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Ticketing for Sun City West events

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Ticketing for Sun City West events

By CINDY KNOWLTON
Recreation Activities Manager

Success has it problems. Our events here in Sun City West are very popular and it is on rare occasions that our shows are not sold out. 

There is a concern among some residents who believe we should offer tickets to “residents only” during the initial sale of any given show. Residents would like to have priority over non-residents in getting tickets. And this, in fact, was the way we did business several years ago. So what changed?

There was a request from many members that we go to online ticketing. It is very popular and people in many walks of life and in many areas across the country are wanting to buy tickets online. It was pointed out to us that at one time it was easier to get tickets for events in Sun City Grand than it was to get tickets for our shows because their tickets were sold online. And they were right.

As we began our process of choosing a ticket vendor, we looked at how many people would buy tickets online. An ASU study of our residents conducted at the time indicated that many would use online ticketing. At that time, we were selling 6 to 8 percent of our tickets to non-residents, depending on the event.

Ticketing companies vary in ease of use, pricing, and ability to merge our database of membership with the ticketing company. After several months of research, we went with Arts People. They offered the best value per ticket sold, and for events that are free of charge, they also do not charge us as a third-party vendor. 

The only drawback is the company’s inability to merge with our member data. So, we looked again at the number of outside tickets sold, and how much it would increase ticket prices if we were to go with a more expensive company that would merge with our member data. 

We took a chance and went with Arts People. We paid attention to how many tickets we were selling online and how many non-residents were purchasing tickets. In our first year, we sold 35 percent of our ticket sales online. Three years later, we sold approximately 52 percent of our tickets online. In terms of non-resident sales, the first year we sold 6 percent of our tickets to non-residents; this past year we are down to 4 percent going to non-residents.

Two years ago, a Board member asked us to revisit ticketing companies to see if there was any change in the marketplace and if prices gotten better. The Director also wanted to know if there were other companies that could merge membership data. We did the analysis. We talked to several companies. We looked at our competitors who were able to merge membership data and found a company.   

We visited with the folks at Sun City Texas to see what company they used. They told us that in addition to using the ticketing company, they also had to enlist a third party to develop the software to merge membership with the ticketing company – at a substantial expense. Knowing this, we investigated using their ticketing company. Again, the costs were a factor and when we presented this information to the Board, they made the decision that we stay with Arts People because the savings is substantial and we are still very low in the number of non-residents purchasing tickets.

We understand how popular our events are and we are now working with Arts People to see if it is possible to limit the number of tickets that can be purchased by any one individual. This is something we might consider doing during the first two days of sales so that at least all of our residents would have a better shot at getting tickets.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work on a solution. Having popular shows is a good problem to have!

  1. Cynthia Petry says:

    Wouldnt it be possible to add ticket sales through SCW website rather than going through a 3rd party, and another additional one to link. There is a wealth of knowlege here at SCW and I would think someone could add that to the beautiful website that already exists.

    I have been all over this website and have not found where I can purchase a spot for the upcoming garage sale at RH Johnson. It is not even listed on the calendar of events. Where do I find this information to pay on-line? Thank you for any response you can submit.

  2. Thank you for the explanation of the issues involved. There really is an easy fix… Why not follow the model of other large ticketing services and open password protected pre-sale of tickets to SCW residents only. The password changes for each event. Sent to residents via email within the week before the pre-sale. This is how season ticket holders to the symphony, theater, etc manages priority ticketing.

  3. We are thinking you could request a member # as a way of limiting sales to residents for a certain time period. Also the limiting of number of tickets to individuals,as you mentioned, and not sell a large quantity to clubs.

  4. Hi Cynthia, the issue is that our Member Portal developer would have to design/construct a new section for the portal to add member verification to ticket sales, and that’s not something they’re interested in doing at this time. Re: the garage sale, spaces are available in person via the R.H. Johnson Box Office only. Be sure to bring your rec card.

  5. Thank you for the suggestion Marda, we will pass it along to Cindy Knowlton.

  6. Elizabeth Mitofsky says:

    It seems that the problem is not the non-residents. The “problem” actually is a pleasant convenience to those who are not full-time residents who can now buy tickets to fall events on-line without physically being here in SCW at the time the tickets go on sale.

  7. Mike Lindner says:

    Cindy,
    Tough call. I can see the concerns from both sides. I felt you did an excellent job of explaining your process in making the decision you made. I would like to add a caution for limiting the number of tickets a person can purchase. We buy multiple tickets at a time for our Sun City West Resident friends so we can all sit together. If there was a limit on the number it would be impossible for us to sit together. Also a ruling like that would affect the Boomer Club who reserves many tables at a time for many of the events.

  8. Cindy, your explanation makes perfect sense. We just need to get off the dime and buy our tickets faster rather than complain when others beat us to it. If a show sells out quickly, perhaps having a second show in the wings might be helpful (as the absence of such only means revenues lost). Stay the course!

  9. Shari Jones says:

    Thank You Cindy for your explanation. There is no easy solution to this problem, but rec card holders who pay their dues should have a priority over the general pubic. Homes are selling to a younger crowd. With over 1300 Boomers in the Boomers Club, this problem is only going to get worse. They are moving here to be active in our community and attend the events that are sponsored by the rec center. Allowing the general public to have the same priority is unacceptable in my opinion. If we have to pay more to make this happen, then we should.

  10. Susan Smith says:

    We all pay the same Rec fees regardless of whether we live in SCW full time. Online ticketing should be available to all residents!

  11. Another thought. I have heard some say that ticket sales should be limited to, say, two per rec card holder. I disagree. We organized 24 people to attend the Sinatra show, hosted a pre-show Manhattans cocktail party at our home, and then adjourned to our four reserved tables at the show. This allowed us to enjoy a great afternoon together and the Rec Centers to sell the same number of tickets but faster. As I stated in a previous post, perhaps a second show should have been scheduled in the wings in case the first one sold out quickly – which it did and which future popular shows will also do. These revenues represent additional non-dues revenues for the Rec Centers. Let’s maximize them!

  12. Sandy kortan says:

    Great idea. Please find a solution to all the many non residents who are invading our Kuentz free concerts, park concerts and even trying to get into our clubs. Corte Bella doesn’t pay Rec fees so why are they able to buy a Kachina golf card for preferred resident rates or preferred golf times when they join a group of 18 or more?

    We pay a hefty annual fee here in SCW and residents do not appreciate non residents taking advantage of our amenities. They should buy a house and move here if they like our social events so well.

  13. Sandy kortan says:

    Yes. Good idea.

  14. Sandy kortan says:

    Correct. We are all residents and pay the annual fee.

  15. Sandy kortan says:

    It would curb the nonresidents from buying tickets so conveniently. That’s the issue.

  16. Sandy kortan says:

    I have had friends who were online trying to “get onto” the site and could not and when finally could get into it, tickets were all gone. Truth.

  17. Sandy kortan says:

    I agree. Let’s spend less money on re- landscaping the grounds over and over. Less workers at the golf course picking weeds by hand vs spraying eco-friendly weeds. If we as residents had more say where money spent, the morale would improve. Does the board really have discreciary $60,000 monthly to spend? We have enough programs or look carefully if programs are popular by residents. Big govt keeps adding and adding and they never relook at past programs if still appropriate.

  18. Sandy kortan says:

    Thank you Cindy for addressing the big problem. There’s got to be a fix. Add the field that’s a combo of our house number and a few letters of our last name. unique to us in scw and not putting Rec numbers out there to be hacked. Or just pay for the computer work and cut back spending somewhere else.

  19. Multimedia says:

    Hi Sandy, no, the Board does not have a discretionary $60,000 a month to spend. Absolutely not.

  20. Multimedia says:

    Sandy, Beardsley Park concerts are open to the public. The park has a capacity of 2,400 and has only “sold out” twice in the last 5 years. As far as Kuentz events, if you have an issue at a specific event, please report it to the events staff on site at the time. If you have evidence of non-members “trying to get into our clubs” please report that (to facilities staff) as well, or fill out a member comment form with all of the details. Corte Bella residents cannot buy a Kachina card or any of the other resident-only cards (Annual, Coyote, Twilight). They, along with all other ‘outside players’ are able to purchase a Public Frequent Play card for $1,400. That’s the only card available to non-members. If you have questions re: Group Play, please contact Golf Ops at 623-544-6037.

  21. Liz Knoop says:

    I think it is great that you did all this research. However, going with the old system because of cost seems to just defer the problem. Plus if they have limited functionality they many not be a player for the future in this market. Do you know how many users they have and if that number has grown or lessened over the years?
    It might make sense to take the one time hit to merge the data and/or get a system that will support you for the next 10-20 years. Otherwise you will be doing this analysis again and the cost will only go up.

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