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#11 Haz

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 01:24 PM

i think for theatre fans (and by that i mean people who go to the theatre multiple times each year), it is pretty easy to discover deals, special offers etc

the biggest impact of rising prices is on, say, a family of 4 who might travel to the theatre once a year

for example:
4 x tickets for west end saturday night show at 40 (to allow that they might not go top price) = 160
10% booking fee = 16
trains (for example, from where i live) = roughly 150
accomodation (seeing as the last train leaves at 8.30 on a saturday) = 80
a meal before the show = 80
a programme = 8
4 x icecreams = 10
total = 504

that's two weeks wages from my point of view. it is obscene that ticket prices carry on rising and slowly but surely, the number of people who go to the theatre maybe once or twice a year will dwindle dramatically, and i think eventually that'll have an impact on the number of offers available for the rest of us.

for the most part, i rarely spend over 30 for a show. thankfully, now, i'm frequently in london for work so don't have to pay for my trains as much as i used to, but as someone who doesn't earn a huge amount, even 30 for an evening's entertainment is a lot of money (30 pretty much covers my fortnightly food shop). when you look at ticket prices with a view of what they cost in 'real' money (ie, what else that money would get you), you realise just how extravagent the prices are.
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Posted 17 February 2007 - 07:47 PM

It's a rip-off for out of towners who don't have knowledgeable access to the many deals out there. I haven't paid top price for a ticket for ages (Spamalot was an exception). I know what you mean Haz about living on a budget and how theatre tickets can sometimes be too much. I earn a bit more than you and would say that, yes, I think 60 is too much.

#13 Blue

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 08:16 PM

You are so right - it is an absolute rip-off for families coming into town to see a show.

I would love the West End theatres to publish grosses and costs so that we can see just how much money they are making.

#14 Matthew Winn

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 09:59 PM

QUOTE(M George @ Feb 17 2007, 11:41 AM) View Post
I see your point but the running costs of Blood Brothers must be hugely less that the running costs for Phantom yet prices are very similar.  It just doesn't seem right to me.

It's not "right" in the sense of fair, but that's the way things are all the same. The price is set according to profits, not costs. The business – any business – seeks to maximise its profits, and it chooses the price that gives the maximum profit.

(I'm now entering lecture mode. Apologies.)

Suppose you have 1000 seats to sell and the show costs 10,000 a performance. If you sell 1000 seats at 10 a seat you'll just break even. If you sell one seat at 10,000 a seat you'll just break even. Hopefully, somewhere between those extremes is a price that will bring in more than 10,000 for each performance.

Suppose again that you initially price the seats at 30 and find that you can sell 800 seats at that price (for a total of 24,000: a profit of 14,000). Now you do some research and find that if seats were priced at 50 you'd still sell 600 each night. Should you increase the price? Yes, you should: you'll be bringing in 30,000 and making a profit of 20,000. How about 60? Well, if your market research shows that only 400 people would buy tickets at that price then you'd be back down to 24,000 a show and your profits would be down to 14,000 again. So 50 is a better price than either 30 or 60.

On the other hand, imagine that further research shows that if the tickets were priced at 25 twice as many people would buy them. Should you cut the price? Absolutely not: you only have 1000 seats to sell, so your income would be 25,000 and your profit 15,000: well below the 20,000 profit you'd make from the 50 tickets. In a 1300-seat house, however, you should cut the price: you'd sell out and bring in 32,500 for a profit of 22,500.

That's how prices are set in all fully commercial enterprises, and the unpalatable but undeniable truth is that in the commercial world the one and only market that matters is the one that buys the product. To a commercial enterprise you are a wallet with some meat attached to it. That the meat has opinions and feelings never enters into the equation.

(Again, apologies for lecturing, but people seem to live in some fantasy world where companies care about their customers rather than their customers' money. For the record, I don't think it's fair either, and I'd love to see lower prices in the West End. But unlike many here, I recognise that as long as there are enough customers willing to pay high prices there is absolutely no incentive for prices to fall.)
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#15 M George

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 09:40 AM

QUOTE(Matthew Winn @ Feb 17 2007, 09:59 PM) View Post
It's not "right" in the sense of fair, but that's the way things are all the same. The price is set according to profits, not costs. The business any business seeks to maximise its profits, and it chooses the price that gives the maximum profit.

(I'm now entering lecture mode. Apologies.)

Suppose you have 1000 seats to sell and the show costs 10,000 a performance. If you sell 1000 seats at 10 a seat you'll just break even. If you sell one seat at 10,000 a seat you'll just break even. Hopefully, somewhere between those extremes is a price that will bring in more than 10,000 for each performance.

Suppose again that you initially price the seats at 30 and find that you can sell 800 seats at that price (for a total of 24,000: a profit of 14,000). Now you do some research and find that if seats were priced at 50 you'd still sell 600 each night. Should you increase the price? Yes, you should: you'll be bringing in 30,000 and making a profit of 20,000. How about 60? Well, if your market research shows that only 400 people would buy tickets at that price then you'd be back down to 24,000 a show and your profits would be down to 14,000 again. So 50 is a better price than either 30 or 60.

On the other hand, imagine that further research shows that if the tickets were priced at 25 twice as many people would buy them. Should you cut the price? Absolutely not: you only have 1000 seats to sell, so your income would be 25,000 and your profit 15,000: well below the 20,000 profit you'd make from the 50 tickets. In a 1300-seat house, however, you should cut the price: you'd sell out and bring in 32,500 for a profit of 22,500.

That's how prices are set in all fully commercial enterprises, and the unpalatable but undeniable truth is that in the commercial world the one and only market that matters is the one that buys the product. To a commercial enterprise you are a wallet with some meat attached to it. That the meat has opinions and feelings never enters into the equation.

(Again, apologies for lecturing, but people seem to live in some fantasy world where companies care about their customers rather than their customers' money. For the record, I don't think it's fair either, and I'd love to see lower prices in the West End. But unlike many here, I recognise that as long as there are enough customers willing to pay high prices there is absolutely no incentive for prices to fall.)


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#16 armadillo

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 11:23 AM

But the problem with your theory is that few shows sell out (even Equus which is a limited season and you'd think would be the hottest ticket in town, isn't yet a sell-out) - which is why there are so many discounted tickets and regularly scheduled offers like Get Into London Theatre around. Lots of people are discouraged from attending the theatre by the perception that it inevitably costs 50 (which means lost ticket sales in the future). I agree that standard prices are unlikely to come down but that doesn't necessarily make economic sense. For example, if you sell 10 tickets at 50 each that looks as if you make the same money as 20 tickets at 25 but in fact the latter is better because of sales of drinks and programmes.

But you're right in saying that as long as people play the the management's game by insisting that nothing less than top price tickets are good enough for them (a view that has been expressed on this board), management will continue to rip us off with there astronomical booking fees. Why on earth do people book through agencies which charge these?

#17 Paul

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 12:21 PM

Well said, Matthew Winn

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#18 Matthew Winn

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 12:31 PM

QUOTE(armadillo @ Feb 18 2007, 11:23 AM) View Post
But the problem with your theory is that few shows sell out (even Equus which is a limited season and you'd think would be the hottest ticket in town, isn't yet a sell-out) - which is why there are so many discounted tickets and regularly scheduled offers like Get Into London Theatre around. Lots of people are discouraged from attending the theatre by the perception that it inevitably costs 50 (which means lost ticket sales in the future). I agree that standard prices are unlikely to come down but that doesn't necessarily make economic sense. For example, if you sell 10 tickets at 50 each that looks as if you make the same money as 20 tickets at 25 but in fact the latter is better because of sales of drinks and programmes.

Yes, I did simplify a little to make the figures easier to understand. As you say, the show's income is more than just ticket price times number of tickets sold because merchandise sales add to the profits. The costs also vary: fewer tickets sold may mean that part of the theatre can be closed, reducing the burden of front of house and cleaning costs on the theatre's expenses, and understudies increase the show's running costs when they go on because they are paid a bonus.

But the point I was illustrating is still clear: the producers and investors are in it to make as much money as they can, and they will do whatever they must do to achieve that. Everything they do is done with that aim in mind, whether it's last minute discounts, price cuts, lengthy booking periods or celebrity casts. If cheaper tickets would result in greater profits then the tickets would be cheaper.

QUOTE
But you're right in saying that as long as people play the the management's game by insisting that nothing less than top price tickets are good enough for them (a view that has been expressed on this board), management will continue to rip us off with there astronomical booking fees. Why on earth do people book through agencies which charge these?

I don't know why people use agents with huge fees when they have no choice. I think perhaps they just don't realise that they're phoning an agent. Often an advertisement will just have a phone number and it's not until you use it and speak to someone that you discover who it is you're calling, and having reached that point few callers will back out and try elsewhere. There's no legal requirement for an agent's advertisement to advise people that they could book without a fee by calling the theatre directly, and I would guess that most people see an agent's ad that says the ticket is 53 and assume that this is the price of the ticket. It's only if they happen to look at the theatre's own seating plan when they turn up that they'll discover they could have bought the same seat from the box office for 45.

(I'm afraid I see agents as semi-legitimised ticket touts. Like touts, they buy tickets and sell them on for more than their face value in order to make a profit. The only differences are that the agents use a smaller markup spread over a greater number of tickets, and that for some reason this arrangement has the blessing of the theatres.)
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#19 clair

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 05:09 PM

I'm having to use an agent with astronomical fees because, unfortunately, a friend bought me theatre vouchers for xmas from them rather than solt - average service charge seems to be 10 per ticket! I sooo object to paying this that I'm waiting till something I want to see is available on offer through them - tickets are expensive enough without being ripped off like this.
Must remember in future to specify solt vouchers!!!!!

#20 Samantha

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 06:12 PM

I agree with much of what's been said.  Also to me there's two other issues

1) Perception of customers, those 'in the know' or with particular tastes will judge a show based on what they want to see.  However, there is the section of the market who will consider paying more to mean they are getting a superior product.  Now that is obviously not always the case, but there is the perception among some they need to be paying full whack to see quality.  If a show isn't discounting at all it does give it a certain qdos among some.

2)  Shows are deliberately setting prices knowing they will have to discount.  There are very few producers who can expect to sell out at face value (the obvious big hitters only), so the discounts they will be offering, showpairs, tkts, kids week, GITLT etc are actually considered when the prices are set.  I've had a producer say to me when we were setting up one show, if we set it at 40 top then at least we can hope to get 20-30 a ticket.  People believe the whole offers/deals promotions and makes them believe they are getting a deal, therefore more likely to buy than if that was their face value originally.  
It would take a west-end wide commitment to all reduce prices to eliminate this problem.

Also, I don't agree that cheaper tickets means you spend more in the theatre.  In London there is so much choice for food/drink, even if I have a ticket for 20 I am unlikely to repay the theatre by buying a glass of wine for 5 when I can buy one cheaper elsewhere.

I do believe prices are high and have not paid full price for anything for ages (although tempted by Spamalot).  Oh and I too would love to know where the 20 Billy tickets can be brought!




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