I’m not smart enough for this.

All I read about these days are algorithms.

And I want one!  Mah!  (That was said in my best Veruca Salt, btw.)

Seriously, though, I have algorithm envy.  It seems that every industry out there is using some mathematical formula to help increase profitability.  Why not ours!

I know Math and Art are like Fire and an Extinguisher, but there has got to be some mathematician out there with a Thoroughly Modern Millie fetish that might want to lend a left brain to our biz.

I know I can’t do it.  I even got through some college calculus but this is beyond me.

What I can do is come up with ideas on what those algorithms could be used for.  Shoot, I can do that all day long.

Like the other day, for example.  It was about 7 AM, and I was grabbing my Venti Americano from the mobile order station at my local Starbucks, and I noticed that it wasn’t as filled to the brim with tourists speaking other languages.  And I joked, “I wonder if there is a correlation between the number of tourists in this Starbucks at 7 AM and how Broadway will gross today.  Wouldn’t that be funny?  Haha.”

Luckily, I used my inside voice, because if I had said that out loud, I just might have set off the Nerd Alarm.

But it did get me to thinking . . .

I was probably right, to some extent.  I was just a little too micro.  Certainly, if you looked at the business of all the Starbucks, there might be a correlation.  Or better . . . the occupancy rate in the city . . . or the number of passengers arriving at LaGuardia.

Since 65% of our audience is from out of town, tracking this stuff might give us a good prediction of where we’ll end up.

And that’s where the algorithm comes in . . .

I bet that there is someone out there . . . hopefully, someone reading this very blog . . . who could come up with a formula that would accurately predict how the industry as a whole . . . or better, a specific show . . . would fare in a given week based on incoming tourists, hotel occupancy rates, etc.

We’ve got enough prior data to feed into the computer.  Surely it could spit something out.  Don’t you think?

I may not have the answer to this mathematical dilemma . . . but I do know that coming up with prediction models is something our industry and every show desperately needs.

If you don’t have an algorithm today don’t let that stop you from trying to come up with a formula for estimating where you’ll end up in a given week.

Because to run a business effectively, you can’t worry about the period you’re in.  But you can and must worry about the weeks ahead.

  • Nick Martin says:

    I love this idea. When I’m talking to theaters about their show selection for the next season, it doesn’t seem they have a clear idea of what type of show will generate the most profits. Instead, it seems to be a combination of “this seems to be working for other theaters- we should do it too” and “this children’s book is popular- maybe it will generate ticket sales.”

    Facilitating a better understanding of what elements lead to profitability will help theaters, producers AND playwrights to create, market and execute more consistently profitable productions.

  • Justin Maxfield says:

    Hi Ken,

    I was actually recently hired at Nederlander as a data scientist. As you might expect, I love discussing these things. Feel free to reach out and we can chat about algorithms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *