Why a box office should be a bit like private school.

Ok, readers.  This is your official rant alert, so look out.  Ready?  Set?   Here goes . . .

I went to pick up four tickets to a big budget Broadway show recently that cost me about $500 buckaroos.

I approached that big scary glass partition (that I’ve blogged about before), and out popped a box office rep ready to serve me.  And serve me they did . . . wearing a well-worn sweatshirt and jeans, like they were working behind the counter at a Dairy Queen, not a Broadway box office.

Can you name me another industry that is trying to sell consumers a product priced over $100/each, with the average sale probably around $500,  that would let their front line sales reps wear a sweatshirt and jeans?  They have dress codes at The Gap, for G-D’s sake, why can’t we?

Maybe this was a fluke, as certainly not all box offices in town dress this way.  There are plenty of suit and tie BOs out there.    But frankly, this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen “dress down day” at a show, so I felt compelled to say/write something.

If you expect a customer to shell out megabucks for your product, you should dress to impress.  That’s sales training 101.  In fact, that’s sales training wheels 101.

And if you don’t want to make your employees have to figure out what to wear, then put them in a uniform, even if that’s just the same type of t-shirt.

It’s just respectful, especially when engaging in high-priced business transactions (or even when you just want them to buy an $15 Gap T-Shirt).

And treating our customers with respect is the best way to get them to “pay” their respects as well.


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You make the call: would you take the group and change your show?

The fight between Art and Commerce is like the fight between Cats and Dogs, Republicans and Democrats, Lindsay Lohan and the law.

As a Producer you may be faced with tough decisions all the time.  You’ll have artists who want to add more scenery to a scene that you know won’t result in more ticket sales . . . but you’ll want to do it, because it will make the show’s statement stronger.  You’ll have marketers that want your star to appear on Howard Stern . . . even though your star hates Howard like Lindsay Lohan hates paying for expensive jewelry.  And you’ll want your star to do it because maybe Howard reaches an audience that is right for your show.

Or . . . you’ll be faced with the real-life decision that came across our desk here at DTE last week.

Here’s what happened.  And pay close attention, because just like my favorite part of watching football when I was a kid, I’m going to give you the chance to “Make the call!”

I have a division at my office that sells group tickets to Broadway shows.  A few weeks ago we got an inquiry from a group of 500 people that was looking for a show.  Yep, 500!  That’s 1/3 of a big Broadway house, which means quite an impact on a weekly gross.  We suggested a few shows to the group leader that we thought were appropriate for this group, and the leader went off to scout them.

The group came back and said there was one show that they specifically interested in.  “Great,” we said and started to place they order.

There was just one problem.

The group explained that there were a few moments in the show that they thought were objectionable, and unfortunately, because of the mission statement of the organization, they would not be able to book their group (of 500!) if those moments were in the show.

Insert dramatic chords here.

The “moments” weren’t specifically plot-related, nor would they involve a great deal of work to alter them.

But would the show make the alterations to satisfy this group?

Insert more dramatic chords here.

Obviously there are a lot factors that would be involved in this decision, like when the group is looking to come (what time of year and what performance during the week), how well the show is doing, how much the group is paying, etc.

But if you’re a commercial theater producer, the question is whether you would be willing to ask your creative team to make the changes to their work to accomodate this bonus to the bottom line?

And that’s the question I’m asking you!

You make the call.  Would you change the show for the group?

Comment below!  (Email subscribers, click here to add your comment).

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