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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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