Just how long should you be on sale anyway?

When you’re doing an open-ended run, you have a decision to make the day you go on sale. . . how far out do you want to be on sale?

Conventional wisdom has always said to keep this window a bit smaller in an effort to force people to buy in the short term, and create some scarcity by making your ticket a little harder to get.

But I’ve never been a big conventional thinker.

I do believe in the theory of limited supply increasing demand, but I’m also a big believer in this theory:  when someone wants to give you money, you take it.

If a customer is willing to buy tickets for a performance of your show that is a year out, do you really think that you can convince him/her to go to a show that’s two months from now?  No.  Since 65% of our tickets are sold to out-of-towners, a lot of advance ticket buyers are vacationers. They’re not going to change their vacation plans because you don’t have tickets on sale.  They are just going to assume that you are closing, and buy something else.

And since it is getting harder and harder to get people to buy in advance, why wouldn’t you take a sale for a show that’s nine months out?  (If this were a traditional business, it would be even more advantageous to take the cash well in advance, because you’d be sitting on the funds yourself – but in the theater, the ticketing agency sits on the monies until the performance has happened).

Oh, and as soon as someone buys tickets, there is a little word-of-mouth seed that gets planted within that buyer . . . as he or she will want others to do what he or she has done.

What do other perishable inventory industries do?  Restaurants will take reservations a year in advance, and a quick search on Expedia scored me a flight to LAX next July.

In fact, that flight next year was a lot cheaper than the flight to LA I booked today for next week.

Hmmmmm . . .

And, in the worst of all possible cases, you announce closing prematurely, leaving some buyers with tickets for shows that won’t exist.  You can always try to exchange them to earlier shows, or you have to refund them.  Big deal.  Worth the risk if you get more advance sales.

Because it’s a heck of a lot easier to give money back then it is to get money in the first place.


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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.