5 Ways to sell tickets on a Snow Day.

You’ve worked so hard advertising your show, and then wham-bam-thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another, in comes Mother Nature to remind you who’s the boss.

As you probably know, Broadway is under a sloth of snow, and since the majority of our audiences don’t live within a block of our theaters, a lot of shows will have seats to sell.  This blizzard is going to take a huge bite out of business this week, both in the lack of “walk-up” and in the number of exchanges that will be requested from all those folks in New Jersey, Long Island and the environs that won’t be able to get their SUVs anywhere close to the city.  (What I wish I had access to that I don’t – is the sales data for all of Broadway for the weeks leading up to the snow, because I’d bet you this blog that sales starting dropping precipitously the moment the storm was announced.)

But before you go sticking your head in a snow pile, there are things you can do to sell tickets if you’re a Broadway show, Off Broadway show or a community theater production in North Dakota.  Here are a few:


Sure, a whole lot of people can’t come in to the city, but a whole lot of people can’t get out of the city either.  When planes get canceled, people get trapped, and those people don’t have anything to do.  They’re holed up in a hotel steps away from your theater . . . and it’s your job to get them out.  Talk to concierges, flyer outside the hotels, flyer inside the hotels (I once sneaked into a hotel near a theater and slipped flyers under doors like they were Chinese menus for three weeks – until I got busted), create email partnerships with the hotels and give them a cut of ticket sales.  There are audiences in them there hotels.  (And if you want the advanced version of this . . . once you get done with the hotels, go to the airlines, because oh baby, did they make a lot of people mad today – maybe they’d buy tickets to your show to give to trapped folks as a “we’re sorry!”)


In times of emergency, you’re supposed to have flashlights, batteries, a gallon of water per person, etc.  In times of show emergencies, you know what you really need?  A huge email list.  This is exactly the time when you need a list of your most faithful followers, because a quick and amazing offer to them will definitely get ’em in your door.  You have been keeping a list, right?  You have been working on building it every day, right?  Remember my #1 marketing goal for every show, every business, and every person . . . double your email list every year.  Do that, and not rain or shine, snow or sleet, will get in the way of your show.


No one likes to comp.  But there are certainly people that might provide long term value to your show if they see it.  I’m talking about . . . well, talkers.  People who, if they like your show, may help exaggerate your word of mouth.  This could be waiters, bartenders, personal trainers, hair dressers . . . anyone who talks to a lot of potential audience members.  And, since you probably have empty seats because of the snow, this is a perfect time to get them in, give them something to do, and not lose any revenue.  Turn this snowy short term revenue loss into a long term revenue gain.


Your actors, crew, and musicians probably aren’t too excited about being at the theater in the snow.  So what about offering them a super sweet deal to get their friends and family in?  And I’m not talking about an offer that they can get at the TKTS booth or at a discount site.  I’m talking about something really good, and really special.  Not only will you drop a few extra bucks in the till, but I’d bet your performance will be full of energy with those loved ones in the audience.


On days like this, no one wins.  So why not band together and offer a locals-only deal that would increase general sales and press?  Imagine if 20 shows offered 50% off on the day of a blizzard for anyone with a NYC ID?   It’s this kind of cooperation that needs to occur in order to stabilize our business when something beyond our control intervenes.  Sure, not every show would participate, but I’d bet more would than not, if we could just pull it all together.


The thing to remember when this kind of thing happens is that for every five people that can’t come to your show, there’s one that can (stuck tourists, children who aren’t in school, etc.). Your job is to figure out where they are, and market to ’em fast and furiously.  And, the most important thing to do when a storm hits requires you to think about it well before it happens.

In other words, boy scouts and girls.  Be prepared.


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  • Marina Barry says:

    I love your positive take on things Ken ~ and you are sooo right. There’s lots of ‘captive’ audience potentials out there waiting, longing and needing to be entertained while stranded. Find them and get them in the seats! And thank them for any $$$ generated. I love the idea of sharing a discount with all of us NYer’s as well……..especially us poor actors who make great audience members.

  • Fran Clairmont says:

    Those people in hotels – need to eat. Tent cards on a restaurant table with a “add two Broadway show tickets to your dinner” like some restaurants do with movies. Think about how many more people could be reached in a restaurant – locals and visitors. A deal with the restaurants could include previews, slow nights, and weather events. In return offer the restaurant free advertising in your Playbill, or posted placards or something so that it is a win-win for the diner, the restaurant and the producer. Imagine having a nice dinner with wine and a table side deal for tickets that matches TKTS. Now that is a deal that would be hard to refuse!

  • Paula says:

    Great ideas except for a day like Monday with a city shutdown. There was no transportation to get home….

  • Lissa Levin says:

    This is quintessential “pay it forward” business strategy. Simultaneously altruistic and commercially ingenious. And one of the many reasons I read your blog.

  • Dara says:

    I agree with my fellow commenters, snow day ticket deals and even giveaways are a good faith way to not only fill some seats but also show some love for NYers and anyone else stuck in the city.

    It reminds me of the non-profit concept of a “friendraiser” (an event for donors/supporters at which you don’t plan to raise money). The payoff being that while it costs money to put on, you strengthen the relationship between your organization and the attendees, hopefully increasing their ultimate financial loyalty to the cause.

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