It's the Economy Experience, Stupid
The familiar line from Bill Clinton's campaign around the economy should resonate with theaters, music venues, raceways and other ticketed forms of entertainment as venues focus on "the experience" to entice more patrons to the ticket window. Studies show that buying a new pair of shoes will never bring the same level of happiness than the time shared at Thanksgiving dinner among family and friends. It is the ability to impart an experience that gives venues a leg up over the retail industry when competing for consumer dollars.
How can your venue add to the experience of your event? Much like the ideas on FUNdraising discussed in a recent post, when considering ideas, you should consider ways to tie your event to a sense of nostalgia or draw upon your patrons' personal emotions.
One idea of entertainment as an experience has taken on a whole new meaning in an ongoing theatrical production in London. "You Me Bum Bum Train" by the Punchdrunk Theater Company takes ticket holders on a wild ride as they engage in roles of both voyeur and participant. The production refers to itself as an "experiential form of live art", and in an utterly different twist from watching a solo artist while seated among other ticket holders, you are it's only audience member, and 200 characters entertain you.
The show is shrouded in secrecy, so it's not clear exactly what goes on, but some details are known. Each participant is moved through a series of connected rooms of very disparate scenes via wheelchair and interact with the cast in delightful, surprising, or unnerving ways. The interaction is real and at times challenging, and with no rehearsed lines, your responses feed into the experience itself which culminates into being the true star of your one man show.
This is more than theater, and the results show. The reviews are glowing, and the success of the show--the year's fastest selling production at the Barbican Centre, may portend a new future for participatory theater, and certainly lends credence to the idea that we're all too happy to lay down money for a fantastic and unforgettable experience.
Improving the experience around your event should reign high when considering ways to draw a more passionate crowd with a powerful word-of-mouth following. We're trying to ferret out the unusual methods, and compiling ideas. Like "You Me Bum Bum Train", the zany, out-of-the-ordinary, and emotion provoking tie-ins bring in fans. We'll build on this theme in coming weeks and share what we learn. In the meantime, we welcome your ideas, so feel free to share.