Why All-In Ticket Pricing Could Give The Theater A Bad Name

I get it.

No one likes to select a seat for a show only to find that the cost for that seat is higher when you get to the checkout page.

Thanks, fees!    

All of a sudden, the ticket that seemed cheap turns out to be more expensive than you thought. 

And you feel icky.

When they see those fees, many customers hesitate before they click “Buy” (never good).  Some “abandon cart” right then and there (even worse). 

And even those who do complete the transaction, many feel a bit baited and switched.

Fees used to make sense. The place where you bought the tickets charges a fee to cover its costs.  After all, it’s not free to build and run giant e-commerce sites like Ticketmaster.  So if the show, artist or whatever was getting the ticket revenue – a small fee makes sense. 

Then in comes a whole bunch of other platforms that sold tickets, and what followed is a whole host of other and often higher fees.

The government to help protect the consumer by proposing an “all-in pricing” model.  In other words – WYSIWYG.  The price you see listed, is the price you pay.  No more nibbles of a few more dollars and cents from a customer’s wallet.

You can read more about this movement here.

As a consumer – I like it.

But as a Producer, I’ve got some quibbles.

Here are a couple:

Theater has a terrible reputation for its tickets being too expensive. By including fees, our tickets look even more expensive – even though a 3rd party is getting those fees. They can increase their fees and it looks like we’re increasing the price of our tickets.

We know there are natural pricing barriers to a customer’s decision to make a purchase.  For example, a $99 ticket looks a lot cheaper than a $100 ticket.  Well, if we’re now including fees, I can’t list a $99 ticket without giving up 10-20% of that in fees? The show nets less. We’ve lost the ability to price effectively.

Our customers deserve and need transparency. However, with all-in pricing, the event producer, hotel, or airline pays the price, while ticketing companies benefit.

Boy, I wish someone would look out for the companies that actually provide the product as much as they do the companies who sell the product.

What do you think would be a good solution that provides transparency but protects the 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.