Dear Event Doctor:

Tickets to our event are not selling as quickly as we had predicted, even after an initial round of advertising. What can we do to bring up the numbers when selling tickets in advance of an event?

—Ticket to Ride

Dear Ticket:

The first step is to try to identify why your tickets are not selling. Are they too expensive for your targeted fans or the region in which you are holding the event? If so, you might consider promotional offers like family packages (for example, a discounted price or including other value with the purchase of four tickets). You can also enlist sponsors to publicize discount offers at their retail locations or online.

How far in advance did you kick off your advertising campaign? If it was a long time ago, your target audience may have forgotten about the event and what makes it special. Consider an additional advertising campaign, with a change of message, spokespersons, appearance or script that emphasizes urgency. Are most attendees from other areas of the country? Offer members of the community an opportunity to sample the event at a reasonable price.

You should also consider the different types of ticket. Which ones aren’t selling—the most expensive or the most economical? The ones facing into the sun, farthest from the action or on the windiest side? Engage with sponsors who can offer value to sitting in non-prime areas (such as discounts on sunshades, sunscreen, binoculars or caps). Design your response with these key phrases in mind: Identify reasons, recapture top-of-mind awareness, establish urgency, convey value and welcome new audiences.

If, after all your efforts and hard work, there are still tickets available in the week leading up to the event, examine the event’s past history and the market in which it is held. Is the event, or host city, characterized by a late-buying audience? How many tickets can you expect to sell during the last few days?

If the number of available tickets is well in excess of what you can expect to sell, select a deserving audience to enjoy the event as your guests: military service members and their families, a children’s hospital, youth leagues or students. Work with the local administrators of these organizations to arrange distribution of tickets to deserving individuals and to provide chaperones, if needed. These groups will drive no ticket revenues, and little from concessions or merchandise, but doing a good thing for the community—and publicizing your good deeds—can do more than just fill empty seats.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.