Yet another post about exchanges. This one with an idea.

Well, aren’t ticket exchanges a hot topic!

First I posted this post-Xmas blog about Broadway return policies (or lack thereof), and how I’m a proponent of having our policies be a bit more forgiving (for a price).

Then, I got an email from a Disney exec. about their new policy which inspired this post.

And wouldn’t you know it?  After that, I got a few other emails from VIPs around the industry talking about other more flexible return policies, including Jersey Boys, which offers a winter weather guarantee.  They are smart enough to know that a lot of their audience comes from . . . uh . . . Jersey, so should winter weather get in a ticket holder’s way, it’s no problem . . . free exchange.  They even did a press release announcing it.

A few other shows like Mamma Mia!, Cinderella and Rock of Ages have similar policies, but they are little more hush hush about it.

It seems like we’re on the verge . . . and I’m once again saying let’s jump off the cliff already.

And here’s my idea:

For the last decade or so, there has been an advertising agency that has sponsored a winter sales initiative called Season of Savings.  And this year, it didn’t happen.

What if next year, in November, right before the holiday shopping period began, and two months before the slow, sh!tty winter, the industry got behind a very public exchange campaign?  We’ve done “Tuesdays at 7” campaigns and “Kids Night” campaigns, now it’s time to go out big with a “Broadway does exchanges” campaign.  I bet we could get buy in from at least 20 shows.

Parting with $150 (including service fees) PER TICKET is a scary proposition.  Our job is to make it less so . . . and to make it easier for that potential customer to make that purchase.  And letting them know that their $150 (did I say including service fees) PER TICKET is safe if their babysitter doesn’t show, or they get snowed in, or they get the flu might be just what the audience ordered.

And hey – maybe a Broadway-wide exchange campaign just might encourage full price sales instead of discounts.

Now wouldn’t that be something?


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  • Mark Shugoll says:

    Many non-profit theaters have begun exchanges on single tickets. They charge a small fee (some are $4 per ticket) to protect the benefit of free exchange traditionally offered to subscribers. Ticket buyers say this is effective in motivating them to purchase in advance; in the past they sometimes held off unless it was a must see because people are busy and conflicting things can come up. We are not just in the arts/entertainment business, we are in the customer satisfaction business. It is about time commercial theater worked harder to meet the needs of its customers by offering exchange.

  • Barbara says:

    A very difficult idea to embrace since a theatre ticket is a perishable item. It is particularly difficult for a limited run production to justify last minute cancellations when the ticket sale can’t always be turned around … this results in solid revenue evaporating and if the rebooking is made into a performance that is bound to sell out with new sales anyway, then the loss doubles. There is also the “casual” cancellation to be wary of when the weather is not optimal..Perhaps the answer may lie in the price of the initial sale … similar to hotels and airlines .. where you can pay a “super-saver” price with no cancellations/no refunds/not ever to a fully exchangable reservation at a much higher premium. Don’t make the option available later for a fee.. make the consumer take the gamble up front. I’ve had to eat my share of non-cancellable reservations (hotel/theatre/etc), but knowing I took the gamble up front and lost made the “meal” a bit more palatable

  • Debbie Saville says:

    From a personal perspective, I woke up excited on New Year’s eve anticipating the New Year celebration I paid for in November. I had to work that day but excited that I would be partying on a riverboat later that evening. Around 1pm I started not feeling well. By 1:30pm I was driving home with the flu all hopes of partying on a boat… “gone”. I pulled out my expensive tickets which clearly read “no refunds/no exchanges”. As I thought about it, I could accept “no refunds” but there are many other riverboat cruise options during the year at this price range and that part I decided I did not agree with and it made it a little more difficult to just throw expensive tickets away. And what the Gateway Clipper Fleet doesn’t know, this experience will definitely have an impact on where I will choose to go next year. Personally, I would pay a higher price to secure an exchange if the unexpected happens.

  • Aaron Pratt says:

    I totally agree with this post, but especially connected with the last sentence regarding encouraging full-price ticket sales. It is a truth that so many other businesses already realize: providing additional value to the full-price option encourages the buyer to consider that purchase more thoroughly.

    Say for instance you buy a car rental on Hotwire, or Travelocity or any other discount travel site. The fine print clearly states that you will not receive any refunds or exchanges and that the sale is truly final. But if you made that same car rental purchase with the actual company, they would provide you with that exchange or refund. (I know this from personal experience, unfortunately). So that full-price option acted as an insurance policy for the potential need to refund or exchange. The same is true for flights and hotels too, by the way- the full-price buyer will always get preferential treatment.

    Our problem with full price tickets is simple: there isn’t enough incentive to buy them. Aside from a better seat, the customer gets the same customer service experience, the same return/exchange policies, no preferential entry, no free drink from the bar or… The list goes on. If we want to encourage more people to shell out the big dough, we should probably start making it worth their while to do so.

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