London’s Menier Chocolate Factory has introduced a pricing system offering tickets that are cheaper the earlier they are bought.
Under what the Southwark venue is calling its ‘dynamic pricing structure’, the theatre is also offering higher priced ‘premier seats’ located in the centre of the auditorium. Previously, the venue ran a flat-rate ticketing system, where all seats in the auditorium were priced the same.
Artistic director David Babani said the new three-tiered booking timescale – which is being used for its forthcoming November production of Merrily We Roll Along, offering tickets for £29.50 when booked before the end of the month – has been introduced to “reward” customers and offer the venue financial stability.
He said: “We have always tried to subsidise our ticket prices through our restaurant and various other things, to keep prices as low as possible, which is something we are very proud of. From our point of view, this was a way to achieve that even more. And unlike any theatre I can think of we are now lowering our ticket prices. I think the last time a big theatre asked for only £29.50 for a musical was four or five years ago.”
He added: “More and more people book later and later and that is very scary for small venues like us who rely on a regular audience and who only have ticket sales as income, and whatever we make on the bar and restaurant. So this was a way to reward customers and give us stability and security.”
Babani said he hoped the pricing structure would be rolled out for all future main house productions at the venue and that pricing would vary for every show, according to their individual costs.
For Merrily We Roll Along the theatre is offering standard seats priced at £29.50 when booked before September 30. After this, the price of a standard reserved seat rises to £33.50 when booked before November 16, when the show opens, and to £35 when booked between November 17 and February 23. All premier seats for Merrily are priced at £37.50.
Babani said that the £29.50 price currently being offered was lower than the standard price of a ticket for Pippin, the last musical staged at the venue earlier this year, which was £33.50.
He added that he was confident audience members would not be put off booking more expensive seats should they miss the cheaper booking period, claiming the increases were “far from punitive”.
Babani also said ticket take up was “significantly higher” for Merrily compared with booking for previous, similar shows. “People recognise the quality of casting [on Merrily] but also the bargain we are putting out there,” he said.