Getting Broadway a part of Black Friday.

Last Friday, and all weekend, millions of people just like you were online and in line, looking for the best deals on Wiis, Kinects, iPads and more.

Retailers across many industries will see huge spikes in sales thanks to the beginning of the shopping season.

So why don’t Broadway ticket sales spike as well?

Shouldn’t we see an enormous bump in advance ticket sales?  Broadway is such a unique, rare, and emotional experience . . . doesn’t it make the perfect gift?

Yes, of course it does.  Which is why I believe an industry-wide co-op promoting Broadway as a holiday gift could be one of the most significant untapped sales initiatives we have left.

Sure, we’re doing some stuff now, but not enough, and not together.

If you compared the homepage of on Friday with the homepage of, you would have seen quite a difference. TM had one banner ad promoting ticket gift ideas), while Amazon and all the other big retailers were awash with calls to action for holiday gifts on every page.

Of course, a Broadway ticket is never going to be as sought-after as a Wii for a number of reasons (Broadway is limited only to people who can get here, etc.), but there are a bunch more things we can do to spur sales.

Here are three:

  • Why not “No Service Fees on Black Friday”?  And if Telecharge or Ticketmaster didn’t want to offer up the fees, I’m sure 90% of the shows would pay the service fees on full price ticket sales only (remember gifts won’t be used until January, which is when we need these sales more than ever).
  • What about an industry direct mail “catalog” that drops pre-Thanksgiving?  It would be like the Seasons of Savings program we do to spur January sales.  (It’s ironic, isn’t it?  We advertise a big sale for a period of time when people are not in the mood to see shows, yet we don’t do anything during the time when we know people are spending money.)
  • What about show gift cards.  I’m not talking about Telecharge gift cards, or gift cards, I’m talking about show cards.  Like the ones we made for Miss Abigail’s Guide.  Cards from ticketing companies, or department stores, aren’t as personal as a card from a specific brand.  It’s a few pennies to order cards that can be customized with your show logo on them.  Yes, you’ll need to figure out a redemption system, but what sounds more attractive to you as a gift-buyer and a gift-receiver: a Ticketmaster Gift Card or a Jersey Boys Gift Card?  With a bit more negotiation, perhaps we could get these gift cards sold at the checkout counters of other retailers, like Macy’s, etc.  “Would you like a Lion King gift card with that?”

Last year, 41.2 billion bucks were spent over the 4-day Black Friday weekend.

There have got to be ways to get our hands on more of that moolah.  And since the best presents are the things that people may not have purchased for themselves, increasing the opportunities to give tickets as holiday gifts could be one of the best chances we have at finding new audiences.

  • Gil says:

    I’ve always found that there isn’t a Broadway Bucks option that allows for all Broadway Shows. I want to get friends a $x.00 gift card to any broadway show of their choosing, but the closest I get is TKTS or Telecharge, neither of which are all-shows-inclusive.

  • Leigh says:

    Tickets to Broadway shows that I can’t afford by my starving-artist self are ALWAYS at the top of my holiday wish list, yet, strangely, rarely received. I think out-of-town friends and family are a little intimidated by the idea of buying a ticket for a show they know nothing about in a place they know nothing about. A lot could be gained by making the gift-giving of Broadway shows a more accessible concept. Both for the theater world, and for me personally 🙂

  • RLewis says:

    Ken, Ken, Ken… Almost 70% of Bway audiences are tourists. How do you buy a gift for someone if you don’t know when, or even if, that person will be in nyc? I can give someone a Wii that they can use in any state in the union, but a Bway gift can only be redeemed in one city.
    It only hits 32% of the market, but how about a bring-new-yorkers-back-to-broadway campaign? Ok, not great, but better than anything you got here.

  • Tom says:

    I got my Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson gift card but now it’s closing. Well that’s a sucky present. But seriously I did receive tickets to Mary Poppins one year but had to wait 3 months till the date. Kind of like getting a picture of the gift and being told it hasn’t arrived yet. Now maybe instead of the show you could get a Shubert card or a Davenport card so this way, like the movie theaters it’s good for any show in that group.

  • Rich Mc says:

    New Channel Needed: Why isn’t there a consumer option to bypass Telecharge/Ticketmaster entirely, i.e., encourage Broadway theaters to develop relationships with & market directly on Amazon? Their service & fulfillment are great – no onerous handling fees and free shipping over $25. They possess the critical mass both to implement the needed technology, as well as thrive on thinner margins. Ken’s gift card idea would fit like a glove! Cross-selling, promotion and discounting opportunities become abundant. This could really change the game!

  • Cat says:

    Broadway Bucks! My sentiments exactly. I think the closest thing to it now is to get someone an American Express (or other likeminded credit card) gift card and tell them they HAVE to spend it on theatre. But it would be so much nicer to have something that was more tailored to our industry. I like the idea of cards ‘stamped’ with logos, but it does always limit the arena – why only Broadway… Hey, if I’m gonna dream, gonna do it big!

  • Diana says:

    Ken, I couldn’t agree more. I remember one Christmas as a young teen, my sister made a “gift certificate” for me to see AIDA, and that was much more exciting than opening up an envelope with tickets. I would love to open up a show-branded gift card on Christmas morning and log onto my new iPad (wishful thinking) and pick a date to go. To be honest, I’d even pay a little service fee of $5 or so to get that card in a little box, all ready for the holidays.
    Imagine the type of packaging that can be done for a show’s CD and gift card …

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