The Top 3 Tools I Couldn’t Live Without as a Tourist.

I’m in midair as I type this blog, flying back from my honeymoon in Hawaii, where I lived like a tourist for the last 10 days.

Going on vacation is always great for relaxing and re-energizing the spirit, but I also find vacations to be super educational for producing Broadway shows.

See, Broadway audiences are about 65% tourists. That’s right, 65% of the people filling those seats aren’t from the tri-state area. They take planes, trains and automobiles from hundreds if not thousands of miles away to come to NYC and while they are here, they take in a show (hopefully two).

In other words, 65% of the people who attend Broadway shows are on vacation.

So when I’m away on vacation, I get into the same mindset of the tourist.  It’s like embedded producing.  I can try to figure out what makes them tick, and more importantly what makes them buy tick-ets.

On this trip I tried to determine what “tools” the modern tourist uses these days to help them make their purchasing decisions, so that I could make sure I’m maximizing my shows exposure on these tools back at home.

Here are the three tourist tools that I used on my vacation that effected my purchase decisions.

1. The Concierges are Key

I knew I could have gotten cheaper tickets to Burnin’ Love (The Elvis show on Maui) if I had spent a little time looking for the right coupon . . . but it was so much easier to just say to the concierge who was right at the front of my hotel, “Hey, I want to see this show,” and have them get me great seats, charge them to my room, and I’m done. Oh, and while I’m here, can you also get my surfing lessons, a helicopter ride, and a restaurant.   Yes they can.  Yes they can.  Tourists on vacation, especially those on “special vacations” in places like Hawaii or NYC (where you know you’re going to spend top dollar anyway), aren’t as frugal as you or I when looking for an entertainment option.  Concierges give recommendations, and save time, so you can get back to vacationing.   As a Producer you want to be the ones the concierges are recommending, so if you’re doing a show in NYC, do what you can to strengthen these relationships.

2. Yelp It Up!

I’m not a huge user of Yelp in the city.  I know what I like and where it is, and if not, I’ve got friends to recommend stuff for me.  But on vacation, oh man did I use this sucker (honorable mention to   While you can’t take every single one of the reviews too seriously (some Yelpers are more critical than Ben Brantley), when you see that a restaurant has 700+ reviews and it has more than 4 stars, you might want to check it out.   On this vacation, using these user review sites sold me on more businesses than ever before (and pushed me away from others).  Takeaway? Of course the only way to control the ratings and the reviews is to create great content and give great customer service . . .  but after that, encourage your audience to Yelp for you.  Peer-to-peer online recommendations are the wave of the present.  Oh, and I’d check out advertising options at the same time.

3. The Modern Map

The cool thing about Google maps (or any other electronic navigational system) is that you don’t have to look like an idiot anymore, standing on a street corner with a 40 x 40 sheet of paper in front of you trying to figure out which was is north.  (And don’t even get me started on trying to fold it up again.)  Tourists don’t know where they are going.  Whatever you can do to help them find you will have an immediate impact on your bottom line.  Are you listed on Google Places?  Are you advertising on some of the tourist maps that are distributed free in hotels?  Do you put a map on your flyers?

As times change, tourists change . . . and as a business that depends on those tourists for almost three quarters (!) of our business, we need to constantly change with them.

The next time you are vacationing, think about what you use that helps you spend money.  And then think about how you can reach tourists in your hometown using the same devices.

And if you need a recommendation on a great Shaved Ice place on the North Shore, let me know.


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  • Beth Kaufman says:

    You just gave me the best idea! Thanks Ken, congrats on your marriage.
    I have so much to fill you in on my show.

  • Amada says:

    I run a Broadway Walking tour and my demographics are exactly what you’ve described in this and previous blogs. I am constantly asked what shows I recommend and which ones I’ve seen and as much as I love Broadway I always love and support my fellow indie artists and have now created a special calendar on my website that all my tour attendees get a link to when they book a tour with me. It sure beats me carrying around a bunch of postcards and remembering every show out there. But yes the easier you can make it for tourists the better. Happy Honeymoon and congratulations again Ken!!!

  • Marshall says:

    Wondered how you were going to write off the honeymoon! 🙂 Excellent observations, Ken.

  • Kyle says:

    Congratulations on a wonderful honeymoon!!… Just in case you hadn’t heard yet, Yelp! recently won a legal case in San Francisco that now allows a company to purchase good ratings. I’m going to assume it will work the same way Facebook’s paid page boosts work, but regardless it’s going to be much harder to know for fact anymore whether the 500 reviews are real or not on yelp!… As a result trip advisor is now officially my top tourist rating site, and I’m moving over to open table for restaurants since at least it generally comes from people who actually had a reservation… Love your blog so much, welcome back to NYC!!

  • Janis says:

    I almost never see a show unless someone tells me to go. I always ask the concierge or better a friend who has been to several shows.

    I read reviews, I read ads, I read all about a lot of shows, but to actually get me there, I need someone to actually tell me the show’s great.

    I bet I’m not alone. So maybe giving the most tourist friendly and most tourist consulted folks free tickets or an invite to the opening night party would be a good idea. ?? Is anyone doing that?

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