Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Groups to the Theatre [Guest Blog Post]

By: Marcia Chassagne

I became involved with the Auditorium Theater as a group leader through my work as a Jazzercise franchisee and fitness professional. As a Jazzercise franchise owner, instructor, and personal trainer, I come in regular contact with a large number of customers. In keeping with the Jazzercise slogan of “fitness, friendship, and fun” many of our students become life-long friends and travel, party, and just hang-out together. I began organizing outings and offering them to my customers at group rates. We started at the Auditorium in the mid-90s with a group to attend the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. We have returned annually with our group reaching as many as 75 attendees. In addition we have expanded our events over the years and now attend 4 – 5 different Auditorium performances per year. The Auditorium Theater has risen to the forefront as our primary venue for several reasons:

1. Great programming – a variety of top-level performances and talent

2. Wonderful group office staff – personable, easy to work with, and always accommodating to our needs

3. Attractive group office services – regular communication, good prices, other amenities

As a result, our group outings at the Auditorium have been a great source of fun, entertainment, and fellowship for all of our participants young and old. I would encourage anyone to join us as a group leader, and offer the following tips:

1. Know your group members. My regular contact with my group as their Jazzercise instructor, and often socially, provides insight into the tastes and preferences of my group and allows me to select the performances that are of interest to the group.

2. Make it relevant. Jazzercise is a dance-based program, so our main focus is dance performances. We used this basis to build the group and have since branched out to other musical theatrical, and related performances.

3. Test the water. When a performance is in question, I will circulate an “Are You Interested” list to our group to gauge the interest in the performance and to estimate the number of tickets.

4. Establish and communicate the group rules. Our group is aware of the ground rules, for two of our rules:
  • If you sign-up for an outing you have committed to purchase your ticket. If you must cancel later I will try to sell your ticket, but you are responsible if there are no other takers.
  • Seats are assigned to the group by the group leader on a first-paid-first-served basis, with adjustments made so that parties with multiple tickets can be seated together.
5. Start within your reach, then build – Start with a small reliable group, and then increase the group size conservatively as interest grows. It is much better to contact the group office for additional tickets than to be stuck with left-over tickets.

BioMarcia Chassagne - a Chicago Jazzercise franchise owner and instructor for 22 years. Certified personal trainer with a background in dance. Founder of her own dance group, the Jazz Connection.

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