Should Broadway Shows Offer a Guarantee?

Ask anyone in the online space and they’ll tell you that if you want to increase conversions, add a no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee.

And if you really want to turbo charge your guarantee, offer a 110% or more money-back guarantee.

The customer-centric philosophy of “satisfaction guaranteed” is what helped turn into AMAZON.COM.

But it’s not just online. Guarantees are offered at Starbucks, Marriott and more.

There’s one place where the satisfaction, love-it-or-your-money-back, does NOT exist.  And that’s Broadway.

Should it?

From a business perspective, I’d argue that it is MORE necessary on Broadway than in any other industry!  When a customer buys a ticket for a Broadway show they haven’t seen before, they are buying the absolute unknown.  Maybe they’ve seen a video clip or two, or heard a song – but in most cases, they have no clue as to what that show is going to look or sound like until they throw down the $150 or more.  

A Broadway show isn’t a Starbucks where you can take a taste of your friend’s frappuccino before you buy one.  It’s not a shirt you can try on in a fitting room.

Our audience is going into this expensive purchase mostly blind . . . and if they don’t like it?  They’re SOL.

Unless there was a guarantee. 

Guarantees close more sales.  It is proven.

So if we offered them on Broadway, would they do the same?

I think they would.  (I’ve tried them myself on a few shows, and not only did people appreciate it – but we had maybe one email asking for money back!)

So what are the arguments against it?

  • Will people take advantage of it?  (Not based on my experience)
  • Will it look desperate?  (If luxury hotel brands can do it, why can’t we?)
  • How do we police it?  (You make them send a letter or something – and honestly, most people won’t.)
  • Are we giving away money if we sell out and then someone asks for money back for tickets we could have sold? (Maybe, but it’s rare to have a completely sold out show these days – and I’d argue you’ll convert way more with the guarantee to make up for it – not even considering.)

Of all of the responses I’ve heard opposing any such wording on a show’s website or in marketing materials is the fear that it’ll look desperate.

I think that’s our ego talking.  What may feel like we’re “selling” too much feels like the exact opposite to the customer.

And when we’re asking them to get to a specific location at a specific time for a specific high-priced product, and they don’t know specifically what that product even is?  

It could only help.  

By the way – I will tell you this – whether you see it on the websites or marketing materials for the shows I produce or not . . . I will always have a satisfaction guarantee on my shows.  

What do you think about a guarantee for Broadway shows?

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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.