Last week’s column stated what the Ole Seagull believes is a simple truth necessary to the economic success of just about every Branson show. That was, “The ‘Best Ticket’ a Branson show can sell is one netting the show as close to the box office price as possible, that is sold to the ticket purchaser prior to their arrival in Branson.” In recent years selling enough tickets, “Best Ticket” or otherwise, to keep from losing money has been a continuing challenge for all, but Branson’s most popular shows. A challenge that surely must have some of them asking themselves, “Is it worth the effort to keep on in the hopes that things will change?”
In answering that question, it’s easy to point the finger at the CVB and blame them for the position that many shows find themselves in. For what its worth, an Ole Seagull does not believe that CVB’s marketing of Branson shows is as efficient as it could be but, that said, it should be pointed out that the primary purpose of the CVB’s marketing effort is “promoting tourism in the district.” That effort includes all aspects of tourism within the district including shows, attractions, shopping, lodging, restaurants, boating, fishing, sporting events, and everything else that Branson has to offer.
Certainly the horrendous decline in the number of people attending Branson shows is alarming and should be addressed, but at the end of the day, there are two realities that individual shows must address themselves. The first is that a “political decision” has been made to focus Branson’s marketing effort on bringing a new younger demographic to Branson. An Ole Seagull would opine that it’s, on balance, more inclined to invest their money, and perhaps more importantly, their time, in things other than shows. A recent CVB report indicates success in bringing this demographic to Branson over the last two years during which time sales tax and tourism tax revenues have continued rise even as the numbers of those attending shows has dropped to historical lows.
So it appears, that while Branson in general, from a tax revenue perspective, is doing well, many of its shows, except for a relatively few, are not. “Sure Seagull and those ‘relatively few’ are the ones the CVB features in their advertising.” Again, although the Ole Seagull believes that Branson’s shows could be marketed more efficiently, were he selecting shows for advertising designed for “promoting tourism in the district,” he’d be picking most of the same shows that the CVB is using.
As he sees it, the CVB’s job is to bring people to Branson, which brings us to the second reality a show must deal with, “Why aren’t more people attending my show?” The simple answer is, “They choose not to.” For whatever reason, they choose to spend their money and time in Branson doing something else or going to another show. Now we can point fingers at the CVB and try to blame whoever for whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s no different for shows than it is for any other business in Branson. They must have a product that people want and market it so that enough people know about it and purchase it to keep them in business.
An Ole Seagull would suggest that show owners ask themselves this question, “Given the current demographics, my current show today, and my current marketing effort, if the CVB invested the effort and money to get the number of people seeing Branson shows back to its historic average, would my show be financially successful?” If the honest answer is anything, but an unequivocal enthusiastic “Absolutely,” an Ole Seagull would suggest doing one of two things; either make the changes necessary to be able to respond “Absolutely,” or, repeat after him, “Our Father who art in Heaven…”