Just how long should you be on sale anyway?

When you’re doing an open-ended run, you have a decision to make the day you go on sale. . . how far out do you want to be on sale?

Conventional wisdom has always said to keep this window a bit smaller in an effort to force people to buy in the short term, and create some scarcity by making your ticket a little harder to get.

But I’ve never been a big conventional thinker.

I do believe in the theory of limited supply increasing demand, but I’m also a big believer in this theory:  when someone wants to give you money, you take it.

If a customer is willing to buy tickets for a performance of your show that is a year out, do you really think that you can convince him/her to go to a show that’s two months from now?  No.  Since 65% of our tickets are sold to out-of-towners, a lot of advance ticket buyers are vacationers. They’re not going to change their vacation plans because you don’t have tickets on sale.  They are just going to assume that you are closing, and buy something else.

And since it is getting harder and harder to get people to buy in advance, why wouldn’t you take a sale for a show that’s nine months out?  (If this were a traditional business, it would be even more advantageous to take the cash well in advance, because you’d be sitting on the funds yourself – but in the theater, the ticketing agency sits on the monies until the performance has happened).

Oh, and as soon as someone buys tickets, there is a little word-of-mouth seed that gets planted within that buyer . . . as he or she will want others to do what he or she has done.

What do other perishable inventory industries do?  Restaurants will take reservations a year in advance, and a quick search on Expedia scored me a flight to LAX next July.

In fact, that flight next year was a lot cheaper than the flight to LA I booked today for next week.

Hmmmmm . . .

And, in the worst of all possible cases, you announce closing prematurely, leaving some buyers with tickets for shows that won’t exist.  You can always try to exchange them to earlier shows, or you have to refund them.  Big deal.  Worth the risk if you get more advance sales.

Because it’s a heck of a lot easier to give money back then it is to get money in the first place.


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  • Margie says:

    Hey, Ken,
    You have a great idea there. Do you know what almost ALL the travel sites are doing? Having sales (check out jetsetter.com and if you can’t get on, use my name and if you still can’t get on,email me). They have SALES of high-end resorts which are only good for a limited amount of time but might be 20% off– you need to buy them a couple of months in advance, but hey, everybody likes to save a buck. You could have a broadway site where people would log on, see which play was on sale and when, and buy a ticket in advance to that show for 10-20% off.

  • Margie says:

    Oops — I mean passportnewsletter,com — not jetsetter.

  • randy says:

    I am a huge fan of musicals and Broadway. Godspell is a favorite of mine and I have long awaited a new production of it on the Great White Way!
    However, this ongoing “3579 days til we get to broadway” has made me feel like “oh my god, is that show STILL running?” like… isn’t it over yet? It has been going on forever and yet I don’t know anyone who has seen it. Did it get reviewed yet or is it like Spiderman?

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