How can we get people to see a show a second time?

One of the economic challenges of a long-running musical or play is that because it’s pretty much the same experience, it’s hard to get an audience to come back a second time (which is one of the more subtle reasons why it has to be higher priced).

It’s not like a sporting event, where each and every event is totally unique.  Nope, for traditional plays and musicals, we actually endeavor to make every event exactly the same night after night.

And then we try to run those events eight times a week for years.

So if you take our high prices and duplicated experiences, it’s easy to understand why getting an audience member to come back a second or a third time ain’t easy.

Obviously some shows tap into a repeater market, but I don’t care how wicked your show is or what in the rent it’s called, repeaters will never make up a majority of your audience.

Therefore, as I’ve written about before, you shouldn’t dedicate too much of your media resources behind trying to get an audience to come back.  You’d be better off getting that audience to encourage others to come for a first time.

That said, I got a direct mail piece from The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas yesterday . . . and they were trying to get me to come back (Hmmmm . . . I wonder why . . . could it be that my blackjack skills are not quite the stuff that make up MIT card-counting club movies?)

In the piece, The Venetian offered me a typical free Sunday – Thursday room (or a lower rate on a weekend), a discount on a meal . . . and, get this . . . a free John Madden video game.

I haven’t had time to play a video game since I signed on to produce Godspell, but for some reason, it got me interested in going back.

Now yes, a return trip to The Venetian will be a totally different experience (one can only hope – now I do know you always split 8s), but it still made me think . . . is there something we could offer to a customer apart for the usual lower priced ticket to get them to come back?

What about a free dinner at the restaurant next door?  Free CD?  What about the movie and/or novel upon which the show is based?  Or what about a free ticket to another show (You’d buy it from the other show – which would reduce your ticket price, but might be worth it).

Note to you that these ideas are all based on the concept that you have access to the names/contact info of your own customers – which we actually don’t have on Broadway (but should).

Again, I wouldn’t put major amounts of time and resources into the 2nd and 3rd time showgoer, because it is a difficult conversaion.

But maybe that’s because we haven’t found the right value-add for that audience?

What would get you back to a show for a second time?


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– 13 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Enter The Sunday Giveaway!  Win 2 Tickets to Traces Off-Broadway. Click here!

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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.