What’s “damming” Branson shows, prices, marketing or …?

A recent guest column by Gaye Lisby entitled “Doug Gabriel – home grown, but no hillbilly here” was more about the allegation that a Branson show’s success has “more to do with who gives the lowest ticket prices to the timeshare ticket sales booths and discounters” than whether Gabriel, whom I consider a friend, is either “homegrown” or a “hillbilly.” The tenor of the column is summed up in its last paragraph stating, “If timeshare booths and discount sellers have their way, even family shows like his [Gabriel’s] where expenses are lower because his family works with him, will go by way of the White River, dammed again and again.”

On really! Why would time shares, discount sellers or anyone else benefiting from Branson’s shows want them to “go by way of the White River, dammed again and again?” OK so that was a rhetorical question because the obvious answer is, “They wouldn’t because, in the case of the discounter, they would lose the tickets they sell or, in the case of time-shares, they would lose one of the ‘carrots’ used in the marketing of their products.”

There’s a story told about a guy who staggers up to a beautiful woman in a bar and asks, “Will you go home with me? She looks at him quizzically and says, “No.” He then asks, “Will you go home with me for $200.00?” She says “No.” The cycle is repeated a number of times until the price gets up to $10,000 as which time the exasperated woman says, “OK.” The guy smiles and says, “Now that we know what you are lets renegotiate the price.”

“Hold on their Seagull, are you saying what I think you are saying?” “The Ole Seagull isn’t saying anything, he’s merely sharing a story relating to the price a person may or may not charge to go somewhere with another person. The bottom line is that the situation ended up where it was through an arm’s length negotiation of a series of prices that was either “accepted” or “rejected” and, as we left the story, was still in progress.

Branson’s shows, all of them, set and control the prices they charge for their product and who they do business with. No one puts a gun to their head and says, “Give me this price or I will pull the trigger.” Each show negotiates with individual timeshares, discounters, resellers and others through arms-length negotiations as to the price of the tickets they are selling. In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, if a show agrees to “fill seats for a pittance” that is a business choice they make and the consequences of such a decision, one way or the other, is solely theirs to bear.

“But Seagull, if they don’t take the lower price they will not have people in their seats and will go out of business. How’s that an arms-length transaction?” “About the same way as when the woman mentioned in the story above slapped the man in the face, said, ‘This is the thanks I get for humoring and tolerating your semi-inebriated antics, who do you think you are,’ and walked out of the bar.

Businesses, like people, make choices every day. It’s part of life and business. A show in Branson will not survive if “there’s not enough revenue to generate the funds necessary to pay performers, staff, taxes, operate theatres, costuming, sets, marketing, a myriad of other costs and hopefully, make a profit PBIS, (Paid Butts In Seats.)) Don’t blame the person or entity that buys your ticket for the price that you have set and the total result does not provide enough PBIS.

In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, PBIS drops for Branson shows in general and individual shows because, for whatever reasons, either consciously or unconsciously, people choose to do something else. It might be as general as the choice not to come to Branson at all; or, if they come to Branson, the choice to spend their vacation funds and time on something else rather than shows and even should they decide to go to a show picking one show over another.

Will price be a factor? For some, particularly the first time they come to Branson or see a show. However, in terms of PBIS, over the long haul, an Ole Seagull just has to believe that it is a combination of the “quality” of Branson’s shows and their “marketing” that will decide the future of Branson’s shows both individually and collectively.

“Seagull, what do you think of the marketing of Branson shows done by the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB in terms of helping Branson’s show industry with its PBIS?” “Well, Friday’s headlines touted “Tourism Tax Revenues top $8.4 million.” Could that be over 300% more in marketing funds than when the tax was first passed? What was the number of visitors coming to Branson the year the tax was first passed? Has that number gone up even 100% since that time? If you own a show does your show have more PBIS than it did then?”

But Seagull you didn’t answer the question?” “The answers to the above questions do, but just in case there is any doubt, he believes, as to Branson’s shows, that the current marketing efforts on their behalf is uninspired and totally inadequate to market them in the effective manner that something so vital to Branson’s past and future financial success deserves.

Related Columns: (Best context reading top to bottom):

Branson marketing genius or ineptitude?

Branson Marketing favoritism, big names and misleading

They are who they are, but does Branson’s marketing have to be what it is?


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