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Street Marketing: That's the Ticket at TKTS
By: Tom Roarty
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If you have never been to New York City before, you may not understand the gravity of the Times Square area. It comprises some of the best food, entertainment, and advertising in the world, all condensed to less than two acres of land. With all the advertising there is to see to entice visitors of the area to spend what they can and then some, it is still word-of-mouth that gets those wallets open faster than anything.
Right in the center of the area is a TKTS booth. It is at this booth that anyone with money and a few hours to spare on high-traffic days can get some really great deals on play tickets. In one of the most simple and cost-effective marketing tactics, the theaters being filled by many of the people buying tickets from the TKTS booth are being done so through verbal endorsements. You mean it's not the awesome Spider-Man poster that gets the crowd amped up enough to take out a second mortgage to cover the high price of tickets, even at 40% off? Nope. It is the workers of the TKTS booth that have been invited by the theaters to see the plays and give informed decisions when asked about the shows.
Now I have been a frequent user TKTS for more than 20 years, but something clicked this weekend while I waited on line. Not knowing what I wanted to see, I actually listened to the employees work the crowd, asking what everyone planned on seeing. They were able to answer questions about every possible show being thrown at them. I had come to find out that employees get to see two to three plays per week so that they could talk about them. For the small price of that free seat, the result is astounding. The majority of people that do not go on the TKTS line to buy a specific ticket usually will take the suggestion of a TKTS worker.
As for my daughter and myself, halfway through our wait, we had every intention of seeing “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” until we started talking to the workers. After finding out what my daughter’s interests were, they suggested a play more suited for her. Like most people faced with making a luxury purchase, I “try” to listen to the experts. As hard as it is to may be admit, we saw “Bring It On” that night, which probably would not have been in my Top 20 choices. Was it a groundbreaking theatrical experience? Not at all, but I have to say, it was an excellent show and was described to us perfectly by the TKTS expert, A fun, entertaining theater experience that deserves more credit than what it will probably get, and for the price and available seating would be a deal compared to our first choice. Something we wouldn’t have known just by looking at the posters, no matter how cool they were.

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