An Ole Seagull just has to believe that, in all too many cases the answer is “Yes, but it gets worse.” First, the answer depends on one’s definition of “the Best Ticket.” As used in this column the Ole Seagull would define the “Best Ticket a Branson Show Can Sell (Best Ticket),” as, “a ticket netting the show as close to the box office price as possible and sold to the ticket purchaser prior to their arrival in Branson.”
Why is that the best? Let’s take price first. Obviously, every show would like to get the full box office price for every ticket they sell, but that’s not the reality of the Branson market, for many shows, if they want to put people in the seats.
Unless an Ole Seagull misses his guess, a lot of shows are not selling enough tickets, at the full box office price to fill 30% of their seats on a regular basis. This means, that to fill seats, part of their marketing effort involves discounting the box office rate; many by as much as 50% off and, obviously, netting much less than the box office price. For example, a large percentage of the people coming to Branson, head west on Highway 76 from the Highway 65 interchange and don’t get two blocks before they encounter a “2 for 1,” 50% off ,ticket outlet.”
Another concern is the second element of the Best Ticket, “a ticket sold to the ticket purchaser prior to their arrival in Branson.” As a show owner, ask yourself this question, “Who has a better chance of sitting in a seat in my show, the person who has purchased a ticket to the show prior to their arrival in Branson, or a person who is already in Branson and is yet to buy a show ticket, let alone one to my show?”
To keep things in perspective, it should be noted that the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB recently reported that in 2015, for the first time on record, fewer than 75% of Branson travelers have visited area shows.” The figure of 72% was down 5% from 2014 which was down 5% from 2013 and is about 8.3% below the 80.3% historical average.
Absent anyone being aware of anything that Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB is actively doing that’s going to change those numbers in 2016, an Ole Seagull just has to believe that the downward trend will continue resulting in even fewer people going to shows. That makes it even more persuasive, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion, that the best chance of any given Branson visitor going to any Branson show, let alone a particular one, is the one who has purchased a ticket to that particular show prior to their arrival in Branson.
For what it matters, he believes that the second best chance of getting a person into a seat in a given show, is the person who has been made aware of that show show prior to coming to Branson. That person is more likely to react favorably to your intercept marketing efforts, be it in this paper, rack card, or some other form of intercept marketing because of that awareness. Again, as a show owner, ask yourself this question, “If someone is looking at an ad for my show, be it the one out of a hundred cards in a rack full of cards for Branson shows, or an ad in the paper, is my ad more likely to ‘stand out’ to someone who already had a basic awareness of my show prior to coming to Branson, or to the person who has no clue my show existed prior to seeing the ad in Branson?”
It tears an Ole Seagull’s heart out to see what’s happening to our shows in the name of developing a new demographic, but wait a minute, is he dreaming, or is that Branson’s shows playing a fiddling duet of “The Party’s Over” with Nero?”