Thursday, January 24, 2008

Part of The Look is the Seams

In the beginning I outlined some aesthetic production rules for myself, and wherever possible, those I work with. That largely boiled down to not expecting the audience to simply give you credit for trying, and to make choices, not compromises (and later excuses) due to capital issues.

That extends to the front office. Technology covers a multitude of shortcomings given a little knowledge and skill.

Audiences thrive on comfort. No matter how you feel about that fact, it is a fact. You can do anything you want to comfort levels once you have them in the theatre, but before they get into the theatre? You need to make it as familiar as possible. (Alternatively you can chose to make it as unfamiliar as possible but you have chosen to limit your audience to avid fans and hoop jumpers).

Give them options. If they are internetters, let them order tickets online. Or at the very least reserve online.

If they are phone people let them call your box office. Don't have a box office? Grand Central.

Grand Central?

Grand Central.

I wanted to offer phone reservations for my current show (Transformations) and I didn't want to give the universe my home number or cell number and either be on duty until we close, or never answer my phone. So I researched solutions.

I started with Tossable Digits, which is a service created primarily for classfied ads and personals sites. It gives you a number to use for such things so you never need to give yours out. I was even willing to pay for it (so I could have a Real Number). But it doesn't allow you to record a voicemail for the Tossable Number it's really JUST a masking number for your phone line.

So Grand Central. Grand Central is such a good idea Google bought them.

Grand Central is the front end to cover the fact that you don't have a box office. It is a separately functional number that forwards to the number of your choice. So my Grand Central number is
(512) 524-3761.

That can ring through to my cell (and home and office), OR I set it to Do Not Disturb - it goes straight to voice mail.

That voicemail is saved on the phone AND it is sent to an email address as a .wav file.

So all of my reservations are sent to the same account and are all in one place. Given a wi-fi connection I can take reservations up until it's too late for them to get to the theatre, all without a dedicated second line.

I have five invites to Grand Central so if you're interested let me know. (they are opening the beta at a pretty good clip so you don't really NEED an invite if you have some patience.)

It seems to me that in general the theatre community at large is apathetic towards technology, at worst they are proud Luddites. Which makes no sense to me on this level. Technology can cover for the fact that you don't have money. So go looking for cheap/free solutions. The fact that you have to turn on a computer is not reason enough to avoid it.

The theatrosphere is not particularly technophobic. so tell me:

How has technology covered for you?

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