Confessions of a Broadway Ticket Phone Operator.

So, I know a guy.

And this guy happens to work for one of those companies out there that sell  Broadway tickets online and,  at least for now, over the phone.

When I met this guy and found out what he did for a living, I grilled him like he was a burger on the fourth of July.

“What do people say when you tell them how much the tickets cost?  What’s more important, getting the date they want, or the seat they want?  What kind of questions do they ask?”

It’s so rare for Producers to get to talk to our customers while they are making the decision  since we don’t control the point of purchase, so I took advantage of my new found knowledgeable friend.

And he was very forthcoming with his answers.

“I tell you what, Ken,” he said . . . “If you BUY me a burger (instead of grilling me like one), I’ll keep a running tally of the questions I get from consumers and give you a breakdown of the most common questions I get.”

Gold.  Pure gold.

And he did it.  And I got him that burger (a steak, actually).

And now, I’m revealing to you . . . for the first time anywhere . . . confessions of a Broadway ticket seller.   These are the fifteen most common questions/comments this phone operator received over a pretty good chunk of time (it was a pretty good sample size) . . . in the order of least asked to the most . . .

Ready . . .

  1.  “Can a friend pick up my tickets?”
  1. “Why is there a service charge/handling fee?  Can I get the tickets without paying that fee?”
  1.  “What’s an e-ticket?”
  1.  “How does handicapped/access seating work?  Do I need to prove that I’m disabled?”
  1.  “What’s a Premium ticket and how much is it?”
  1.  “Shows are never totally sold out.  What can you find me in the way of tickets?”
  1.  “Can a small child see in those seats?”
  1.  “Do you have tickets for (a show that is sold on another ticketing platform)?”
  1.  “Can you hold those seats for me and I’ll go to the box office and pay for them later?”
  1.  “What seats are better, X or Y?  I want to make sure I get the best!”
  1.  “What happens if (insert name of star) doesn’t perform that night?/What happens if ‘snowzilla’ happens again?”
  1.  “Where can I find a discount code?”
  1.  “What’s the phone number for the box office?”
  1.  “Are these seats partial view?”

And the #1 questions asked of this operator . . .

  1.  “Your site broke!!! What happened to the seats I was holding?”

Fascinating stuff, right?

It’s so  important essential to listen to what your customers are asking, because things you might think everyone knows (e.g. what an e-ticket is, or what happens if it snows) may cause for confusion in the market (this is why giant companies have software that records phone calls and has a computer analyze the conversations for similar words or phrases by the thousands . . . to find out what’s keeping their customers from completing a purchase).

It’s harder for producers to do this, as I said, but it’s not impossible.  Send surveys to your ticket buyers, pass out surveys in the theater, stand by your box office and eavesdrop, ask your box office to take notes for you.

Or just meet a guy and buy him a burger.

But tune into your customer’s challenges, and they’ll not only buy tickets faster, they’ll thank you for listening in the first place.

– – – – –

Interested in learning more about topics like this? CLICK HERE to join The TheaterMakers Studio, an online community, certification training program, and resource for playwrights, producers, directors, actors, and theater makers of all kinds!

Related Posts


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.