Eventbrite | Customer Story

How Lightning in a Bottle Grew Ticket Sales 65% in Two Years

Lightning in a Bottle is a unique festival with an equally unusual origin story. Brothers Josh, Dede, and Jesse Flemming, along with childhood friend Jesse “Y2” Shannon, began Lightning in a Bottle as a birthday party back in 2001. By 2006, the one-night event had grown in size and reputation, and the brothers decided to bring their vision to life with an official, ticketed festival.

Their first year, they drew 1,200 people to the 3-day festival — and by 2012, they had grown to 15,000 fans. By prioritizing art, sustainability, and community, the close-knit team sparked a broader shift towards “transformational festivals.” But the festival’s success wasn’t without challenges. By 2014, the team behind Lightning in a Bottle was ready for a change.

The problem? Between 2012 and 2014, growth had stalled. Despite their best efforts, ticket sales were flat for the third year in a row. And the team had a serious roadblock to increasing ticket sales: their unstable ticketing system.

In 2014, the crossed fingers weren’t enough. Within minutes of going on sale, the system crashed and they had shut down their site. By the time they got sales back up 24 hours later, the damage had been done.

“Even though we were back on sale the next day, we saw a 25-33% drop in traffic and sales compared to previous onsales,” says Jesse “Y2” Shannon. It was the final straw.

The next year, the team spent several months evaluating ticketing partners they could rely on — and use to jumpstart growth. They made their choice based on three main goals:

> Make it as reliable and easy as possible for fans to buy tickets

> Grow their festival with intuitive marketing tools and reporting

> Save time with a mobile app and all-in-one festival management system

The payoff of switching to Eventbrite

>$260k

sales driven by Eventbrite promotional tools in 2016

5k

jump in tickets sold in the first year on Eventbrite

65%

increase in ticket sales in two years

50%

increase in conversion on the ticketing page

2 hours

saved each week on reporting

How they made the switch

Switching ticketing technologies doesn’t have to be overwhelming. When they made their choice, the team had already been using Eventbrite for their other 400-person club shows in LA, so they knew the technology was up to the challenge.

“Eventbrite was the most user-friendly option out there,” Dede Flemming says. “We needed a technology we could trust, and they’re an established tech company in the ticketing space.”

Making it easy for fans to buy tickets on a stable ticketing platform

Just two years later, the story is drastically different. “Now, I never worry about our ticketing site,” Y2 says. “We can focus on more important things.”

Not only has their ticketing site never failed during their onsales, but the entire page is built to convert more viewers to buyers. Every step of the purchase is mobile-optimized, so Lightning in a Bottle is seeing more and more ticket sales come through on mobile devices. The festival sells 18 tiers of tickets, and releases different ticket tiers throughout the sales cycle. Because the platform is dynamic, these tiers appear and disappear seamlessly.

“Eventbrite pays attention to the landing page, the purchase page, and keeping our conversion rate really high,” Dede says. “That has a big effect on our efforts, particularly since we’ve seen such a big shift to mobile.”

After switching to Eventbrite, the festival’s conversion rate (the number of ticketing page viewers who made a purchase) jumped by 50%. That means 50% more fans who view their page are buying tickets, driving more sales without any additional marketing spend.

Converting more of your existing traffic can have a huge impact on ROI. Imagine your ticketing page is viewed by 10,000 fans each week. The average ecommerce conversion rate is around 2%, so a 50% increase could result in 100 more ticket sales every single week — without any additional investment on your part.

Selling more tickets with intuitive marketing tools and reporting

“Before, all we did on our platform was sell tickets,” Dede says. “It was just a tool in our toolbox. We didn’t realize what was out there — that we could rely on a ticketing brand to help us sell tickets.”

“Since moving to Eventbrite, we’ve sold out the last two years. This year we sold out the week before gates opened, which we’d never done before. I was able to really efficiently use our small marketing budget. We rely on targeted marketing campaigns, so being able to measure results quickly is key — so we can see what drives sales, not just clicks.”

Jesse “Y2” Shannon

Now, Y2 takes advantage of a variety of features to more accurately plan campaigns and calculate exact ROI. Here are his favorite tools in his Eventbrite marketing suite, which drove more than $260k in sales for Lightning in a Bottle’s most recent festival:

> Access and promotional codes: By using access codes (which reveal ticket types only to in-the-know buyers) and promo codes (which discount certain ticket types), Y2 can drive excitement and urgency about sales. “A big part is rewarding fans who are most engaged, who care the most, who are saying good things about us,” Y2 says. “So we make special offers for them, like access to early bird presales with limited tickets. You can tell from the response that people really appreciate it.”

> Attendee payment plans: With payment plans, Lightning in a Bottle enables fans to pay for tickets in installments, instead of all at once. “Payment plans became a really valuable tool for us to drive traffic and create significant sales campaigns before the final push,” Y2 says. “Payment plans are a key part of the strategy to get ticket buyers to commit early in the campaign cycle.”

> Facebook tracking pixels and Google Analytics integration: To understand which of his ads are most effective, Y2 uses a tracking pixel — a bit of code that tracks visitors to his ticketing page. “With Eventbrite, we placed their full Facebook pixel on our conversion page, and use their Google Analytics tracking to measure campaign success and targeting,” Y2 says. “Before, we just had conversion tracking. We knew a sale had happened, but not the value of it — or which ticket it was. With so many different tickets available, the difference between selling a parking pass or multiple full-price passes is key. Now we can measure campaigns in that way and see money in and money out.”

Y2 uses these ROI calculations to adjust campaigns, messaging, and targeting on a weekly basis. He says the flexibility to generate different ticketing sales reports with different ways of looking at customer data has been incredibly helpful in this process.

“Looking at the geography report, we can see at a glance the cities and states where sales are happening, so we can target campaigns or turn them down,” Y2 says. “We do a national campaign early on, but as the event gets closer we see that radius of sales gets more local, so we reflect that in our campaigns.”

Because they can now measure and improve ROI, Y2 has been able to argue for a year-over-year marketing budget increase of 33%.

“We’ve been able to spend more confidently,” Y2 says. “Everyone’s fighting for budget, so with clear reports and goals showing how our marketing spend is benefiting the business, we’ve been able to get more budget. That’s had a huge impact on the number of tickets we’ve been able to sell.”

Saving time across the team by unifying their systems

“I’m on the Eventbrite Organizer app every day. It can break down sales by hour, day, week, or month — so I know exactly what’s going on at all times with our sales. If we send an email blast out, I can see the immediate reaction on the app.”

Dede Flemming

Before Eventbrite, keeping the whole team on the same page was a manual process. “I had to dig online on a computer to find anything — it was cumbersome,” Dede says.

In an effort to surface their progress, Y2 used to compile reports that took two hours each week to make and distribute to the team. Now, he doesn’t even have to do weekly reports anymore, because the entire team can check the Eventbrite Organizer app for real-time reporting. “Having the Organizer app means I don’t have to spend as much time keeping everyone up to speed,” Y2 says.

The mobile app and real-time reporting aren’t the only way the team has saved time. In their second year on Eventbrite, they adopted the in-house RFID technology as well. Now, they have a one-stop shop for ticketing, fulfillment, and RFID.

“When we used a different RFID and ticketing system, it was kind of a nightmare,” Dede says. “It’s not just phone calls dealing with vendors, it’s having to bring two systems together to have them work cohesively. Having an all-in-one situation, we don’t have to deal with that anymore. We save time, not having to be the middle man between multiple parties.”

“Lightning in a Bottle isn’t just a music event, it’s a lifestyle event, with yoga, workshops, music, and camping. Having a partner that tickets all sorts of events has helped us expand our audience and reach more event-goers.”

Dede Flemming

With the time they save, the team can focus on their true passion: pioneering a transformational festival experience.

Are you looking for creative ways to sell more tickets to your festival?

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