5 Tips to Marketing your Show To the Party Market

Yesterday, I chatted about the next current generation of Broadway group audiences, aka The Party Market.

Today I’m going to give you five tips about those party people that will hopefully get them celebrating at your show soon.

Ready to paaaaaaarty?  Here goes:

1.  The Planner is not a Pro.

In the Traditional Group Sales Market, the person placing the order is most likely a professional (A Tour Operator, etc.) or at least someone that has ordered group tickets before.  In the Party Market, they may be planning a group experience for the very first time (Maid of Honor, Spouse planning a 40th Birthday, etc.).  And remember, they’ve been charged with making sure this event goes very, very smoothly and is a day/night to remember . . . so they are under some serious pressure.  It’s your job to walk them through the process remembering that they are a newbie.  For shows/theaters with expected high demand for parties and special events I suggest a special toll-free number (They are a lot cheaper than you think), and a specific person on the other end of the line that handles all of these events (in a perfect world, the person placing the order can also be at the event, so what I call the “customer service circle” is completed).  You want the Planner to think, “If I have a problem, I just call Sally at 1-800-xxx-xxxx, and she’ll handle everything.”  Other things you can provide to make the Planner’s life easier are invitations, save-the-dates, day of checklists, and more.

2.  The Planner might not know everyone in the party.

Party planners are in charge of the guest list, and making sure everyone on that guest list has a ticket to the event.  The problem is, the Planner may not know half the people that the guest of honor wants invited.  And in a typical scenario, the Planner would be responsible for fronting the cash for the tickets for a whole bunch of people that they don’t know/trust.  “What if they don’t come?  How do I collect for the ticket?  I can’t afford to put all these tickets on my credit card!?”  These are the #1 concerns that I hear from Party Planners all the time.  One of the most successful programs we established on The Awesome 80s Prom was setting up a system that allowed the Planner to reserve the party and hold the seats, without charging them . . . and then giving each person in the party a way to order tickets individually as a part of the group.  Reservations skyrocketed after we introduced this system, as it made each individual responsible for purchasing their ticket, rather than putting the planner on the hook for the whole shebang.  Parties need flexibility.

3.  It’s more about when than about how much.

Parties happen because something else is happening (Birthday, Bar Mitzvah, Divorce (!)).  Because they are tied to a specific event, usually parties want to go to a show when they want to go to a show, and there’s not much you can do to move them around.  Weekends (and Saturdays, specifically) are usually their first only choice of when to celebrate.  Don’t waste a lot of time trying to convince/force your parties to attend when you want them to attend. I’ve seen some folks drop their price significantly to try and get a party to happen at a Tuesday night performance.  What happens?  The show looks desperate, and the party still happens on a Saturday.

4.  It’s a special event.  So make it so.

When you have a birthday at a restaurant, they’ll bring you a piece of cake, sing you Happy Birthday, and maybe even do a little dance.  Or when you’re at a Red Sox game, they’ll flash your name up on that jumbotron.  You can’t do either of these at a show, duh, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the celebrant feel special some other way.  Free t-shirt?  Back stage tour?  Shout out during curtain call?  A card from the star?  Let the Planner know how you’re going to make this a night that the Birthday Boy/Bachelorette/Etc. will never forget.  Oh, and a little tip, when you come up with the right birthday gag, you can even charge for it.

5.  The party ain’t over just because the show is over.

This is my favorite thing to do when we book a party.  And it’s simple, and rooted in good ol’ fashioned manners.  When you book the tickets for the party, make sure you find out exactly when that birthday is, or when the wedding is, or when the whatever is . . . and send the person celebrating a card.  Yep, send ’em a Happy Birthday Hallmark or a Congratulations on your Baby Boy or New Boat or whatever (and preferably signed by hand by the person who planned the party).  When that card arrives, they’ll relive their great experience all over again, put the card somewhere where other people can see it, and think that you care (because you do).  Remembering someone on their special day is a way to get them to remember you when it’s their turn to plan a party for someone else.


The party market is enormous, and it’s not that challenging for shows to break into, because folks are always looking for new ways to celebrate.  How do you start designing your unique experience?  Just think about it this way . . . what event in your life do you remember?  And what made it special?  And how can you incorporate that feeling into a package for your guests?

Those questions, were not rhetorical, by the way.  Comment below on what made your previous parties successful, and let’s learn from it.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)



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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.