You asked. We listened. New At The Booth™ version released.

Products, like plays, don’t have to be stagnant.

They should live, breathe, and morph based on audience feedback and interaction.

We launched our At The Booth iPhone App just a couple of months ago, and, frankly, we got some incredible positive feedback.

But you want to know what the best feedback was?

Constructive criticism.

It’s hard to hear phrases that begin with, “You know what would make this better?”

Luckily, I have an incredible development team that craves those kind of comments, because they know what stings today brings happier customers tomorrow.

So, we took those comments, went back into the e-labs, and tweaked our app to include some more features that you requested.

Here’s what you wanted, and here’s what you’re gonna get with the new update:

  • Portrait view
  • Facebook and Twitter share feature (let your friends know what show you’re seeing!)
  • Restaurants near the theater
  • Lottery and rush information
  • And more.

Download the update today.

And after you do, email me and let me know how we can make it even better next time.  Because that’s what product and play development is all about.

Oh . . . and for those of you who are about to email me and ask for a Blackberry or Droid version?

Don’t bother.

Because both versions are coming.  Soon.  (And BTW, that Droid is one sexy smartphone.)

Get the At The Booth update here.

10 Questions for a Broadway Pro. Volume 6: Flora Stamatiades, AEA Union Rep.

When you hear the words, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), you probably think of the more than 40,000 actors (and stage managers) that are represented by that professional union.  Well, AEA has a lot of folks toiling tirelessly behind-the-scenes as well, trying to keep all those members working.  And in today’s theatrical economy, that is not an easy task.

But that’s exactly the job that Flora Stamatiades has.  And let me tell you from firsthand experience, she’s good at it. I’ve watched her single-handedly create hundreds and hundreds of union jobs where there were none before . . . while at the same time making the Producer happier about it!  Win-win is her middle name, and that’s usually what she gets.

So without further ado, here are 10 Qs for Flora about what it’s like working for one of the most important unions in our biz.

1. What is your title?

National Director, Organizing & Special Projects, Actors’ Equity Association

2. What show/shows are you currently working on?

I can’t really describe it in that way – but right now, I’m taking a look at several projects/industry sectors that we would like to see available for our members. There is also a constant flow of performers back and forth across the Atlantic keeping me busy.

3. In one sentence, describe your job.

I’ll give you two sentences for the two very disparate parts of my job:

1) Working with staff, members, elected leadership, and Producers to create more opportunities for work under Equity contracts.

2) Handling all issues of foreign performers appearing here and Equity members appearing abroad.

4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?

You need to be a good listener and a creative thinker.  You should also have a broad-based understanding of the industry, and it doesn’t hurt to be both flexible and stubborn as hell.  I’m still working on all of these, especially the first.

5. What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?

Most of my training has been “on-the-job” – I’ve been fortunate enough to be guided by mentors who not only let me take on projects that might traditionally not be seen as my duties (especially before I was in my current position), but who also supported me in taking extra classes and training during my time here.

6. What was your first job in theater?

My first job after college was as the “Shop Assistant” at the (sadly) defunct Coconut Grove Playhouse.  Interestingly, our attempt to organize the tech staff there led not very indirectly to my being laid off after one season.

7. Why do you think theater is important?

It nurtures communication, emotion, thought, and sometimes, just plain fun! Also, it’s a shared experience that fosters teamwork both in its execution and its enjoyment.  It’s also an economic driver in its community – providing not only jobs, but ancillary income in restaurants, concessions, local businesses like the lumber yard or dry cleaner, and so on.

I would get into all that talk about how the arts improve people’s lives/children’s educations, etc., but I’ll leave that to someone who’s more expert in those areas.

8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?

Assumptions – on both sides.

9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

I think transparency and trust (which I really see as two sides of one coin) would make the labor/management relationship more productive.  I see efforts in this direction all the time from both sides, but too often it is easy to fall back into old patterns, especially as we are “taught” that we are enemies.

10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?

It helps to have a broad-based understanding of the industry – not only from the perspective of the members you want to represent, but from the perspective of other industry unions, and even of employers.

Long before I decided in what area of the industry I wanted to work, I had tried most
everything – even acting, sadly for some audiences. But the skills gained
in each area of work added to my understanding of what it takes to put a
show/season together, and I hope leads to more productive conversations with
Producers and especially, our members (and future members).

And one final thing I recommend for anyone doing any type of
work – keep studying and training.  There is always more to learn!

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Only 6 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win an iPad!

Play today! Click here!

And don’t forget to RSVP for my Tony Party!

Come on inside for dinner. Or for a show.

101_0367 Meet Tae.

Tae is the street-greeter at Bangkok House restaurant on 46th St, between 8th & 9th Avenues, also known as Restaurant Row. I see Tae every day on my way to work.  She always smiles, says hello, and then tries to get me inside for lunch or dinner.

She makes me feel special (even though I know it’s only because she wants me to try their special).

If you walk down Restaurant Row, you’ll see lots of people just like Tae, greeting passersby, and hawking their cuisine . . . and filling up their empty tables in the process, maximizing their revenue.

Know where I’m going with this?

We’ve got flyer folks in the streets, and TKTS promoters in front of the booth . . . but what about a Tae in front of the theater?  I’d bet you lunch at Bangkok House that she’d get enough folks to come in off the street and buy tickets that she’d pay for herself faster than you can say “perishable inventory.”  (Maybe you can even maximize your investment by having Tae sell your upgrades after she’s done working the street!)

We can learn a lot from our perishable inventory brother and sister industries around the world, from the airlines, to the restaurants, to the sports teams.  In fact, I think there should be a Perishable Inventory Convention, where the leaders of PI industries all over the globe get together to share the best practices for their business.

If there were a conference like that. I bet it’d sell out . . . and at the max price possible.

We might even see Tae out front, selling any last few remaining seats.

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Only 13 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win an iPad!

Play today! Click here!

And don’t forget to RSVP for my Tony Party!

Could destination advertising work?

I was at the airport in Burbank, CA a few weeks ago (which is the best kept secret in airline travel to LA, by the way), and on my walk towards baggage claim, I noticed a lot of advertisements for . . .  Las Vegas.

Burbank airport must get a lot of travelers to Sin City, I thought, to justify ad after ad for the hotels, shows and restaurants of this vacation destination.

Since 65% of the Broadway audience depends on tourists visiting New York, could Broadway shows be helped by identifying the key states that send us the most traffic (California, Texas, Illinois) and advertising locally? Could we attempt to get a customer closer to a purchase decision before they get to the city (and before they face a lot more of our competition’s ads)?  And because these locations are outside of NYC, wouldn’t the media actually cost us less?

Shows have been advertising in in-flight magazines for years, and at the NY airports as well.  But as the NY market gets more and more cluttered with shows competing for the short-term attention of the customer, perhaps it’s time to try and get to them earlier.

Whether taking ads in or near airports in other cities would work totally depends on the cost of the media in those locations.  Without a doubt, you’re not going to be visible to as many potential customers as a billboard in NY, so the ad is less valuable . . . but with the amount of inventory available all over the country, perhaps there are deals to be made.

Or perhaps this shouldn’t be a specific show-driven campaign . . . perhaps it should be a Broadway campaign, with the goal of making sure that every person that gets on a plane, train or automobile on their way to NY takes in a show or two or three, during their stay.

To ensure our survival, we have to make sure Broadway is at the top of our customers’ minds.  Getting to them before our competitors do gives us a head start.

 

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