The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB released their nine-month study of the theatre industry.
The chamber selected the London-based firm, Sound Diplomacy, in May 2019 to conduct the study.
According to a presentation given Thursday at a Tourism Community Enhancement District meeting by Shain Shapiro, founder and CEO of Sound Diplomacy, the study’s pre-COVID key findings are outlined by SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Some of the biggest threats and/or weaknesses highlighted in the Theatre Study include lost revenue due to partnerships with third-party ticket sellers, visitors’ preference for smaller theatres and the lack of genres represented in Branson’s live shows.
The following are some outlined highlights from the presentation:
–Live theater entertainment drives visitation in Branson.
–Branson’s live theaters have a big economic impact.
Branson’s live theater and music ecosystem creates 2,288 jobs, $44 million in earnings and $147 million in economic output.
–The local audiences only attend shows once per year.
–Lack of small, non-theater style venues to house low-production-value shows.
–For the younger (non baby boomer) Branson visitor, show content can feel dated and lack appeal.
–Gender wage gap: On average, men earn double what women earn in Branson’s live theater and music ecosystem, specifically in professional and supporting activities.
–Branson visitors prefer medium-sized and small venues.
Although Branson visitors prefer smaller venues, most of the existing theaters in Branson are larger in size, which often results in half-empty shows, which gives an appearance of an unpopular or unsuccessful show.
–Younger visitors, Gen X and millennials, favor alternative rock, hard rock, hip-hop and pop, which is not as prominent in Branson as country and Christian/gospel music.
–Visitors have expressed more interest in original music, yet many theaters feature music in the form of cover songs.
–Branson’s current theater audience is aging, and younger generations choose other entertainment options over theater shows.
–Competition from other attractions is resulting in the skipping of shows.
–Lack of public transportation to theaters.
–Poor walkability of the entertainment corridor, or “Strip,” which limits appeal to explore.
–Partnerships with third-party ticket sellers aren’t always mutually beneficial, yet continue being the main avenue for selling tickets.
The research shows that working closely with third party ticket sellers can negatively affect occupation levels of a show, and these discounts result in lost revenue.
The Theatre Study also includes recommendations that are broken down into four main areas: infrastructure, innovation, education and marketing.
An infrastructure recommendation includes restricting third-party ticket sellers from being able to use the labels “Welcome Center” and “Visitor Center.”
It further highlights how there should be a clear distinction between the official visitor center and a third-party ticket outlet. The study further clarifies that “the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act provides a stable argument that deceptively operating under false pretense is considered a malpractice” and is thereby unlawful.
According to a release provided by the chamber, this study is a direct result of the “5 in FIVE” initiative that the chamber has been working on since March 2019 with the Branson Show Task Force.
The task force is designed to oversee the comprehensive analysis of Branson’s “main driver of tourism” and is composed of 17 show owners and producers who represent more than 26 shows.
The full study focuses on:
–A marketplace analysis of Branson’s theatre industry.
–An economic review of Branson’s theatre industry.
–A comparative analysis of Branson’s theatre industry against other successful, like-minded live music cities worldwide.
–Recommendations and a comprehensive live music strategy to strengthen Branson’s theatre industry health.
Visit bransonchamber.com for the full theatre study and the community presentation given at the TCED meeting.