Monday, May 07, 2007

Tales from ticketland: Joseph Yoshitomi speaks

Quoth Joseph:

The ticketing nerd speaks!

So, believe it or not, there is at least one annual conference in which box office and marketing managers from all of North America gather to discuss the wonderful world of ticketing – how to build performances, buyer types, accounting codes, mailing list generation, etc… I've already caught your attention, I’m sure., the owner of ProvenueMax software (which Pasadena Playhouse and Major League Baseball, among others, uses to ticket all of its events) has asked me to present material on a new subscription package the Playhouse introduced last year. The package, popularly known as the “2+2”, included the last two shows of 2006 (Fences and SISTER ACT the Musical) and the first two shows of 2007 (Defiance and Cuttin’ Up). In the ticketing and arts world, this is a bit of a leap not only because it crossed fiscal years (an accounting headache), but also theatrical seasons.

The subscription package was one of our most popular and the percentage of people completing their subscriptions to the remainder of the 2007 season surpassed our expectations. While this is, in no small part, due to the upcoming shows including Can-Can, A Matter of Honor, and RAY CHARLES LIVE! – A New Musical, we think the package was a great introduction to those hesitant to fully commit to the theatre. By the current completion rate, many of these first-time subscribers are now turning into enthusiastic theatre-goers. Our hope is that by presenting this new type of subscription to other arts organizations, we can convince them to create subscription packages that answer to the demands of the ever-more discerning arts lover.

The conference will be held May 9, 2007 through May 11 in St. Louis. For more information, visit


Daniel said...

This is timely, given that the playhouse has just sent out their season renews (which, by the way, you haven't promoted here... I've already posted the proposed new season my journal with guesses as to which will win).

I have a few problems with the current season ticket process at the playhouse. First, it seems to come too early, barely halfway into the season. It's gotten earlier and earlier. It's also a large chunk of $$, hits the same time as other season renewals (Ahamanson, Cabrillo). It also never seems to put a deadline on the form (when it the last date, anyway), so one has to guess when to mail. I'd love it if those could be addressed some how (well, I understand the large chunk of cash).

As for the thought process of buying season tickets in general.. take a look at

Here's what I say:

I’ve been musing on season tickets. We currently have season tickets to two theatres: the Pasadena Playhouse and Cabrillo Music Theatre. We’re currently going through Goldstar Events for REP East, and I’m planning to use Goldstar for Valley Musical Theatre (if they go on Goldstar). Why don’t I purchase season tickets for the last two? Here’s my thinking; feel free to convince me otherwise.

Season tickets have the following advantages:

* You get the same seats each show.
* You get a savings off of the face value of the tickets.
* You have a fixed date for the show, and know well in advance when you’re going.
* You have guaranteed tickets for all shows.
* You help support the theatre more by providing advance funds for show production.

But are these really advantages? Let’s look at these again:

* You get the same seats each show. This factor is significant in a large venue, and if you’ve been improving your seats over the years. Thus, at the Pasadena Playhouse, where we’re 7th row, near-center, I want those seats. At Cabrillo, we’re 2nd row, top balcony... also good seats. But both REP East and the El Portal are small theatres, where the sight lines are good wherever you sit. Getting a season ticket seat won’t significantly upgrade the view. Note that (with respect to this reason) season tickets are worth considering for theatres such as the Taper/Ahmanson or Broadway/LA if and only if you want to see all the shows in the season.

* You get a savings off of the face value of the tickets. Typically, with seas0n tickets, you get a savings of 10-15% off the face price for the show. For more expensive theatres (especially those that may not list on Goldstar for popular shows), this can be worth it. When your ticket is $15, saving 15% isn’t all that much. Further, with Goldstar, you’re getting a 50% savings from the price. Yes, there is a $2-3 fee per ticket, but the saving is still significant over the season ticket savings. So, unless you expect sellout shows, the price may not save you much. Note that HotTix gets you $20 Orchestra seats for TaperAhmanson, but you are usually off on the far side. Still, they are often worth it, when compared to normal Orchestra prices ($80-$100).

* You have a fixed date for the show, and know well in advance when you’re going. This is both a blessing and a curse. As my theatre schedule fills up, I need to be able to pick the date, because shows overlap with other events. Different theatres have different policies about changing dates, and it can get hard when there is a limited run. Using Goldstar gives me the flexibility to pick a date that fits within my schedule.

* You have guaranteed tickets for all shows. This can be good if there will be a very popular show in the season. It can be bad, however, if the season includes shows you don’t care about. Sometimes you find a gem (we have at the Pasadena Playhouse), and sometimes you find a clunker.

The season ticket can also be structured badly. This is one of the REP’s problems. First, they don’t adjust the season tickets as they move later in the season. Although they have a FLEX Pass, it covers 6 shows... any they only have in their main series, so you have to go to the more mature series, which precludes getting tickets for all.

* You help support the theatre more by providing advance funds for show production. To me, this is the only reason to get season tickets. There is no counter argument for this, so the question is just how the other items offset things. Of course, one could always just make a direct donation to the theatre, most of which are non-profits anyway. That is probably better for both: they get the full use of the funds, and the donor gets full tax deductability -- and the choice of timing the donation to fit within the cashflow.

Just my thoughts...

Daniel said...

As blogger didn't do the link right, here's the post about the 2008 season:

Cybele said...

Well written article.