Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why Stand in Line for Cheap Broadway Tickets?

The New York Times has an interview with Victoria Bailey, executive director of the organization that operates the TKTS Booth. The Booth's long lines (for discount Broadway tickets) have always been an anomaly. If tourists are willing to stand in line hours in sauna-like heat, why not charge a higher price for tickets (and have shorter lines)? One answer: Fairness research has shown that most people regard lines as "fair" and higher market prices less so. The New York Times' Erik Piepenberg asked Bailey about the lines and got this:

Our mission is in large part to promote conversations about theater. You do that in person. The booth is kind of a town square. About 30 to 35 percent of people there are first-time Broadway attendees. There is anxiety about what to see. You hear those conversations within a few minutes of getting there.

It’s hard to believe because the lines are moving so quickly but almost every transaction involves a series of questions: “I’m interested in ABC show, but which show has the best seats or the steepest discounts?” There is an urban fellowship about that experience.

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