Rhode Island Philharmonic—College Club
A frequent-user card for “financially strapped” college students
The Rhode Island Philharmonic, working to build student attendance at concerts, created a student frequent-user card modeled after a similar adult card. The adult audience development program allows patrons to attend any number of concerts throughout the season at the last minute for a one-time fee of $99, receiving the best seats available at that time. The Rhode Island Philharmonic decided to use this model for the college student demographic.
Making it Work:
The Philharmonic cut the cost for the frequent user card to $25 and began advertising in local newspapers and college publications to reach their target audience. College students expressed little interest from this marketing approach, and few cards sold. Changing tactics, the Philharmonic connected with professors at nearby colleges and universities. By actively visiting the schools, the orchestra successfully turned this around. Resident Conductor Francisco Noya and the orchestra’s box office manager visited schools to promote the program. Most often, a college music professor served as liaison with the orchestra and prepared the students for the event; in some cases this involved informal assemblies. The program’s success revolved around personal contact with the orchestra’s resident conductor. A student paid the $25 fee, then received the laminated card on the spot. This quick exchange became the main selling point, allowing students immediate results without the responsibility of making phone calls. The student gains admittance to the concert through an early arrival, a display of the College Club card, and student photo ID. The card grants freedom from planning ahead while filling seats left unsold on concert day, satisfying the needs of both patron and orchestra. The Philharmonic visited Providence College, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island, and there are plans to contact additional colleges this season.
The program finished its first season with a total of 79 cards sold to students during 2005-06. On any given concert, between 20 and 40 cards were used for tickets. There was no indication of lost revenue caused by students moving from single-ticket purchases to the $25 yearly fee. As the 2006-07 season begins, the Philharmonic anticipates a similar marketing approach with the resident conductor visiting schools, and anticipates a higher card usage with the possibility of having to place a limit on the number of cards sold.
For Further Contact:
Pam Kennedy, Director of Marketing