Predictions for 2016

With the New Year comes the opportunity to make some predictions about how the theatre landscape will change.

But first, let’s look back on my previous prediction – made here in January 2013 – that we would see the rise of Dynamic Ticketing into theatre.

Dynamic Pricing

It’s fair to say that Dynamic Ticketing is now here to stay, with most of the larger West End shows modifying prices and allocations day-by-day. However, I would argue that this is advanced inventory management, as it requires a high degree of manual intervention, and is based upon years of industry experience, rather than hard data. I haven’t seen much evidence of regional theatres using this innovation to increase ticket sales or develop new audiences, and anticipate that a ticketing system like Spektrix will soon be offering it. For Dynamic Pricing to work effectively in a way which doesn’t jeopardise sales but does increase revenue and drive new audiences, it must be data driven and not based on hunches. Firestation Arts have proven that this is a viable concept for small theatres but no one has yet made the wholesale leap in automating it for all performances.

Since writing my 2013 prediction, where Dynamic Pricing was predominately used by airlines and Amazon.com, we have seen it being used in other sectors from holiday homes (Airbnb) to taxis (Uber). Even new vocabulary, “surge pricing”, has grown around the technology. Anyone interested in the technology should read the extensive blogs which Airbnb have written on the topic.

Theatre remains ripe for Dynamic Pricing. We have a consistent product (the same show every night) with variable demand, and almost no repeat customers – a similar business model to that of Airbnb. Perhaps 2016 will be the year of Dynamic Pricing.

Predictions for 2016

Certainly this will be a difficult year for regional and touring theatre. Whilst the industry has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to continue funding the Arts Council, regional theatres continue to face threat from cuts to local council budgets.

Major touring musicals will take to the road, and regional venues will feel the squeeze on their other productions. With more of these blockbuster shows on tour and commanding higher-than-average ticket prices, families who might usually see two shows a year are choosing to only attend one. Hopefully touring theatre will continue to maintain it’s position in 2016.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is sure to dominate theatre headlines this summer, as Cumberbatch’s Hamlet did this year — both produced by Sonia Friedman. Whilst it will squeeze the number of available large West End venues, the free advertising which theatreland will receive through international press coverage and footfall is something we should embrace. Ken Davenport has written about how advertising for one hit show rises the tide for all the boats, and hopefully Harry Potter will be a good news story for theatreland.

Wishing you all a happy 2016.