One Secret to Finding New Audiences, or What I Learned from Mohegan Sun.

Casinos have a lot on the ‘line’, which is why there is a lot to learn from everything they do.

I stumbled upon a simple little trick that I’ve started using for my shows already, and it has been so successful, I had to share it with you.

It’s simple . . . if you want to get a new audience to the theater, you may have to get that new audience to the theater.

The Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut needs people to come to its casino constantly.  And they do.  But to really fill their craps tables they know they need a bigger market than the natural adopters . . . they need people who may have always thought about going to a casino, but would never make the effort on their own.

So they have buses . . . for free . . . or with cash back incentives that are scheduled to pick people up from places like NYC and take them to the Indian lands of Connecticut for a little blackjack and maybe a little Jimmy Buffett.

I started thinking about all the people in my hometown and nearby that would love to see a Broadway show (especially if they knew me), but the thought of planning it, figuring it out, and getting over the fear of coming to the city, was just too much on their own.  New York and Broadway seem far away, even when you’re just a few hours by car.

So . . . knowing that these folks would never come to a show without a little catalyst, we decided to make it easy for them.

We created BroadwayRoadTrip.com, and on Saturday, February 4th, a bus full of people will depart Sturbridge, MA, come to see the Godspell matinee, get a talkback from me, and then return home that night.

The local papers have done stories on it (the hometown boy connection always helps), and this pretty small town is a buzzin’ about Broadway.

You know what I love about this simple casino-concept?  This bus will sell out . . . and on board will be 56 people who never would have seen Godspell had we not set it up for them.

And you know what else?  We will take a survey, but I bet over 90% of them will have never been to a Broadway show before.

My hope and my dream is that they enjoy their day with us so much, that when we ask them if they want to come see another show in a month or two that they don’t have a personal connection to (translation: that I’m not producing), they’ll fill up another bus again, and bingo, bongo, we’ve got brand new multi-musical buyers.

By the way, there are a few more spots left on this bus, so if you’re from Massachusetts and want to come to NYC for the day, see the show, and meet my Mom (who will be on board), click here.

Has this been successful so far?

Ahhh, yeah.  So much so that we’re doing another BroadwayRoadTrip from Washington DC on February 25th.

What’s so special about the DC area?   That’s where cast member, Nick Blaemire is from (Hometown boy angle again).   And if you know Nick, or have even seen the show, I’d bet money that the Nick Express Bus from DC is going to be one heck of a party.  Click here to get tickets for that trip.

We have to remember in this business that if we want new audiences, sometimes we gotta make it real easy for them to get here.

 

(Got a comment? I love ’em, so comment below! Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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Comments
  • Jon Kakaley says:

    Brilliant idea. I wonder if it would be cost effective to do this for off-Broadway…

  • Rob Ready says:

    @Jon:
    It’s cost effective if you can get the bus to break even. In SF, we bussed people from the City to Point Reyes for this show:
    http://pianofight.com/2011/08/10/pianofights-roughin-it-theater-oysters-campfire-booze/
    Our ticket price was $20 and the bus fare was another $20 – with 50 seats on the bus, that’s $1,000 to cover the rental. Basically, the bus broke even and we made money on the ticket sales.
    I think the big hurdle for people that Ken is talking about above is the planning/organization it takes to get somewhere an hour or two away. If you take care of the planning, I think you’d find people will plunk down $20-$40 for the bus ride and another $20-$40 for their ticket.

  • Brian Hajjar says:

    Great idea! If this gets to be very popular, maybe Regional Theatres could do something similar for surrounding small towns.
    Brian Hajjar

  • Kami says:

    Ted Greenberg (The Complete Performer) is a taxi driver who drives one person or couple home from each one of his shows.

  • Laurent says:

    This IS done for Broadway shows by companies that do it and profitably. I myself am a tour operator and have a colleague who brings buses from PA to the city every month. It works for NY shows and can work in your community as well! Those needing help in getting folks to NY are free to contact me.

  • Lauren Bies says:

    Hi Mr. Davenport,
    So perfect…as you know. And, your ingenuity has provided me with thoughts for my own project. The project I have been working on incorporates a theatrical production, the development of an app, and a series of YouTube segments. There is one underlying social issue that pervades throughout all three entities.
    As to your idea…and now mine:)You’ve started off with the emotional factor of linking director/cast member/hometown etc. My project can utilize the exact same premise, just different demographics. I’m just imagining the large audiences I can bring in with the issue I’m highlighting. It affects all races, both genders, various ages,religions…and reaches past us to international lands.
    You have truly opened an exciting, and profitable aspect to my marketing plan.
    On another note…I took more advice from you. I secured the Domain name of the website that will naturally branch from the app.
    Thank you for all you do.
    Warm regards,
    Lauren

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