If you've been to a Broadway show recently, you may have noticed people in red shirts handing envelopes to theatergoers underneath the marquee. What you're seeing are TodayTix staffers delivering tickets to the customers who purchased them on TodayTix's mobile app. Launched in March last year, TodayTix is an app that offers last-minute discounted tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Just as startups like Uber and HotelsTonight are monetizing the demand for convenient services, TodayTix hopes to do the same in the theatre industry by betting on customer service and deals.
The ticket prices are comparable to TKTS rates, and customers can skip the lines by purchasing tickets via the app. Users select the date and time of the show and the seating area (TodayTix does not let you select specific seats) and an employee will meet you at the theater 30 minutes before showtime with your tickets.
I used the app to see Idina Menzel carry the show "If/Then" with her powerhouse lungs. I purchased two orchestra seats the night before the show for $214, which included a $10 service charge. As promised, a woman handed me my tickets outside the theater. We were seated on the right-hand side eight rows from the stage and I saved roughly $40 compared to full-price tickets.
While offering discounted tickets is essential to the app, TodayTix's founders, producer Merritt Baer and investor Brian Fenty, are also relying on the customer experience to draw loyal users.
"We drew our inspiration from what pioneers in mobile have done," Fenty told me. "We looked at Hotels Tonight, Uber, and even what Fandango did for the movie business and we were impacted by the way they enhanced their industries by offering customers transparency and convenience."
Uber, the company behind the taxi-fetching app, was valued at $18.2 billion last month and gave new meaning the value of convenience. "No one thought hailing a cab was a cool action, but Uber created an entire industry and brought private car drivers to a much wider audience," Baer said. "Hopefully we're expanding the theatergoing audience by making it easier to procure tickets."
In addition to letting mobile users buy theatre tickets, which other companies like Telecharge already do, the company is trying to differentiate itself through its customer service.
If a customer points to a better deal from a competitor, receives the wrong seat, or something else goes wrong, the company responds with a phone call or email and often a $25 voucher. And instead of just providing a QR code or letting customers pick up their tickets at the box office, delivering the tickets in person provides a personal touch, added Baer.
The company earns revenue mainly through its $10 ticketing and concierge fee. "Some think our pricing is high, but we're the lowest in the industry," Fenty said. "Our aspiration is to sell a lot of tickets that way in New York and also as we expand across the US and internationally."
TodayTix has raised $1.5 million to date and the app passed 100,000 downloads in June. Its services will extend to London theatres this fall and the app will soon include personalized features, such as changing the order of the show listings based on customer profiles, look-alike modeling, purchase history and other data points.
Scale could become a challenge however. It remains to be seen whether TodayTix will be able to maintain its personalized services and attention to customer service as the company and its user base grows.