In the 21st Century, THIS is the devil.

I’ve never been the most patient man on the planet, I’ll give you that.

But lately, I’ve found that I don’t want to wait for anything.

I don’t like waiting for the subway.  I don’t like waiting for packages to arrive.  I don’t like waiting to find a wifi spot!

And god forbid if I see a line . . . at a Starbucks, or at any retail store . . . well, most likely I’m out the door.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks lines are the devil incarnate for the modern consumer.  You know how I know I’m not alone?

Because I’ve watched big businesses, much larger than Broadway, make massive moves (translation – spend massive amounts of money) to reduce wait time for consumers, if not eliminate it altogether.

Amazon.com has a drone delivery service in Beta that can get you your order in 30 minutes.

All NYC subway stops now have Wifi and cell service.

Disney uses Apps and Magic Bands (not to mention FastPass) to regulate, inform, and allow customers to cut their wait times.

Starbucks listened to massive amounts of customer complaints about their long lines and implemented mobile ordering (which is one of the only reasons I get my breakfast sandwich there instead of the Mom & Pop deli down the block).

And obviously, TV and movie companies have almost given up on getting people to wait for a show time at a theater as on-demand networks like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon attract more and more eyeballs (and the dollars that go with them).

And there are a ton more examples of how industries are all recognizing that it’s not just impatient men like me and the Veruca Salts of the world that want things NOW, but it’s the modern consumer.

We don’t wanna wait.

That’s a challenge for the theater, which can’t be on demand (well, that’s not true, but tickets would be a heck of a lot more expensive!).  And honestly, for the big hits, the scarcity of the tickets only increases the heat around the property (Hamilton would have always been a hit – but the fact that you couldn’t get in for so long only made it more of a hit).

But for the not-so-big-hits . . . the shows in the middle of the market . . . we are going to face a challenge of the next generation not wanting to wait to consume entertainment when it will be even more on-demand in the next ten years.

Since there’s not much we can do to address that concern at the moment, Producers, Theater Owners, Artistic Directors and anyone who wants people to buy a ticket and come to a theater to consume live entertainment must try to eliminate any other “wait” times along the path.

Here are a few areas that we should all focus on to prevent people from walking away:

  • The purchase of a ticket must be an easy and quick process, with just a few clicks.
  • The line to enter the building must not look like the line at Ben & Jerry’s on free cone day.
  • Restrooms?  Enough said.
  • Concessions should be sold all over the theater (which will increase profits at the same time).
  • There should always be a way to get a ticket to an event (even if that means a few are very expensive – why should we force our customers to get out of our line and onto a broker site – which has no line).

Never in our history has a line (either in person or online) been a greater resistance point for a consumer wanting to make a purchase, or for positive word of mouth.

We need to find ways to eliminate ours before our customers queue up for something else that doesn’t have a queue.

 

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Comments
  • Jeff says:

    The most important thing to me regarding waits? START. PERFORMANCES. ON. TIME. I seethe when I’m sitting there at 8:10 or 8:15 and I’m still waiting for stragglers to show up, sometimes use the restroom first (as happened at The Wolves) and then take their time settling in while those of us who showed up on time are forced to wait.

    It’s all well and good for theaters to have no-late-seating policies, and I support them, but the tradeoff shouldn’t be punishment for having my life together. It REALLY gets me off on the wrong foot with the show and/or theater company.

  • Greg says:

    Many years ago when Tyrone Guthrie opened his eponymous theatre in Minneapolis, he instituted a “no late seating until intermission” rule and all performances started at 8 sharp. No discussion. And he made it stick, as only he could. Result: Every theatre in the Twin Cities found that their audiences began arriving plenty early and were in their seats well before curtain time, although none of those theaters shared this rule. It just takes one man with the courage of his convictions to change the world.

  • David Merrick Jr. says:

    “The purchase of a ticket must be an easy and quick process, with just a few clicks.”

    Good news, Ken. They have this and it’s called Ticketmaster.

    I use it all the time and sure enough, tickets ARE just a few mouse clicks away.

    And, yeah, you need an account, which takes all of a minute to set up.

    Take that off your list…

  • Carvanpool says:

    When will Davenport realize that live theater is a special and distinct type of entertainment?

    Everyone of his bright ideas is just some rehash from the latest marketing fad of the moment. If he had his way, the commoditization of Broadway would be complete, and, by the way, live theater would be dead.

    A while back, Davenport mentioned he’d be “branching out”, doing different things because apparently booking Broadway shows was not as easy as he figured it would be. He’d be doing TV, movies, whatever.

    After this misbegotten post, I hope he finally does get cracking on these other projects. Enough is enough.

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