Wheeler Opera House is nestled in the beautiful resort town of Aspen, Colorado. Famous for its outdoor adventures and cultural scene, the Roaring Fork Valley area of Colorado welcomes thousands of tourists from around the world each year. Many of these tourists visit the Wheeler during their stay to enjoy a wide range of programming including concerts, movies, an annual comedy festival Aspen Laugh Fest, and more.
Presenting many notable artists and acts on-stage throughout the year, Wheeler Opera House attracts an audience that is comprised both of out-of-town visitors and locals, and is primarily funded by a local Real Estate Transfer Tax. However, the company recognized that they had a large untapped market with slightly different buying habits than the typical tourist. These customers lived year-round in the Aspen area, attending school and working at local businesses. Wheeler wanted to show their appreciation for their neighbors by welcoming them to attend performances at the theatre. Additionally, they hoped those locals would help spread the word about their experiences with family, friends, and out-of-town visitors. In order to attract more local residents, Wheeler needed to find a way to offer these potential buyers exclusive discounted pricing and unique incentives.
Gena Buhler, Executive Director, created Wheeler Wins! shortly after joining Wheeler Opera House in 2015. “Building a membership program was at the top of my list when I joined Wheeler,” she said. Created by leveraging AudienceView’s membership and benefits functionality, the program was created to show appreciation for the community of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley by providing an opportunity for locals to experience Wheeler’s exciting programming at an affordable price. For a low $10 annual fee, Wheeler Wins! members have access to a wide range of benefits including discounted tickets, early access to performances, bar discounts, and more. From artist meet-and-greets to season preview parties, members have unparalleled insider access to Wheeler Opera House. To join, members simply need to provide proof of residency when purchasing the membership. The upfront cost typically pays for itself with the first ticket purchase. While members usually receive 25-25% discounts off full ticket prices, further discounts for certain performances are also offered throughout the year.
Wheeler Wins! has been an overwhelming success. In 2016, the program’s first full year, enrollment grew by over 700%. Growth continued into 2017 as Wheeler shared more information about the program with their community. While the $10 membership fee provides a modest revenue stream for the theatre, they have found that members consistently spend far more over the course of their membership with additional purchases. 95% of Wheeler Wins members spend additional money during the term of their membership. On average, those members spend $332 at Wheeler over the duration of their membership (where the average ticket price is $36). Membership fees and additional purchases have translated to nearly $350,000 in revenue for the theatre since the program’s inception. The membership program has achieved its goal in helping Wheeler Opera House engage with their neighbors in new and exciting ways.
Over the coming years, Wheeler Opera House is focused on increasing the number of people who take advantage of Wheeler Wins!. By partnering with local businesses to include program information in staff onboardings, Wheeler continues to find new ways to spread the word about the membership. As the program grows, they are also looking at using existing AudienceView functionality like points and membership levels to push additional benefits out to their most dedicated members. Gena Buhler explains “With so many great performances on the horizon, we’re excited to continue building Wheeler Wins!. As we look at next steps for the program, we know that AudienceView’s functionality will help us reach those goals.”