There is a reason why Generals and Presidents visit the front lines, and it’s for more than just morale. They visit so they can understand the conditions that face the troops. The smart Generals, and the smart Presidents, learn a lot in those secret-until-the-last-minute-and-then-highly-publicized visits. And they take that info home and develop new strategies to make their efforts more efficient.
Have you visited your front lines lately?
In NYC, Broadway tickets are distributed in a lot more areas than you think, and it’s important for Producers to take a tour of all the locations where their “birds” (street for ‘tickets”) are hawked.
What will you learn?
You’ll hear conversations from potential ticket buyers, as well as how the people peddling the tickets are pitching your shows. You’ll see what advertising options are available, and what is influencing the buyer’s decision at that moment. And I’m sure you’ll take that info home and figure out how to increase your presence in those areas to insure that you increase your sales.
Here are five spots that you should check out on your next rounds:
1. Your Box Office
2. The TKTS Booth
I don’t care if you’re “at the booth” or not, you should spend a lot of time here. The TKTS booth has the gravitational pull of the sun to theater lovers. Rich, poor, it doesn’t matter. They flock to the booth. I’ve learned more about what makes a consumer tick by standing in that line than I have in ten years behind a desk.
3. Hotel Concierges
Full-price sales are the key to financial success on Broadway (which is why there’s a lot of lobbying going on to get the TKTS booth to sell FP tickets as well – and why shouldn’t they?). Hotel concierges, most of whom work with a respected ticket agency like Americana, sell full price tickets (plus a markup). So, doesn’t it make sense that you should see what’s happening at these desks that dot hotel lobbies around the city? Just a poster up in their shop is a serious impression.
4. The Times Square Information Center
Nestled in right next to the Palace Theatre, sits the Times Square Alliance’s Information Center, which has some cool museum-like artifacts of the old Times Square (check out the real live Peep Booths), a souvenir shop, and is also home to the Broadway League’s “Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center”. In addition to tickets, the Ticket Center reps will talk restaurants and recommendations . . . and will do so in six languages. And they even wear a uniform of all black that make us look like the 1st class industry we are (can someone explain to me why the TKTS ticket sellers aren’t required to where a TKTS shirt, a shirt and tie, or a See A Broadway Show t-shirt? (Shoot, I know shows that would pay for those sellers to wear logo tees. Ok, that’s pushing it, because TDF is a non-profit that can’t show individual show allegiance, but you get the point.)
Even though the Info Center is hard to find, there is a lot buying going on in there, so check it out.
They’ve even got a mini-stage, which made me wonder why we’re not doing live performances there a few times a week, and pulling people off the street to hear, oh, I don’t know, the lead from Mamma Mia! doing “Winner Takes It All”, etc. Done at key times during the weekend, I bet it would get people into the center, and sell tickets.
5. Sandwich Board Central
Out in front of the Marquis Theater, in the new pedestrian walkway, is a section of the city I call Sandwich Board Central. Every Producer I know hates sandwich boards, until they see that they actually sell tickets. I know what you’re saying, you’d never buy tickets from a guy passing out a flyer, but a lot of people do. They only way to figure out why is to hang out in SBC for a while and listen. It’s a specific type of buyer . . . and maybe you can learn how to get more of them . . . or better . . . maybe you can learn how to turn them into a buyer who gets their tickets before they see a sandwich board.
6. Scalper Way
Up closer to the TKTS booth, you’ll find a bunch of folks, half of them looking homeless, screaming their lungs out, with a fan of tickets in their hand, trying to get rid of every show you can imagine, at every price you can imagine. What they lack in teeth, they make up for in the old fashioned hard-sell. And you know what’s amazing? People actually buy tickets from them!!! And that’s what I find interesting. You can learn more from your enemies than you can from your friends. So I do.
Purchasing a $135 ticket, or even a $50 ticket, doesn’t happen as easily as you might think. There’s a lot of back and forth, and a lot more people wriggle off your hook than you think.
Paying a visit to the places where decisions are made can help you learn about the factors that go into these big decisions, and will allow you to make better decisions in how you bait your hook in the future.