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In a business about tourists, are we forgetting the locals?

POSTED BY Ken Davenport 26 September 2011 5 Comments

When 65% of our audience is from “out-of-town”, there’s no question as to how we should overweight our marketing and product development strategies in order to achieve commercial success (if that is what you are after).

But does that mean you ignore the other 35%?  Certainly not.

We do a pretty good job at trying to get our local butts in seats with traditional marketing efforts like direct mail, email, etc.  And that’s all fine and dandy, but for some reason, I feel like we haven’t shown our locals enough love.

I’m from Sturbridge, MA, home of the infamous Old Sturbridge Village, which is one of those living historical museums set in the 1800s where people walk around saying, “I am the candlemaker,” or “I make cheese.” Anyone from Sturbridge can visit The Village anytime . . . for free.

I worked in Vegas for awhile, and many a casino (especially the ones off the strip . . . which is the Vegas equivalent of Off-Broadway), trumpeted better deals for Locals on food, drinks and more.

Why?  Because while tourists and out-of-towners may be the fuel that fills most of your gross tank, the locals are always around when the tourists run out.  Like, oh, I don’t know . . . September in New York City . . . or January . . . etc.  The toughest times of the year are when our tourists are gone, so shouldn’t we be doing more to get our locals to the theater?

We’ve got some promotions which are aimed at the local market, like 20at20 and Broadway Week, and they do quite well.  But part of me thinks we should be a little more obvious with our gratitude for our local citizens in the branding of these promotions.  There’s a pride that comes from being from “here” (wherever that is) and I think that audience would appreciate a better deal or opportunity than someone from out-of-town.

Because the moment an audience feels like you are paying them respect, they’ll in turn pay you respect . . . by actually paying you.

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