Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery, offered support to the UK theatre industry by making available a £2 million promotional fund for a ‘2-for-1’ consumer ticket initiative, to enable theatres across the UK to encourage audiences back to theatres, and to invite new audiences to attend. We believe that this is the first nationwide consumer ticket promotion run by UK Theatre.
This fund would be distributed by UK Theatre, as it had direct contact with venues and producers across the country, which would expedite set up time for the initiative.
The ‘Love Your Local Theatre’ promotion was set up in a matter of weeks, from the first discussions pre-Christmas 2021, to theatres putting their promotional tickets on sale on 25 January 2022.
A promotional website, www.LoveYourLocalTheatre.com, was created in-house at UK Theatre, to act as a signposting hub for all interest in the campaign, and through a promotional partnership with TravelTime, visitors to the website were directed to theatres within reasonable travel distance who were participating in the promotion.
By all accounts, the promotion was a huge success, and the 97 participating venues ultimately benefitted from ticket sales of over £1m, which they arguably would not have had without this promotion. Venues praised the initiative and its ability to reach out to audiences at an otherwise challenging time for them post-pandemic.
“For many 2-4-1 ticket holders, the shows were their first ones back after the pandemic and many have booked for other shows now too.”
In order to give more venues the opportunity to sell more tickets out of their allocated fund of £16,500 (ex. VAT) each, the promotion validity period was extended to include April performances as well as March.
The promotion allowed us to fill a number of potentially unsold seats, without losing income, at a time when customer confidence is still not 100% after the pandemic. Following on from this, the offer helped us boost sales for some of the lesser known/’risky’ visiting company shows and customers felt able to ‘take a chance’ on something they might not usually.”
Over a third of participating venues sold 100% of their ticket allocation, and 71% sold over 50% of their promotional tickets, with an average of 710 tickets sold per venue as part of the 2-for-1 promotion.
In total over 60,000 tickets were sold, meaning 60,000 people returned to theatres across the UK as a result of the ‘Love Your Local Theatre’ initiative.
Over three quarters (77.5%) of participating venues attracted new audiences, which will have helped many venues at this challenging time, as some theatres had found that their core audience base were slow in returning to see performances.
“LYLT was a great offer to help entice people back into theatre. It enabled us to go wider with our targeted data knowing that people could take a risk on a show they were unsure of because the financial commitment was lower.”
95% of participating venues said that if a subsidy was available again, they would participate in a similar promotion.
“It was great and very welcome. We are now looking for a local sponsor so we can repeat the offer next year.”
Feedback from the participating venues was almost universally positive, and our venue survey indicated that local audiences had been enticed back to theatres, and to try something they might otherwise not have seen. Some venues also found that some audience members who had booked for Love Your Local Theatre performances had subsequently booked for other shows:
“The offer was useful in helping to draw attention to the fact our Spring season saw us back in full swing… I think for the sector as a whole it was a much needed positive / good news story.”
“The offer was significant enough to convince people at a time when confidence was still relatively low to take the leap and book a ticket. One of the big obstacles we have to overcome is rebuilding the theatregoing habit, and this offer helped achieve that for some people. It opened the doors to new audiences through the national promotional activity and attracted some local press attention as a result. Even if people didn’t book, it will have brought the theatre back into their awareness following 15 months of closure.”
For more information about the Love Your Local Theatre promotion, read the full evaluation report here.