How a resort changed in 8 years and what that means for us.

Last weekend, I took a 24-hour jaunt to the Bahamas for a meeting with a client at the Atlantis mega resort.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been to Atlantis.  It was actually the very first vacation the wife and I went on as a new couple about 9 years ago (I knew we were destined to be together when she told me she wanted to go down the water slides within 10 seconds of arriving on site).

I was surprised to see that a lot had changed since that visit,  and even more surprised to see that what they changed seemed to be similar to the changes we’ve had here on Broadway . . . or that we should have here on Broadway.

Here are a few:

1.  More stuff for families

Vacation resorts are always trying to appeal to families.  But there was a definite increase in the programming for the kid-set this time around.  From pushing the all-teen nightclub, to kids-eat-free meal plans, to a show by a world-class magician (they didn’t even have a show when I was there last), it’s obvious that the family market is an even bigger part of the Atlantis demographic than ever before.  Reminded me of this blog I wrote announcing the four family shows about to land on our shores, and how that’s changing the Broadway demographic as well (it’s the “Disney effect”).

2.  More stuff for adults too

Atlantis knows that some people want to vacation without even seeing a kid, never mind hear one screaming its lungs off at the pool.  So, to counter the above, there were more “Adults Only” areas at the resort this time around.  What this means for Broadway, is that while more and more family shows take up our theaters, it’ll be important for our long-term health that our “programmers” (The Producers and even more so, the Theater Owners) make sure our adult audiences are satisfied as well.  We don’t want to become what Manny Azenberg said we’re already becoming in Monday’s podcast.

3.  More first class options

When coming up with a pricing strategy for my shows (or merch, or any product actually), my mantra is, “There is always someone who will fly first class.”  Adding a higher priced exclusive option will not only sell at least a few (because of the aforementioned mantra), but it also has the bonus effect of making everything else look cheaper.  (Think about it.  You’re pitched a show.  Price for a ticket is $100.  Now you’re pitched another show.  Price is $800, or $100.  All of a sudden $100 looks like a deal, right?  Same is true for hotel rooms.)  Atlantis was just rolling out their high-priced exclusive area of the resort the last time I was there . . . and now, it’s a significant part of the resort.  With these additions, they can cater to all ends of the market . . . the high-roller down to the budget conscious.  Producers should do the same. Yes, add the premium options for the people that want to sit where they can see the actors sweat and don’t mind paying for it, but don’t forget about the students who just need a way into the building without having to sell their blood.

4.  More behind-the-scenes experiences

Atlantis is where I first swam with dolphins.  It was pretty great.  The dolphins pushed us through the water (surfing via dolphin), gave us a kiss on the cheek and more.  Being in the water with them instead of watching them in a tank made us feel like we were truly behind-the-scenes.

Well, 8 years later, Atlantis has added another dolphin experience that allows you to get even further behind-the-scenes.  It’s a 7 hour, “Be A Trainer” adventure.  And I have to tell you, I wanted to do it.  Don’t you?  If you have an affinity for a subject, you want to go deeper into that subject, and if you’re on vacation, you’ll probably pay for it.  I didn’t have the 7 hours to spare this time, but oh, next time you can bet I’m going to hang with those dolphins like they were my boys on Entourage.

Broadway doesn’t do anywhere near the amount of “behind-the-scenes” experiences we should.  I always hear the same excuse, “It’s an insurance issue.”  So listen up, Powers-That-Be, if a resort that caters to families can allow 10 year old kids to get in the water with 400 pound sea mammals, I think we should be able to figure this out, don’t you?

Going on vacation and going to a Broadway theater are both luxury items.  No one needs to go to the Bahamas or to a Broadway show to survive.  While these two forms of entertainment may seem different at first blush, the fact is that a trend in one is a trend in another.  And we’d be wise to watch and learn from what other, richer industries like resorts are doing to attract more customers so that we can do the same.


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  • Carvanpool says:

    What it must be like to be you. All things shiny and new and all with a direct lesson on how to market Broadway. From swimming with dolphins (in spite of it being abusive to the animals) to devaluing the majority of your seating inventory by overpricing a portion of it, there really is no fad or new age mantra that’s off limits to you.

    If you want to produce Broadway shows, fine, do it. But all you are really up to is muddying the waters, running down ever rabbit hole you stumble upon.

    For crying out loud, focus.

  • Frank says:

    You are struggling to get people to agree to spend 3 hours in your theater… at a resort people stay for days. I’m not really seeing how these two industries are similar at all.

  • Joe says:

    Why all the negativity in the comments? I agree whole-heartedly that making the theatrical experience an event is exactly the way you should go. Think about it compared to baseball games: in the 70’s, the most exciting thing about the non- game activities was an organist playing pop tunes. If you go to Citi Field or Camden Yards today, there are plenty of things to do for the kids and “adults only”. So instead of paying for just your ticket and maybe a hot dog and a beer, a parent is going to schlep along his whole family- buy 4 x’s as many dogs and cokes and beers and cotton candy, plus walk out with hats and shirts and pennants. The ballgame has become an event that parents are willing to drop a ton of money. I recently took my four kids to a game and the experience will last a lifetime. If I could have gone backstage after seeing SCHOOL OF ROCK last month with my girls, I’d gladly have done it as well.
    Let’s truly make theater event programming. I’d love a tour backstage before the show. I’d happily do a meet and greet with the cast. Lets make it an experience that going to a movie just can’t possibly achieve. In doing that, we’ll create the next generation of theater lovers.

  • Carvanpool says:

    Negativity? No, just a realistic view.

    Btw, baseball is a great example of what not to do. Used to be a generational experience. Now it’s priced out of reach of families. The game itself has taken a backseat to the “marketers” that have watered everything down, with interleague play, instant replay, loud music and $10 beers. Any wonder why you see so many empty seats behind the plate at all the ballparks? Priced out of reach of middle class. Life’s good for the one per centers, but not for the rest of us.
    Glad you had fun. Enjoy it while you can

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