scooby

That’ll be $9 if you want to use the restroom.

Have you flown recently?

The beleaguered airline industry has been very busy over the past few years, drumming up all sorts of ways to stabilize their fragile business by charging for so many things that used to be free.  There’s a fee for checking a bag, a fee for blankets, for food, seats with extra leg room, and my favorite fee from American Airlines who will let you board first for only an additional $9.

On the one hand, I have to credit the ‘lines for their creativity.  They’ve come up with a ton of ideas to try and plug their financial leakage.  Look, they lost 4.7 billion in 2009 and have been struggling to come back ever since.  If you were running an airline, you might want to see what else you could charge for too, right?

On the other hand, I can’t help but get more and more frustrated every time I see a price tag next to something I used to get for free.  Now matter how much I understand it rationally, it just bugs me, as I’m sure it bugs you.

And honestly?  Because of all those fees and loss of complimentary services, if I didn’t have to travel by plane, I wouldn’t.  But until they invent one of those damn teleporter machines, I’m stuck with it.

You’ve heard me say before how closely related the theater industry is to the airline industry, right?

The same “creativity” is starting to occur in our industry as well.  Case in point?  Most theaters are now charging for “aisle seats” (or what the airlines would call, “seats with more legroom”).  Or my favorite, Ticketmaster’s “TicketsNow” fee that charges the customer for being able to print their tickets at home (insert that strange Scooby Doo sound “huh” sound here.)

In a way, the Producer part of me is proud of us, for trying to find additional revenue streams that help maximize our income, since it is so economically challenging to keep a show running these days, never mind actually making money.  (Important to note – Producers don’t share in the ticketing fee I mentioned above – at least the airlines get to keep the profits from their fees to help write down other losses.)

But at the same time, I can’t help but be a little frightened by our nickel/diming of the audience (especially when we’re not even sharing in those nickels and dimes).

Because, you see, while we may be a lot like the airline industry, there is one specific characteristic that sets us waaaaay apart.

As I mentioned above . . . consumers have to travel by plane.  They have no other choice..

Consumers don’t have to see a show.

And they’ve got a ton of other choices.

Many of them free.

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