who in If you buy a regular ticket at the Thalia Theater, you can sometimes take up to seven people to the theater for the reduced price of nine euros. The campaign continues until the summer holidays. In an interview with NDR Culture, Thalia Theatre’s commercial director, Tom Tell, reveals the background.
Mr. Tell, how did this campaign start?
Tom Tell: Towards the end of the season the work always slows down a little bit for us. The theater is always good between October and April – before and after a little weaker, that’s normal. At the end of the season, we then think about how to get people excited to go to the theater before the summer holidays. That’s why we invented the countdown: every week we count down from seven, six, five, four, three and say: “Hey guys, another five weeks and then there won’t be any theater for long!”. This is the activation that we do through the countdown.
In addition, we are still a little affected after the pandemic and we have to see people find us again. We also need to reach new audiences. Actions like this are always good. This works well for the price. Since we’ve already heard about the nine-euro ticket, we thought: This is a great idea! Then we join. Theater is a societal affair anyway and we want it to function as a meeting place again. Anyone who buys a regular ticket can then, depending on the week of the countdown we’re in, take several friends to the theater for nine euros each.
So the nine-euro Federal Government ticket was your inspiration?
until: We heard it and thought it was funny, so we decided to do it and make our own €9 class ticket. Because then they are connected differently. Nine euros – that’s on everyone’s lips now. On Wednesday morning I also tried to download the €9 ticket via the DB app. We started a little earlier, about ten days ago, which is great!
Perhaps a lot of people were too cheap the last time they were rehearsing in the theater. What is your first vision? it’s working?
until: It’s going really well! We sold 1,200 tickets for nine euros in the first ten days. We did not expect it to have such an effect. Because in itself there are many possibilities of reduction in the theater. But we’ve also noticed in the polls that people don’t really know it. As a student, for example, you can always go to the theater for 11 euros – except for premieres and other specials. There are also many other promotional quotes that we do. I always say: theater has its price, but you can take it down! In terms of communication, this is also a central strategy for us for the upcoming season! We want to say: everything is getting more expensive, inflation is increasing, theater is still cheap. This is the claim we made. The nine-euro ticket is the first step in dealing with this matter.
Many cultural organizers are currently complaining about the lack of an audience. Is the €9 ticket an attempt to fill previously empty seats in a meaningful way?
until: at all! It’s not like we’re doing a really bad job right now. In March and April we had a violent situation where Omikron went through the whole group and we had changes and cancellations. In the entire season, we’ve made about 100 changes in about 700 shows we do. Most of it is due to Corona. It also affects people when they try to watch a certain show for the third time and then it doesn’t work again because another actor got sick. Then at some point people lose interest in it, and you can understand that! That’s why we have to make sure we come back, and settle down again. I hope the Corona issue ends in the group. This was not funny. The past two months have been difficult for us.
Now we sell again between 600 and 1000 tickets a day on average. We have already started presales for the first highlights in September. On July 1st we’ll start pre-sales for September, October and November – so we can then take more with us in the pre-sale. Because this is also an effect that affects the payment process. If you only know what you’re playing for in the relatively short term and can’t plan for it, people won’t buy as intensely as when they have advance notice. Because we also found out empirically: in general, tickets sell out between three months and two weeks in advance. Short-term sales are somewhat rare – but that has changed in the coronavirus pandemic. Because people didn’t know what would happen in three weeks. We just hope to gain again through good preparation.
How important is it for the lounges to fill the air in the house, for the whole group? Does this also have a psychological effect?
until: Yes, of course! You play the stage for the audience and not for yourself..of course every actor prefers that the hall be full and that there are reactions. Actors always thought it was too scary to play a chessboard and then see the masked faces without any reaction at all. There is always an interaction between the stage and the audience.
Is this mathematically profitable for you with a nine-euro ticket? How is this funded?
until: We don’t fund it. Usually, if we make the calculations, after deducting all discount variables, we have an average net income of about 18/19 euros per ticket. That’s about half of it. But it’s also not a permanent facility, as is local public transportation. She has a specific marketing background to motivate people to come back to us. And just to revitalize the action in a different way at the end of the season. It cannot be a permanent situation, because we, like all other homes, of course depend on income and hope that things will go well again in the fall and winter, as we are used to.
It’s just a good price campaign, which is important to us because theater is part of the community. And if there’s one thing we’ve forgotten during the pandemic, it’s how we treat each other together. Meet up with friends and go out with friends. It can also be a contribution to do something together again, to meet each other together. Theater as a meeting place! The €9 ticket may be automated so it may help to repeat this more than once.
The interview was conducted by Anina Pomerenki.