Don’t Branson’s shows deserve a significant marketing voice in their destiny?

An Ole Seagull just has to believe that The Branson League of Theatre Owners & Show Producers” (the League) would answer that with a resounding, “Yes!” The League has requested the establishment of a Blue-Ribbon Task Force by the Branson Board of Aldermen, (the Board) repeatedly, both privately and during its public meetings. The basis of the request appears to be the Leagues dissatisfaction with not only the way that Branson shows and Ozark Mountain Christmas are being marketed, but that its feeling that the shows have very little say regarding that marketing.

The Ole Seagull, has written repeatedly of his opinion that the marketing of Branson’s shows is ineffective so there’s not much sense regurgitating that again except to note two things. The first is that it’s heartening, to see the theatres and shows, most dramatically impacted by the ineffective marketing, finally uniting and attempting to address their situation. The second is that although the League is taking this position, it is not a position taken by all theatres, particularly those bringing in the most revenue to the city.

Instead, as best he can, he would use the words and presentation of Sheila Dutton, from the Duttons Show, as she so eloquently and effectively stated her view of the situation at the November 8 meeting of the Board. After giving some background on their experience in Branson and the importance of Ozark Mountain Christmas, not only for shows, but Branson in general, she said, “A marketing rule of thumb is to spend 80% of you budget on your hot current market and 20% developing new markets.”

She went on to say, “This rule applies to our highest producing demographic as well. It is good to reach out to people not coming to Branson, but we should do it in a way that always makes our highest demographic feel appreciated and we should continue to cultivate them the most. Our seniors as a group have the biggest discretionary spending power of any group and they also have the most discretionary travel times and one demographic does not exclude the others…”

“The unique feature of Branson is the shows. They have the power to draw people from far away and they have the power to get them to come over, and over again. Our fifth national television special is about to begin airing across the United States. We have learned that it will bring in people that have never been to Branson from places as far away as San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Florida, and Maine. Hotels, attractions, beautiful scenery, sports facilities, roller coasters, etc. all help to make the experience here delightful, but people that we have been successful in bringing to Branson told us that they have these things in their states as well.”

“It is the shows that are the unique draw. A group of ladies from Australia told me recently that they have been going to New York, London, and Las Vegas for years; now their favorite destination is Branson. We just need to get better and better at getting the message out and we need the tax money that we generate, to help to do that in an effective way. In my humble opinion I do not believe that Branson has ever gotten really great at doing this.”

“One show owner told me recently that she felt like she was being taxed without representation. I implore all of us to come together in gratitude and recognition of the unique blessings we have had poured out upon this city to come together eager to listen to each other and to not take lightly what we have here. It will take years to add additional strong demographics to our tourist roster and as we work to do this, let’s not kill the goose that lays the Golden Egg.”

She concluded her remarks by asking the Board to form the Blue-Ribbon Task Force that had been requested “and to make sure that there are people advising them that understand the Branson show market.”

An Ole Seagull would confess that he is an absolute fan of the Duttons, marvels at what they have accomplished in Branson, and doesn’t know squat about Blue Ribbon Task Forces. For what it matters though, he would point out that that the CVB’s own data agrees with Shelia’s conclusion.

Its own Visitor Profile shows that when the survey group was presented a list of activities that were the primary reason for them visiting Branson, the number one choice, at 55.8%, was Branson’s Live Shows. It was two to one over the second reason! When presented with the same list of activities and asked to indicate what they did once they got to Branson, Live Shows was number one with 71.8% and shopping was number two with 65.5%.


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