So, lets think of your .org’s overall branding campaign as the “brand.”  Your marketing campaign would be a “mini-brand” within the larger brand.

It is important to realize that any good Group Sales campaign is going to mirror that of the larger organization, but have it’s own unique target demographic, and therefore special needs when it comes to branding.

Don’t forget that groups want to know about group-related things.  Some will be interested in what the regular ticket prices are, but only in conjunction with what the group rate is.  Some will be interested in what pre-performance functions you have, but only in relation to which ones groups are permitted to attend.

In most cases it it well worth it to print a companion to your regular brochure that has only group information or to print entirely separate group collateral all together.  It is important that the “brand” gets out to the correct people, and the same applies for your “mini-brand.”

Think you don’t have the budget for group-specific collateral?  Contact me and I’ll show you how!


For this installment of innOVATIONS, I am pleased to bring you the thoughts of Chris Harrower, Group Sales blogger extraordinaire. I asked him for his thoughts on new ways of doing things in the field of Group Sales.

New ways of doing things? We’ve all be talking about that for years now, looking for the “next big thing” in group travel. If you ask 20 “seasoned pro”‘s, you’d get 21 different answers.

Some people swear by experiential tourism (go and DO, not just go and see).

Others say mutil-option itineraries are the mythical “wave of the future”. Instead of everyone going in lockstep to see an attraction, they get a menu. After chosing what they want to do, 10 may go to a show, 12 may go shopping, 8 want to play golf, and the rest are just going to chill at the hotel pool. It means more work for the Operator and local Receptive, but if it means more people on the coach, it’s worth the work.

To be honest from my (slightly skewed) point of view, I think that this is just another cycle, and as the “Boomer” generation continues to age, they will start getting on the coaches that they have thus far resisted. If you combine escalating gas prices with increasing environmental awareness, traveling by Motorcoach is going to become more of a viable option, especially with some of the new coaches in the pipeline! The new buses that New World Tours has put on the road are nothing short of amazing, and will help to drive the Boomers our way. Large flat screen monitors, each playing a separate program; satellite TV and radio; computer projection and more adds up to a head-turning package that everyone I know that has seen it has said “I’d love to travel on one of these!”.

It means a huge investment at a time when most companies are cutting back…but visionaries like Dave Bolen will step up, do what must be done, and help lead us into the next generation. We, as suppliers, need to do everything we can to help support, encourage, and even endorse these Operators. If they succeed, and others start following in their footsteps, then we’re back on track, and the Group industry as a whole succeeds.

Be sure to check out Chris’ blog at:

The Marketing World is All A-Twitter

Twitter is fast becoming the hot new thing.  You can follow everyone from the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company to the 16-year-old next door.  It has become a sort of “mini-blog” outlet .  Check out my Twitter page!

Website Content

I can’t stress enough the importance of having a Group Sales presence on your .org’s website.  Even just 3 years ago, it wasn’t all that common to see an entire page of a site dedicated to Group Sales.  Now, it is a necessity. 

I still come across sites that do indeed have a page for Group Sales, but there is only one sentence that goes a little something like this:

Main Street Opera Company offers discounts to groups of 10 or more.  Please e-mail [email protected] for more information.

I know that in the end, all Group Sales Managers want to have personal contact with their group leaders, but it is imperative that more information about your program is provided so that they want to make the call.

Here are some of the necessities for your Group Sales page:

1. Phone Number
2. E-Mail Address
3. Minimum Group #
4. Ticket Discount Amount
5. Payment Options (pay over time, deposit due up front, etc.)

You also probably want to update your page frequently and include any specials or extra discounts that you are offering.  Also, if you have the option, have your website administrator put in a fillable form where a prospective group leader can fill in their name, group name, and contact information for you to get back to them about their inquiry.

Send me your stuff!!!

I am starting a project to collect group sales brochures from as many arts organizations as possible.  If you have a PDF of your brochure, please send it to me at [email protected] as soon as you are able.  I will post them in a little gallery so we all can see them and get ideas from our peers.


‘Tis the Season for Group Sales!

Now is the time to get those group sales in for the 08-09 season.  Group subscription renewals are probably winding down and single tickets are starting up.  Don’t forget to personally contact any groups who haven’t renewed or single ticket groups who haven’t called in yet.

If you have an e-marketing plan for your groups, now is the time to be sending out timely e-blasts about upcoming shows and ticket availability.

Also, if your group brochure hasn’t gone out yet, you might want to make that your first priority.  Even if your brochure normally goes out late, don’t hesitate to send out a postcard or simply a letter to your existing groups and prospects.   Without this kind of reminder, the group leaders won’t have your organization at the front of their mind.

Convention Alert

The National Performing Arts Convention is in Denver this year: it out! 

Prices and Perks

Many companies offer a complimentary ticket to group leaders as a perk for organizing a group.  Depending on the organization, this may be in conjunction with up to a 30% discount on the tickets.  Worried about your bottom line?  Worried about large numbers of comp tickets appearing on your ticket sales reports?  If you offer a generous discount on the tickets for groups already, consider doing away with the comp ticket policy.  Or, raise the minimum number of tickets that must be purchased in order to qualify for the comp.  Perhaps your minimum group number is 10 tickets, but your minimum number to get the comp may be 50 tickets.  This way, you are actually rewarding people for bringing large groups, as opposed to just for bringing a group at all.  

Stop Selling

Please see the link for an EXCELLENT speech by Andrew McIntyre about Arts Marketing and ticket-selling.

He really makes some excellent points in that “traditional” tactics don’t tend to work very successfully and we (in marketing AND sales) need to re-group.

Buy One Get One Free (well…not quite)

So, you’ve got clients who habitually order tickets to only one performance per season. That might be the limit for some groups depending on how busy their schedule is. However, it might be the time to actively court them into buying 2 shows instead of just one.

How? Offer an extra discount with the more shows they buy! Assuming this is ok with your head marketing bigwigs, of course.

An example: buy 1 opera and get 10% off, buy 2 operas and get 15%, buy 3 operas and get 20%, etc. This will work well for a smaller company that would put on no more than 6 productions per season.
Another route: buy 1 opera and get a 2nd at a 50% discount

Of course you can tailor these options to only be valid for certain productions or specific performance dates and times for those productions but you get the general idea.