How not to Turn Away Industry People who Turn up to See Your Show

Managing the unexpected – a case study
I was recently invited to see a new fringe play.  I get a lot of invitations, but cannot attend a large part of them.  However, I was curious about this play, and was looking forward to seeing it.
I arranged to take a friend who I often see things with, and we met at the appointed venue an hour early to catch up and have a drink.
I then went to pick up the tickets from the box office person.  It turned out that I was only down for one ticket, the performance was sold out, and since I was not going to go without my friend, that meant I would not see the play.  (I later received an apology via email from the producer, and the offer of tickets for another night, which I could not take up). 
It is very difficult to get industry people to attend fringe shows, so having someone actually turn up but then be turned away does your professional credibility no good at all.  Neither does it do much for goodwill.
Now, with a bit of experience or training, the box office people could have handled this much better and much more elegantly:

  1. It is extremely rare for a ‘sold-out’ show to be actually 100% sold out.  One option would have been to just ask me to wait for 5 minutes while they checked the other tickets and then given me one of the extra seats (it is important this is done with an air of ‘problem, what problem?’)
  2. A possibly quicker way would be to get the producer to cast their eye over the comps list – often they can tell at a glance if there is any slack in that list – or whether any crew members watching could be moved to another night.

This is common sense, of course, yet I guess it was forgotten with the pressures of the night and the inexperience of the box office volunteers.  It also highlights the need to train volunteers properly!

September 2010 (nl)