Theater things that don’t make sense: Vol. 7

What do these things have in common?

Airplane tickets, train tickets, movie tickets, metrocards, car rentals, dvd player rentals, iPods, candy, and good ol’ fashioned Coca-Cola?

Give up?

These are all things that can be purchased through self-serve machines.

Where are theater tickets?  Oh, well, they’re back in 1985.

ATMs (Automated ticket machines), where you can buy a ticket, print your ticket, upgrade your ticket, buy a CD, enter contests, and more, should be in every theater lobby and every tourist center in the city.

I could go into a long explanation of why this makes sense . . . but you all know it makes sense.  Everyone knows it makes sense. Even the people that fight against it know that it makes sense deep down in places they don’t admit exist.

They save money. They provide a better consumer experience.  And they’ll be here eventually.  So why wait?

Why can’t the theater industry actually be first at something . . . just once.

  • Mike Davis says:

    My girlfriend and I were just talking about this last night at the theater, her excuse was “Well that’s just not the way it’s done”, my question was still “WHY”! Not only this, but any other event you go to, you purchase tickets for specific seats, guaranteed you’ll be in Row- X, Seat-Y for one show or even an entire season (if applicable), but not theater. At a theater you’re only guaranteed to be seated in a “Section” or “Area”. For the kind of money I have to pay for a theater ticket, I want a guaranteed seat, if movie theaters, amphitheaters, and sport coliseums can do it, so too can a playhouse.

  • Betzy says:

    I agree, as I almost always do with you, Ken, but perhaps it has something to do with the box office union?

  • Jean says:

    I bought theater tickets in Barcelona from a machine in the lobby of the theater. I was seeing one show and decided on the spur of the moment, to buy for another show.

  • Kay says:

    its also because there is a cache about the theatre being an old art form and having a certain “elegance” about it, despite people wearing jeans there. I’m not saying that the cache is realistic, but I think thats one of the reasons its always the last to change instead of being at the forefront

  • Vance says:

    Stratford Fest has computer terminals where you can at least pick up tickets, diverting the lines away from the box office, and considering I just went to another show elsewhere that was 25 min late because the box office couldn’t deal with all the people showing up last minute needing to pick up tickets, you would think all theatres would just install them. (And if the box office is free, maybe people can walk up and buy tickets easier).
    I also love theatres where you can actually see what seats are remaining and pick exactly what seats you want instead of being spat out whatever seats they deem are next “best” that they give you.

  • Rich McMahon says:

    Respectfully disagree with the premise. If I’m in my ‘throw caution (ticket cost) to the wind’ mode I still want absolute contol over my seating. If I’m in my more typical ‘go for a discount’ mode, self-serve machines appear from the onset lacking, relitive to other sources: TDF, etc. However, if this could be adjusted to ‘real time’ (i.e., just prior to performance) specific seat availability with appropriate price discounting, I’m a buyer.

  • Tom Atkins says:

    I heard about a great idea (maybe it was on this blog??) where big concert posters outdoors had chips in one of the corners which passers-by could connect with via Bluetooth on their mobile phones to purchase tickets right away, straight after seeing the poster and making the “I want to go to that” decision. Don’t think I’ve heard that happen with a theatre poster yet.

  • Katherine says:

    That makes me worried about my job. I don’t want to be replaced by an ATM, but I wouldn’t mind lighter traffic at the Box Office. I think people should use the internet more for buying tickets. But people have problems buying them in advance.

  • Jameson says:

    Define ‘better consumer experience”. I, for one, have a ‘better consumer experience’ when I’m sold a ticket by a real human being, rather than a machine. Not to mention one that will, undoubtedly, attempt to do just that – offer to sell me various wares, and enter me into contests. If I want those things, I want those choices decided on my own terms.

  • forseveFsot says:


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