Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Essay

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Management Questions

There are a number of different management questions that the VSO is trying to solve.  The Symphony has experienced a decline in attendance, notable in the early part of the 1986 season.  There has been a decline in revenue and there is concern about this for the remainder of the season and for the next season as well. There has been some short-term sluggishness, which is not surprising because of Expo '86, which would have drained discretionary income for many Vancouverites.  The decrease in subscriptions has been an ongoing issue even before Expo, however.  The present challenge for management is to understand the nature of the ticket decline, both the short run decline and the long run decline.      Understanding whether the pricing, the product or other factors were contributing to the decline in sales will be essential for management to develop a strategy that can counteract these forces.

The survey covers a variety of subjects, with the objective of gathering information that management can use to create a new marketing strategy for the coming season, and possibly to bring about changes that will stem the losses for the existing season as well.  The survey begins with some basic information – what it fails to do is to provide comparable data.  In other words, it is important to understand the change in buying behavior but the questions only ask about recent behavior, so it is impossible to identify changes in behavior or trends.   

The questions then provide some insight into the demand drivers for symphony performances.  For example, what types of music people seek out is valuable information, because some of the change in demand might well be product-driven.  The survey also highlights the perception that consumers have of the VSO.  While it is the only orchestra in town, there are other entertainment options and it is important for the VSO to understand if there is perhaps a perception issue that is causing some of the sluggish demand – the product might not be good enough to attract the audience.

Another element of the survey is the price point data.  This is very important for management, because pricing strategy is a key element of spurring demand.  In particular, if consumers are spent out after Expo, the VSO might need to adjust prices downwards in order to attract consumers back to the symphony. The timing of the shows is another factor and the survey asks about that as well.  Overall, the survey provides a lot of the information that management needs to make changes to times, shows, quality, marketing efforts and pricing.  There is not a lot of information to provide insight into demographics – just postal codes and ages and little with respect to psychographics or that might lead to a better understanding of the consumer, better partnerships or anything like that.  While the effort seeks to reverse a downward trend in ticket sales, there is not much information provided to explain the downward trend in the first place – and the survey did not target former customers specifically.


There are a few different issues that were specifically identified. Pricing is definitely a concern for the consumers, with only 13% rating the pricing as "excellent" and 41% finding it "fair" or "poor".  Pricing is something that the VSO can address.  There is considerable information in the pairing perceptions question that indicates lower prices are preferred, but that there is desire to see international performers.  It is decided to offer more low-priced tickets, for example on international….....

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