Case Study – Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

HPO & Cosmos: The Perfect Duet


Executive Summary

Founded in 1884 under the name The Hamilton Orchestral Society, The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) as it’s known today has grown to become one of Canada’s major professional orchestras.

Each season, which runs from September through May, is made up of shows which can be broadly categorized as “Classical” or “Pops”. This allows the HPO to appeal to fans of the classical art form, while simultaneously attracting new fans with a modern/contemporary twist.

Facing similar challenges as many ticket selling entertainment properties, HPO sought the services of Cosmos to place further emphasis on Customer service, retention and fan reacquisition.

About the HPO

Playing out of the Great Hall at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place), the HPO is committed to enriching & serving the cultural life of the Hamilton/Burlington region. In addition to putting on it’s season of professional orchestral shows, the HPO also provides music education programs to address the needs of the community. A number of HPO musicians have gone on to major careers – perhaps most famously, the Canadian Brass. Members of the HPO perform with many other ensembles including the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the Orchestra of the National Ballet and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The Challenges

Not unlike many ticket selling entertainment properties these days, the HPO was faced with the challenge of maintaining/growing it’s attendance and ticket sales revenue from its season of professional orchestral shows. In recent years, many entertainment properties have felt the squeeze of a fragmented entertainment dollar. Operating in a classical art form, the HPO recognized that it needed to place further emphasis on attracting new patrons to the orchestra, graduating single ticket buyers into subscribers, and simultaneously providing an even greater level of service to it’s loyal subscriber base to retain their business.

The Solution

Understanding the challenges that the HPO faced, Cosmos was brought on to provide a turnkey solution. In a perfect world, the HPO may have considered bringing on a team of full time Sales, Service & Retention reps; however, faced with the economic reality that many arts organizations face, they needed something more cost effective, and turnkey. Cosmos’ solution would allow the HPO to scale up its sales/service/retention resources at strategic points throughout the year to minimize staffing costs, while simultaneously maximizing results.

The HPO also needed to ensure that an outsourced company would be able to fit in and coordinate efforts with their existing marketing initiatives. This was achieved through maintaining open lines of communication, and training to the Cosmos staff representing the HPO name.

In order to meet these challenges, Cosmos was able to dedicate resources to provide a direct touch with Renewal Subscriptions, Lapsed Subscriptions, and Single ticket buyers. The direct touches were facilitated through outreach by phone and email, while also being coordinated around the HPO’s other marketing initiatives such as direct mail, and email marketing.

Cosmos’ executives focused their efforts on taking the time to listen to feedback from the fans they were speaking with so that they could make educated recommendations on the best ticket option for them.

Following the conclusion of each campaign, the Cosmos team would compile a summary report, and present it to the HPO executive. This report included relevant productivity and sales statistics, as well as qualitative feedback from fans, and suggestions to implement for future seasons.

The Results

Ticket Sales
– Over the course of 5 years working together, Cosmos has averaged approximately $100,000 in new, retained and re-acquired ticket revenue per year.
– Cosmos has provided consultation on new benefits for subscription holders, leading to increased loyalty.
– Cosmos has provided consultation on implementing “Exploding deadlines” as a technique for encouraging urgency from fans to purchase/renew.

Customer Service
– Cosmos executives have consistently received positive feedback from fans, appreciating the HPO’s efforts to reach out personally for feedback.
– Very few complaints from fans about receiving phone calls.

Testimonial

“The team provided excellent service, helping us reach out effectively to our HPO family, and provided valuable information and guidance on moving forward with our marketing plans. As we move forward, it’s been helpful having the Cosmos team assist us with strategic direction given their insight into our audience base.”

Carol Kehoe
Executive Director
Philharmonic Orchestra