How New York City Tourism Helps to Power Broadway

The Importance of Understanding Tourist Audiences

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The Importance of Tourists for Broadway

In the doldrums of winter, many shows will focus on how to drive locals and suburbanites to fill seats. Sales initiatives like Broadway Week and Kids Night on Broadway are great ways to help alleviate these slower sales periods, but it’s easy to forget that tourists are still filling Times Square. New York City Tourism + Conventions have reported anywhere between 60-70% occupancy of hotels in the city – over 90% of 2019 benchmarks. With spring breaks around the corner and summer not too far ahead, marketers would be keen to focus on domestic and international tourists to fill seats. Looking at the final week of 2023 – where many shows that filled the theaters with out-of-towners were breaking house records or ending the year on their highest grossing week – tourists are key to even the newest shows’ success.

The 2022-2023 Broadway League Demographic Report, released in November 2023, noted that almost 65% of last season’s audiences were made of tourists. Even shows that were only four months into their run saw over 50% of their audiences come from outside the city and suburbs. Tourists are an opportunity for every show, but there’s a lot of hesitancy around putting media, press, and outreach efforts to this wide audience. 56.7 million visitors came to New York last year, and trying to reach even a portion of that audience can be expensive. The heavy lifting to reach would-be Broadway ticket buyers considering a trip to New York is often relegated to national TV appearances that can sometimes cost more than the sales they generate. Sites like TripAdvisor and NYC Tourism and Attractions are great partners when it comes to getting in front of potential tourists, but are those touchpoints the most effective when it comes to showing off what a musical or play can offer? Where’s the middle ground?

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How We Plan to Learn More

To answer these questions, Situation is partnering with Broadway Direct and The Shubert Organization to survey hundreds of theatergoing tourists about their recent trips to New York to see a Broadway show. The goal is to give producers, live experience marketers, and anyone who sells tickets to tourists a peek behind the curtain of purchase intent. Whether someone is seeing a show for the first time or if they come to the city regularly for theater, what drives ticket buyers to buy what shows and when? What can we as advertisers do to lean into trends that already exist — whether that is mapping out a campaign to align with a shorter buying window or creating content that cuts through the clutter with audiences that aren’t familiar with the brand of Broadway. These trends are key to understanding how to most effectively, efficiently, and authentically drive new audiences to come experience the magic of live theatre.

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