing will still be £11. 

 

For mixed bills the SCS tickets have been £5 or £6.  This season they are still £6.  Until this season the side amphitheatre seats were also priced at £6.  They are now £11. Still a very reasonable price but, nonetheless, a considerable increase.

Edited by Bluebird
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6 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

I wonder if the Ballet Association or London Ballet Circle might arrange a session with Lucy Sinclair from the ROH and the editor responsible for this article in Arts Professional.  I would suggest a ROH In-Sight session but I can't imagine that would be forthcoming.  It would certainly be interesting to see what kind of turn-out attended.  

 

The article was not edited by any editor from Arts Professional. It is "An ArtsProfessional feature in partnership with Baker Richards" using their corporate logo, and at the end it states that

Quote

Tim Baker is Director of Baker Richards.
www.baker-richards.com

This article, sponsored and contributed by Baker Richards, is in a series sharing insights into how organisations in the arts and cultural sector can achieve their commercial potential. The company celebrated its 15th birthday this month.

 

Below the comments, which are below that, is a banner of ArtsProfessional's "editorial partners": Baker Richards being the first in the line.

 

Then if you go to the website's "About Us" page, you find:

Quote

Here at ArtsProfessional we try to make this task just a little easier for you by creating and curating the most relevant content for those with a professional interest in the arts sector.

 

(my emphasis)

 

Quote
  • We share good practice by giving arts organisations and practitioners a platform to write about their successes and tell others about their experiences

and

Quote
  • We create a space for the sector to promote itself, its jobs, and its activities to other arts professionals.

 

So basically, it's Baker Richards puffing itself off, and promoting someone who has a job inside the ROH in its field, who probably used to work for them.

 

There is a comment from "RoyalOperaHouse" below the article, no name attached, but it says:

 

Quote

The Royal Opera House could not stage the world-class performances we present without the generous and valued support of our Friends and patrons for which we are continuously grateful. However, the rising cost of staging opera and ballet also means we must change the way we approach pricing, and address how we communicate our core activities. In tandem with this, and in order for our beloved art forms to survive long into the future, we must also reach newer audiences – making sure that whatever decisions we make lead to the best outcomes for everyone who steps through our doors.

 

(my emphasis) - and that sounds a little more positive.

 

I will also point out that as an occasional (😂) visitor only to ROH - the commute is a bit far from country NSW - I think the whole thing is a disgrace, but that clearly The Australian Ballet (and how ridiculous, they insist on the capitalised The) has been going down the same road, although without (to my knowledge) puffing itself off in quite this manner. The thing is, they don't have the varied price bands available at the ROH, and they now have the gall to be charging Premium prices for seats that five years ago were B reserve at the best. Anything centre, even the back row of the balcony, is considered too good to be in the lower price bands.

 

Also, the subscriber packages for the whole of 2019 went on sale last week, and the subscriber priority booking period closes on 26 October. After that it's a free for all, and there is zero priority given to subscribers. I'm what they call a low-value patron, as I do not make any donations, I would rather spend my money on actually watching performances. What's that you say? I really enjoyed my Friday night show and I just found out X is making their role debut at the Saturday matinée? Quick, ring the ... oh yes, the company box office is closed from Friday evening till Monday morning, I have to book a seat through the Arts Centre direct, so I don't get my subscriber discount on an individual extra ticket? Oh. And oh good, work brings me unexpectedly to Melbourne during a performance period, I'll ring the company box office ... oh right, tickets for today's/tomorrow's performances have all been released to the Arts Centre, so I don't get my subscriber discount on an individual extra ticket. A Premium reserve package for five productions in 2019 is AUD$920, with individual tickets at AUD$265. An E reserve package for the same nights is AUD$225. As I don't live in Melbourne and haven't since 1992, yet have been to at least two shows (often more) of every season since then, I obviously spend money on travel and accommodation - but of course TAB doesn't care, it hasn't gone into their pocket!

Edited by Sophoife
Added last paragraph.
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Only a very quick look at the document in Yaffa's link, above, but this is page 25, and may hold some clues.  I assume that Red signifies the hottest seats?  So, do you see yourself as a High or Low-Level Member?

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-05 at 19.35.09.png

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I too was upset at the attitude in the article, as I said on Twitter "don't bite the hand that feeds you" ! 

It would be interesting if we picked a specific performance and everyone boycotted it by not booking it to make the point and to see if the show (still) sold out. It feels like we are supposed to think ROH is doing US a favour. Odd. 

 

To think ENB have had to sell Manon tickets cheap in Manchester makes me very cross because there's a quality company taking quality dance out into the sticks, UNLIKE Royal Ballet which has never done in recent times.

 

I shall now just pick and choose very carefully. I stopped my Friend membership ages ago it isn't worth it these days and I've managed ok for tickets on general booking days. I was going to see 5 Don Quixotes but I think I may stick to 2 now. Going forward I shall support other companies at home and abroad before ROH and at least with them there are none of those annoying matinee start times 12:30, 13:00 and 13:30 which take no account of the fact some patrons actually have to travel to see their shows thus adding to an already expensive outing. 

 

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I have just speed-read the presentation aove and recommend others not to look at it if you have just had your dinner.

Such gems as:

 

 one finding was that increasing the price of poor quality seats would make the better seats more attractive

 

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Thank you, Yaffa, for bringing the report to our attention. The Chicago model suggests just why we have 26 R&Js this season. Would they sell out without the core repeats? I would like to think they might but it suggests we can't be certain. 

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Oh dear, is this the ROHs "Ratner" moment. This has really spoilt the start of the new season for me, and it was already a disappointment to see the announcement of Mr Watson's continued absence. 

 

The ROH does not seem to recognise that there are many other attractions competing for my time and money. I don't have limitless amounts of either! With concern about the impact of Brexit, many people will be carefully considering how they spend their money over the next year in particular. They may decide to reduce spend on culture.

 

Perhaps ROH is relying too heavily on the loyalty of the audience for the company and the artists.

 

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The bizarre thing is that the report talks about 'rewarding loyalty', and then goes on to show precisely why they don't want to do any such thing for those who book in the less expensive seats. A great example of how marketing-speak can be used to make everything sound positive when in fact what is being done is the exact opposite.

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