Is education or raising prices of Branson shows the answer to getting PBIS?

A recent news article reported that the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB did a study on what brings people to Branson and reported the results to the City of Branson’s Board of Aldermen (Board) at a recent meeting. The study’s conclusion, that “Branson’s Shows” is the Number 1 reason people come to Branson, should surprise no one, particularly readers of the column.

The Boards comments and reactions however, are surprising. Not so much in their expressed concern that, although there is all this interest in Branson’s shows, Branson’s sales tax revenue from the theatres and shows is down or flat. It is that they appear so out of touch with Branson’s theatre industry that they could even attempt to equate an “interest in shows” to any measurement of anticipated revenues to either the city or the many Branson’s theatres and shows struggling to survive or suggest the education of Branson’s shows and theatres relative to their pricing as a solution.

In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, as to any given show, it’s not the number of people interested in shows or even the number of people that come to Branson that is important, it’s PBIS (Paid Butts In Seats) as a result of those numbers that matter. As he uses the term, PBIS means “the ‘gross’ revenue generated by each ‘butt’ in a seat, that provides theatres and show owners with the major revenue source to pay performers, staff, taxes, operate theatres, costuming, sets, marketing, a myriad of other costs and hopefully, make a ‘net’ profit.”

The depth of the Boards disconnection from its shows and theatres was illustrated when one of the Board members said that the figures did not make any sense, that everyone who comes to Branson wants to see shows, “but no one’s seeing shows and there is no growth in that area.” May an Ole Seagull suggest that not everyone who comes to Branson wants to see a show and that people are seeing shows, but, at the end of the day, the PBIS isn’t generating enough revenue to show either sales tax growth for the city or ensure the financial viability of many of Branson’s theatres and shows as they hemorrhage financially.

“But Seagull, wouldn’t they have known that if they had read your column entitled, ‘It takes ‘PBIS’ for a Branson show to be successful,’ published in this paper and on line at on July 22?” “Probably so.” “Do they even read your column?” “How would an Ole Seagull know who reads his column?”

In what just might be the understatement of the year, Dan Lennon, Vice President Marketing & Public Relations, for the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB, after indicating there are some pricing and other issues said, “There may or may not be a correlation.” If the city’s sales tax is charged based on the price of a ticket how can there not be a correlation?

On second thought Alderman Booth’s statement, “Because I know we all have our suspicions that maybe some of the tickets are not bringing full market price” just might take the prize. What suspicions could a reasonable and prudent person possible have “that some of the tickets are not bringing full market price” if they have driven up the Branson Strip and observed the “2 for 1” ticket offerings?

What’s ironic is that one of the show and theatre owners suggested raising ticket prices. “What’s ironic about that Seagull? Higher ticket prices more tax revenues.” “That’s right, but what’s ironic is that the shows tickets are offered through a 2 for 1 ticket outlet?” “Well they would get 50% of a higher price?” “You got me there.”

Alderman Davis expressed the hope that Lennon could educate the theatre and show industry on how to price their tickets. Does anyone really think that the vast majority of those running shows and theatres are any less capable of determining the price of the product they sell than other businesses throughout Branson? They determine what the price of tickets is for each segment of their business, can elect to do business with resellers that will maintain price integrity or do business with those will “cut them off at the knees” and control all other costs involved with their product.

An Ole Seagull would bet his feathers that if a particular show does not have enough PBIS to be successful it’s more because of inadequate marketing or other factors that would cause people, consciously or unconsciously not to attend the show than ticket pricing. “Seagull, how can someone ‘unconsciously’ make a decision not to attend a show?” “Because they don’t even know it’s there.” “What if their prices were 50% cheaper wouldn’t that help?” “That’s a rhetorical question, right?”

Related Post: It takes “PBIS” for a Branson show to be successful

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