How the Met hacks off its customersNews
David Rohde is fed up with being pitched to give money to the Metropolitan Opera:
Overall season occupancy reached 88% in Gelb’s first two years before the 2008 financial crisis hit. By the end of the last decade, the relative infrequency of sellouts as well as half-full houses for non-marquee operas pulled season occupancy down to a dangerous 67%.
Gelb and the Met appeared to attack this problem in exactly the wrong way. Every new patron that they did get seemed to become a “mark” for the company to make up the revenue gap.
Professional telemarketers started calling these green opera attendees as well as some more experienced patrons. They would begin the discussion by pretending to be interested in helping them select the next opera to attend. But a little probing — I received these calls several times — revealed that they were not really qualified to talk about opera.
What they were really interested in doing is lecturing patrons that “ticket prices only cover a fraction of our costs.” In one of these calls I even got a speech about that fiscal year’s $20 million operating deficit at the Met, as if that were my problem rather than Peter Gelb’s.
Then I’d hear a pitch/demand for an additional donation. It was often couched in the language of a membership in the Metropolitan Opera Guild, but it was a donation nevertheless. The donation price points matter here as well, as Guild membership doesn’t amount to very much in benefits, such as ticket priority, until at least the $150-a-year level….
Read on here.