The Price is NOT Right
I talk to a lot of people about theatre. And across the board there is one major barrier standing in the way of more people going to see shows. It’s not inconvenience. It’s not bad timing. It’s not a fear that they won’t understand the show. It is price. The tickets are way too expensive. So how do we get around this barrier?
Ticket prices are rising at a phenomenal rate. The first time The Lion King came through Australia in 2004, the average A-Reserve seat was $85.50. Now eleven years later they are charging a princely $150.00 for the same seat. But this isn’t just limited to Australia, The Producers set a new record in ticket prices charging £49.00 on the West End in 2004 and the average ticket price is now sitting around £99.00. And don’t even get me started on Broadway where The Book of Mormon’s average price is US$166.00 (with a top ticket price of US$477.00!).
While I might not agree with these price rises, it is simple supply and demand. There are enough people willing to pay these prices for the limited number of seats so the producers raise the prices to take in some more money. But there is one victim in this equation which could devastate the future of theatre.
$150.00 for an individual ticket may be manageable but think about it from a family’s point of view. Just for your average family of four, an outing to the theatre to see a family-friendly show (such as The Lion King) will now set families back $600.00, plus the additional handing charges. That’s $600.00 for two and a half hours of entertainment! Quite different to the $80.00 a family would spend at the cinema.
My love of the theatre started when I was taken as a child. I had such a fantastic time that I found ways to convince my parents and my grandmother to take me again! But what if this generation of children don’t get the same initial opportunity? If they never get that first opportunity to experience the theatre, then what will make them give this costly investment a go in the future?
There are families out there who desperately want to take their children to a live show but can’t justify the exorbitant price tag. So what is the solution?
It could be time to bring back the Under 16 discount. The parents would still be paying the full price but let the children in for a bit less. And if your finance team won’t buy this idea, think of the discount as an investment in the future. You have invested $20 now in a cheaper ticket so that these audience members will come back and spend a whole lot more in the future.
That is only one option. What about pricing matinees at a cheaper rate? The mostly attract children and pensioners as not many working adults can take a three hour lunch break to catch a show. Why not look at extending the family experience at the theatre with face painting or games before the show? That way a $600.00 investment for two and a half hours changes to three or even four hours. Why not package it together with entry to another entertainment offer? The last time The Lion King was in Australia, they packaged their tickets up with a Taronga Zoo offer which would be perfect for school holidays extending the experience over two days!
While it may be easy to assume that if people are buying tickets then they are the right price, it is also important to keep an eye on the mix. There are so many different opportunities for shows to investigate to ensure that these future theatre audiences keep coming because, quite literally, the future of theatre depends on it!
And what about those audience members who don’t want to pay $150 every time they go to see a show? I know that I don’t and I am assuming that you probably don’t either. Well, I have an idea for that as well which I will share tomorrow. But surprisingly this idea doesn’t involve dropping the ticket price which producers will be happy to hear!