Technology / 10.05.20
How Extending Access to Inspiring Live Experiences Can Transform Our Communities
By any measure, “Hamilton” has been a standout success. Only five years after it opened, it’s the sixth highest grossing Broadway musical of all time and has been performed for more than 2.6 million people.
By all accounts, the film version that premiered on Disney+ in July has also been a standout success:
All that said, the most revealing insight for venue owners and operators is this one: Of those who watched “Hamilton” the movie, a full 30% said they hadn’t seen the live performance but would like to.
To put this in context, let’s assume that 10% of the 60 million subscribers watched “Hamilton.” That’s more than 6 million viewers (assuming more than solo viewing parties). That means potentially more than 2 million people across the country want to see “Hamilton” live but haven’t, roughly equal to all the tickets “Hamilton” has sold in its first six years on Broadway and on tour.
Yes, “Hamilton” is an outlier. But it’s also an opportunity. Michael Jordan was a once-in-a-generation talent that the NBA was able to leverage into unimaginable growth for the game both in the U.S. and even more so internationally. “Hamilton” offers a similar moment for the performing arts. It demonstrates the power of the arts to break down barriers and bring together communities.
But theatres need to work harder to ensure those transformative experiences are accessible to those who desire them. How can venues seize this moment and connect with that additional 30% to deliver the live experience they dream of? How can venues make inspiring live experiences accessible to all and build sustainable growth over the long term?
“Hello! My Name Is …”1
It starts with knowing who attends an event right now. And this remains a significant challenge for venues today. Airlines know 100% of their passengers. Hotels know the vast majority of their guests. And research indicates that four out of five people will share information about themselves for a customized experience. So then why has live event ticketing lagged?
Live event ticketing is a distributed problem. The life cycle of a ticket is a complex web of primary sellers, authorized sellers and resellers. It is even further obfuscated as many ticketing companies will play two or three of those roles for a given event — it can be maddening. The solution to this problem involves providing venues with a means to control their tickets in a distributed environment. Once venues gain better control over their tickets, they can better understand their existing audience, which then allows them to connect and engage with new patrons in a more meaningful way.
The pandemic is providing even more rationale for the shift toward mobile, digital ticketing. Going completely digital empowers venues to know not only who purchased the ticket, but who used the ticket. As a result, venues can build relationships with patrons and make smarter decisions about their programming, pricing and other aspects of their operations to better achieve their mission to serve a more diverse community and open it to all who are interested in the arts.
“Now That I’ve Found You, Stay …”2
As the gulf between interest in “Hamilton” and those who actually attended the show makes clear, there is almost certainly a wider audience for live experiences than just those who are attending a show.
Various programs exist to attract those interested in performing arts who might not otherwise attend. There are many programs that offer free or deeply discounted tickets to university students, active duty military or veterans, and others. A number of Broadway theatres, for example, offer discounted tickets to patrons in their 20s and 30s, including Lincoln Center’s LincTix, Roundabout Theater Company’s Hiptix and Manhattan Theater Club’s 30 under 35 program. There are also rush, lottery and standing-room-only tickets sold the day of a show.
These programs break down barriers to access and encourage attendance, but they’re just a start. To make these programs more impactful, we need effective, efficient and automated controls. If controls are too lax, people will abuse the programs. If controls are too onerous, people won’t use the programs. Finding the balance is critical, and digital enables exactly that. Then venues can identify other creative ways to attract new audiences, from social media to advertising to referral programs. You can invite interested parties to experience the arts and develop those new relationships because now you can know when those parties come through the door.
“I Dreamed a Dream …”3
The programs that aim to increase access to shows are well-intentioned and arguably have been successful in attracting theatregoers who might not otherwise have the means. But there’s so much more we can do.
Live theatre and live events more broadly have a transformative power. When you connect people with experiences they desire, that leaves an indelible impact on them forever. Yet for many venues, making those connections is still an aspiration.
By leveraging a digital platform to better understand their audience, from their preferences and interests to the barriers that discourage them from attending, venues can make more optimal decisions that increase their capacity for delivering those transformative experiences to their communities.
The Landscape of Tomorrow
“Hamilton” is one of the most popular and highest grossing Broadway shows of all time. It’s not exactly surprising that there’s pent-up demand to see the show live. But “Hamilton” is just the beginning, a standout show that could drive interest in the arts for the next decade or more.
As venues look to the future, they have the ability to transform communities by extending access to the arts. Digital ticketing provides new ways to better understand who attends shows. With that knowledge and better control over their ticketing and experiences, venues can break down barriers and forge connections that deliver truly transformational experiences for those who desire them.
1 From “The Book of Mormon”
2 From “Jersey Boys”
3 From “Les Miserables”
This article was sponsored by True Tickets.
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