The TKTS Fast Pass seems sweet in the short term. But what about the long?

I love me an amusement park.  At least one day every summer, you can find me at Six Flags eating a funnel cake (although we simply called ’em fried dough back in Mass), and riding the rollers.

I learned a long time ago that the only way to get the most value for my money was to opt-in for the Fast Pass, which cost some extra money, but allowed you to skip the line, and optimize your day.

So imagine my excitement when I read this article in The Times advertising a brand new Fast Pass for our own TKTS booth!  I couldn’t wait to read the deets.

Here’s the scoop:

Anyone who buys a ticket at the TKTS booth gets to skip the line if they come back within seven days to buy another ticket!  That’s right!  Buy a discount ticket on Friday night, then on Saturday afternoon you can come buy another discount ticket without waiting in line!  And shoot, want to see a show six days later and only pay half price?  Come back and skip the line again.

This sounds amazing . . . for the consumer.

But for the Producer?

Standing in that long line at the TKTS booth is one of the few obstacles that people have in their way to getting those drastic last minute deals on tickets.  And we just removed it.  And ok, I guess I can somewhat buy the argument that perhaps we can get some people to see more shows while in town, but they’ll be purchasing half price tickets.

And the fact of the matter is, shows can’t exist . . shows can’t pay back . . . on half price tickets.  I can’t recall ever seeing a recoupment schedule that has a show returning its investors money at 50% off.

It’s challenging enough dealing with the proliferation of discounts all over the web . . . as if it wasn’t easy enough for folks to find them . . . now we’re going to make it easier?  As if a giant red structure that says TKTS smack dab in the middle of Broadway wasn’t enough.  You do know that tons of tourists think that’s just where you buy tickets for shows . . . and end up getting a deal.  It’s a ticketing oasis . . . and we just said, “Hey – come back anytime you want . . . why pay full price, when you can skip a line and pay half?”

Now, insiders tell me that one of the reasons for the Fast Pass was to educate folks that there are full price tickets now sold at the booth.  Not sure I see the connection, but if that’s the goal then why not . . .

  • List all the shows available at the booth, and on Broadway, and tell the consumer what the price is when they get to the window.
  • Eliminate the percentage off entirely, and just list the price available for that show that day.  Show A = $50.  Show B = $120.  There’s no longer full price or discount price, there is just the price.
  • Stop calling it a Discount Booth and just call it a Ticket Booth.

I realize this isn’t the most consumer friendly post, but just remember, this is The Producer’s Perspective. 🙂  And hey, I’m not saying eliminate The Booth, or get rid of discounting.  We need it.  But we need less discounting, not more.  And just making it easier for people to pay less, isn’t going to keep any of the thousands of people employed by Broadway shows working longer.

Remember, at Six Flags, if you want to skip the line, you pay for it.


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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.