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An interesting ticketing Idea

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Van, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    So here is a link;
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/theater/07ishe.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=arts&adxnnlx=1191783690-yOjh4+GuxlTB6lTL3Y4fnQ&oref=slogin

    This is to an article in todays New York Times. A brief overview of the article, greatly distilled I might add, would be this.
    If you discount tickets more people will come to your theatre."
    This IS a fascinating article though, I've forwarded it to some folks here at ART, and I look forward to hearing back from them. The article deals with an issue that has bothered me for a long time, Cost go up, ticket prices go up, to the point that theatre becomes more exclusive to the "upper crust" as it were. This article shows that, yes there is interest in theatre, amoung the masses, if it's priced right. When you think about it, it's cheaper to go to a movie and get the biggest soda you've ever seen, along with enough popcorn to choke a horse, and a box of jujubees, than it is to even buy tickets at most theatres now days.
     
  2. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, the issue of aging audiences and increasing ticket prices is current here as well. Even among small producers only barely above amatuer like me. If drop my price by half will I double my sales. That is what I would need to do. I am thinking of trying this with selected performances of my next show and I will see what happens.
     
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Yes, it's an odd way of looking at things. Seriously though, when, in the last 15 years have you ever looked out the booth window during an intermission and not seen a "Sea of Blue". That question doesn't apply to you folks doing highschool shows, but it is a serious issue for those of us in the "Pro" world. I find the demographic stifling at times as well. Here at ART we are known for doing "edgy" theatre. It is often difficult to do when your average audience member is over 55 and they really want to see musicals and comedy. Sure, "Here ya go Ma'am. How about some Tracy Letts, David Rabe, David Mammet and we're doing Assassins... Ma'am, Ma'am..... Somebody call an Ambulance..."
    We are lucky, though, we have a pretty "hip" older crowd. They don't complain too much, thoughI thought several would have heart attacks during "Take Me out." I'm really going to be interested in seeing what happens around here, after the next board meeting, We might be slashing prices....... Stay Tuned.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    First off it's an interesting economic principle that doesn't make the most sense at first. But the reality is, you make no money from empty seats. The costs of production are already paid, over and done. Your job is to make as much money as possible. So sticking to a strict pricing policy makes no sense. If you can find a way to sell out no matter how little you make it's more than you make from an empty seat.

    Some of the interesting things around here that I've seen:

    -Tickets $10 to any show for anyone under 25

    -Many of the theaters in town turn their empty seats over to a vendor that sells tickets for half price day of show only. There are two places you can go to and get all kinds of great tickets for half price.

    -Season ticket packages for those under 30 that feature everyone going to specific performances so it's a younger audience. They then do special events before and after the show. The Symphony has what they call the Wolf Gang for 20's and 30's. They do all sorts of special events.

    -The Symphony also picks one or two performances a year and designs it to appeal to younger audiences. I just went to "Science Fiction" night with George Takei as the special narrator. It was fun to go hear classical music that my generation grew up listening too... Star Wars, Close Encounters, ET, Superman. It was great.

    -A community theater in the area has a very stuffy older audience base (surprise). They've taken up doing these alternative shows that are young, hip, and edgy. They are controversial, full of profanity, and all the nasty stuff that would horrify their normal audience but appeals to a young crowd. They only have one stage so they do these shows on the apron with the curtain closed in between mainstage shows. While the alternative show is going on out front, they are building the set for their next main stage show. No not actually at the same time... but in the same two week time period that the theater would normally sit empty. This means they are actually generating money at a time that the theater would usually be dark. Hopefully they are expanding their audience for the main stage season as well.

    -One theater reserves a midweek performance of every run for "Pay what you can night". You can buy a ticket for $1.

    -There are coupons everywhere for many theaters.
     
  5. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    My ART < Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland, Oregon.> Did it two years ago. Great show! but it's not exactly "The Sound of Music" which is what most older folks want,
     
  6. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    I glanced through the article when I saw it and there seems to be a “Mr. Obvious” quality to it: it seems to me that its intuitive that if you lower prices you will sell more tickets (whether you are operating at a loss or not is a separate issue).

    I think that for a given show, there is a fraction of the audience that really wants to see it regardless of price and they don’t to get frozen out, so they will pay full price. Now, what happens to the rest of the tickets? There is another fraction of people who will take a chance and just purchase them on the day of the show, or just wait for a discounted ticket, like NYC’s TKTS. And there’s another potential fraction of the audience that for what ever reason (economic or otherwise) just won’t pay full price.

    As someone mentioned, an empty seat isn’t making any revenue.

    Any discount will help, but I think there is a threshold where it becomes meaningful to a buyer, and varies from place to place. (Also varies from person to person, but with a large population, that probably doesn’t matter and “averages out” in the end.) For example, cutting prices in half may not mean much if the price is still, say 3 times a movie ticket.


    [On the other hand, I’ve seen the promoters/venue shoot themselves in the foot. When Spamalot came through here last year, there was a rush for tickets (perhaps generated by the memory of the rush for Wicked which sold out in a day). I tried to get mid-priced tickets (middle of the mezzanine), but they were not available, so we ended up getting the cheapest seats, up and off to the side of the mezzanine. When we got to the show, there was a massive block of empty seats in the middle! As far as I can tell, they held those back for package deals, group sales, etc that never materialized. Most of us moved down to them at intermission.]


    Joe
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Good thread, this one. Broadway Shows, and open-run Shows in other cities, live and die by their Advance Sales, even though only the House profits from the interest earned on the advance money. I was surprised when I moved here 16 years ago that Vegas didn't work that way. All tickets were sold day-of or day-before the performance. Most older rooms didn't even use tickets--the patron just made an unpaid reservation, lined up one hour prior to curtain, and "greased" the maitre'd (House Manager) to get the best un-occupied seats. They would be shown to their seats by a Captain (usher) who also expected a "toke." Dinner shows were pretty much gone in Las Vegas by 1993. During the last 15-20 minutes of the show, the waiters would come by with the bill and their flashlight, and expect settlement then and there, during the show!

    Since then, just about every venue in town has converted to standard theatre seating, eliminating the long tables and VIP booths, and gone to advance purchase reserved seats. I suspect some shows have built quite an advance. Even the shows without an advance are not in much danger of closing, as an investment has been made of $10-80 million to customize the venue. Plus production costs of $10-100 million. Las Vegas is not like Broadway, where a producer can put on a small play with a measly $5M capitalization.

    About three years ago, two competing "TKTS"-type (half-price, day of show) outlets sprung up here, and speculation arose how well they would do, and whether Hotels/Productions would be willing to discount their unsold seats.

    I have no answers, as the results are still unclear. As I used to explain to callers when I worked as a phone operator in Chicago and was asked why my show wasn't available at a discount: "Theaters only make tickets available to Hottix when they can't sell them all at full price." Thus the shows that are available at Tix-4-Tonite are not the most desirable shows. Not that they're bad shows, just that they don't sell out in advance the way that say O, LOVE, A New Day, do.

    Everyone agrees an unfilled seat is unfulfilled income potential. No one agrees on what to do about it. Sorry if I've talked a lot and said nothing. While proof-reading my post, that's the impression I've given myself. Can I BE any more ego-centric?
     
  8. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    I had a meeting last night with my Marketing and money people. My Adelaide Festival Fringe show next year will be all one price $15.00AUD which is about the normal concession price for Fringe Shows. In addition on two nights (the Tuesday nights of the run) we will do "Pay What You Can" for holders of Student Cards and Unemployed people.
    This show by the way runs only 40 odd minutes in a shared venue. We actually get the venue for about an hour a night for turn around and seating the audience and performing. The overheads aren't high as there is no set and only one technician and two actors. It's a profit share.
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I had an interesting discussion with some folks at the theatre here today. One thing we discussed, about this article, is something I'm guilty of, I kind of passed over a couple of statements made in this article where they referred to the fact that the theatre in question, Signature, acquired a "sponsor" to help offset the cost of the tickets so they could make them availible at the lower prices. Even with this fact I still believe that some type of program which offers these "reduced price" tickets to the masses, is a great audience builder. The fact that they were able to change the mean demographic of thier theatre is amazing. Here in the States, it always seems that the "crowd" that goes to see theatre is extremely limited. This little expirement proves that the appeal of Theatre is alive and well, and can be fostered. I've often worried about the state of Theatre, wondered if it was a dying Art, nobody but Old folks in the seats, and funding drying up everywhere, but again the fact that these folks were able to invigorate an audience of theatre-goers, whose average age was -35 is really heartening.
     
  10. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    a little off topic, but IMO a great way to get younger people in to see a show and keeping old folks out with out being blatant about it, do a midnight performance once or twice during the run.
     
  11. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    I don't think we want to keep "the old folks" out. After all I am in fact one of "the old folks". What I assume we all want to do is bring "the young folks" in and add them to "the old folks".
    By the way I have no sponsor for my reduced ticket prices at my Fringe show. I am justing hoping like heck I will be one of the cheaper tickets and people will come.
     
  12. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Just a few thoughts about the demographics (and I am shooting from the hip here):

    Did the so-called “old folks” go to shows as “young folks”?

    And not withstanding the answer to that question, is the “old folks” audience replenishing itself naturally as the “young folks” age? (If this is also the case, then this demographic segment will get smaller as the boom goes through.)

    Joe
     
  13. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    A good point. Current "old folks" audience in this country remember a time when they didn't have TV sets. I can certainly remember my father bringing home our first set in time to watch the first ever episode of Doctor Who.
    Accordingly people went out more and got into the habit.
    The younger generation don't see that theatre has any relevance to them (sweeping generalisation) and therefore go to films or clubs etc. The current enormous popularity of musical theatre in this country seems to be bringing people back into theatres and some of them are statring to go to plays as well.
    This is all a sort of formless hunch really, although I have been trying hard to talk to people in audiences for the last year or so.
     
  14. Grommet

    Grommet Member

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    I'm 21.

    When i'm not working the shows i see usually have some one i know in it.

    But i have a feeling that people my age are more into events with alcohol involved (unfortunately).

    I think the trick is to get the younger folks before they have kids and after they have settled a bit with having a job and being out of school
     
  15. bigtim

    bigtim Member

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    While I'm not in the pro world (at least, not yet) it sounds like you've been to some of our meetings! The average age of the audience at the 2 community theater's I'm involved with is probably 65 and VERY conservative. As an example, 2 years ago when we did Noises Off, the director (I think) put in the local paper that the show might not be appropriate for children under 12. Noises Off? Really? Guess what? Very low turnout for the best show in years. I'm hoping to have a black box style setting at the one theater I have control over in the future and do more edgy stuff. It will certainly be a labor of love because my audience thinks they've really done something by paying $10 and (almost) showing up on time. I'm not bitter, just at a loss on how to provide quality theater at budget prices. One of my theaters is already selling season tickets (4 shows including a musical) for $20 and the musical is the only one averaging more than a hundred a show. As always, I'll be interested in what everyone here has to say as to possible solutions.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2010
  16. shiben

    shiben Well-Known Member

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    Hey now. I went to a great show over the weekend where people busted out bottles of wine to eat dinner on the stage. There was plenty of booze involved (including one group who finished with a polenka shot (spelling on that please?), but it was still great theatre and a great time. Also, a lot of the shows that I go to with smaller audiences/venues tend to have times at the end where you can drink with the artists. I think that people my age (Im 21) just tend not to think that its an interesting experience unless its wild and uncontrolled. Thus why our rather edgy 24 hour theatre show fills the house, when we cant fill the house with combined ticket sales for a more traditional play (still rather edgy tho, just less naughty language and jokes).
     

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