Commentary: Broadway discounts gone wild

Damian Bazadona,, February 22, 2011

Who pays full price for Broadway tickets anymore?  I asked our friends at Telecharge [about 2010 sales].  43% of "new to file" NY metro area musical buyers used a discount code.  29% of "new to file" out of town musical buyers used a discount code.  Remember this doesn't include TKTS, groups, rush or any other "non coded" discount outlets.  How about plays?  40% of "new to file" metro area playgoers used a discount code.  29% of "new to file" out of town playgoers used a discount code.  To me, this data underscores the need for a discussion on a few key questions.

Should we be using [discounts] as the primary driver in reaching new audiences ? [Discounts] end up going to a much wider audience beyond your control... to those that are probably more than willing to pay full price if the discount wasn't available.  Aside from the revenue lost on that particular transaction, if you're new to Broadway and are presented with a discount code, you are then officially trained on how to NOT buy a full price ticket. 

Should our promotion be the same for those that attend regularly versus someone new? We are not distinguishing price to value between the two audiences.  What does that say for the way we value customer loyalty?

How much higher can top price go in order to subsidize deepening discount offers? You can now get a better discount online than waiting in line at the TKTS booth.  That's a radical shift from where we were five years ago. 

Are the "new to file" customers truly building blocks for the future? Are we inviting new audiences to Broadway through these price promotions that really need a discount offer in order for them to actually make it to Broadway (i.e., college students, young professionals, etc.)? 


Commentary: West End pricing a "weird free-market budget airline nightmare"

Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph, February 21, 2011

Some clever people may be making fortunes out of the West End, but those in charge have a lot to worry about -- not least soaring running costs, the difficulty of keeping straight plays afloat, and the prospect of more theatres given over to juke-box musicals that lower the West End's reputation.  And from the punter's side of the fence, things don't look nearly so rosy. Most theatres in the Shaftesbury Avenue and Covent Garden areas smugly continue to offer a rotten visitor experience, with cramped foyers, antediluvian seating, poor sightlines, dreadful bars and rip-off programmes.  Even worse, the once relatively simple separation of standard box-office, agencies charging a 10% mark-up, and on-the-day half-price booth has been replaced by a weird free-market budget-airline nightmare, in which tickets soar in cost one day and plummet the next, with the rack rate contradicted by two-for-one offers and last-minute internet reductions as well as the apparently unstoppable scam of unlicensed touts fleecing tourists in the Leicester Square area. While this cram-'em-in-and-fleece-'em philosophy still prevails, I suggest the powers behind the West End should shout their success less loudly and give more long-term thought to serving their customers instead of maximising their short-term profits.


Commentary: "Ticket discounts should be abolished."

Jeannette O'Connor, commenting on Diane Ragsdale's Jumper blog post, February 22, 2011

I'd like to offer a comment about ticket discounts: who gets them and who deserves them, and why they are offered, anyway.

First, young adults, particularly college students, who don't work. Someone once presumed they can be converted into lifetime audience members through the offer of a 20% discount. Because we don't know what else to do to stimulate audience growth, we ignore the fact people this age think nothing of forking over (mom and dad's) $200 for a sporting event [or] rock concert, so we give away 20% of our student admission income needlessly.

Post-grads and 30-somethings [who] are broke because their money is going into paying for a house and raising small children. You don't see them spending $200 on rock concerts, probably because they're broke and exhausted. If you offer them a discount, are they more likely to attend a classical concert? Maybe, if you throw in babysitting, dinner and a quiet hotel suite for the night. Is a discount likely to convert them into lifelong audience members? They won't even remember it, come time to write their holiday newsletter.

What about those high-earning 40-year-olds? They are still paying the mortgage, and now they are paying for Dick and Jane to attend college and participate in all sorts of after-school activities. But occasionally they do manage to attend a concert. They get no discount, which means they are likely to view concert going as a special occasion activity, not something they can afford to do regularly which defies the concept of audience loyalty.

High-earning 50-somethings [who] are stretched between paying for their kids' college (or bail and rehab), their own continuing education and health costs, paying off their mortgages, and assisting their parents who have become a new focus. Ticket discounts are wasted on them because if they do attend, they're probably going to sleep through it anyway.

Now we arrive at retirees on fixed incomes. Usually they are poor or wealthy. Anyone in the middle is so worried about making their savings last they don't often spend money on ephemeral experiences like live entertainment. So, of this group, who attends classical concerts, opera, the ballet? Wealthy ones. And they get the discount!

As an industry, we should probably wake up and recognize that ticket discounts are costly and don't build long-term audiences to any material extent. They should be abolished and we should be unapologetic about that.  If students become interested in the arts, they should be recruited as volunteers and interns, which would give them a visceral experience and establish a connection that will last a lifetime.


Commentary: "Good marketing never mentions price."

Simon Sinek, Re:Focus blog, February 15, 2011

Marketing, per se, is neither good nor bad. It is simply the way a company speaks to us. People use their mouths, companies use marketing. It is objective. However, how companies choose to speak to us is another story. And in that case how they market to us is mostly bad.

Good marketing offers us a view of the world.  Bad marketing offers you a product to buy.

Good marketing drives loyalty.  Bad marketing drives transactions.

Good marketing promotes values.  Bad marketing values promotions.

Good marketing never mentions price.  Bad marketing always mentions price.


Commentary: "Price is only an issue when value is a mystery."

J.W. Dicks & Nick Nanton, Fast Company blog, March 23, 2010

"Everyone in business is always looking for the magic pill. That "one thing" you can do in your business that will change everything overnight.  We're sorry to say that a magic pill doesn't really exist, however there is one thing that can have the same effect. One thing you can do today that can change your business tomorrow... create more value for others.  Price is only an issue when value is a mystery."

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