Theatre Staff Told: Be Friendlier!
Although the majority of theatre audiences are “happy” with the welcome they are getting in UK theatres, 31% of respondents to the Theatre Breaks recent Theatre Survey, said that there was room for improvement.
1757 theatregoers, who responded to the annual Theatre Survey, were asked to rate the welcome they got, to say what the theatre did to make them feel welcome and to say what they felt the theatre could have done better.
Smiles go a very long way to making a night at the theatre memorable. Whether it is at the door, the box office, in the auditorium or at the bar, a cheery face has a huge effect on the experience, with both its presence and its absence contributing strongly to the over-all feel of the evening.
However, it is not only the friendliness of the welcome that is important. Help in an unfamiliar environment is also appreciated, even amongst regular theatregoers. Help finding facilities, help with special access, help with general queries and help with getting to seats when arriving late – a contentious subject in other parts of the survey – are all mentioned as important to a good experience.
“These unsung heroes at the business end of the theatre industry are deserving of a huge amount of praise” says Simon Harding of theatrebreaks.co.uk, “but it is also clear that theatres need to invest further in this area.”
The challenge facing theatres is to maintain the welcome whilst getting a large number of people into a small space in a short period of time especially as “curtain-up” approaches. Whilst the survey did not measure “welcome” in terms of arrival time, one respondent commented, “Because we arrived quite early it was more apparent how friendly the staff were.”
The Theatre Survey is not meant to highlight a particular theatre's failings or successes, but to give practitioners an idea, of what works and what does not work, at theatres around the country.
In London, however, enough data was taken to give an idea of which theatres succeed with their welcome. So it would be remiss not to mention the Front of House staff at the Duchess Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, Harold Pinter Theatre, Queens Theatre and the Lyceum Theatre for their friendly welcome and a “job well done”.
Interestingly, these top 5 theatres include a mix of theatre owners, theatre sizes, shows and audiences, suggesting that it really is the staff on the ground who deserve the mention and the investment.
The findings are part of the theatrebreaks.co.uk Theatre Survey which took place during October and November 2016. Other subjects covered include the parts we want to play, the shows we want to see, audience behaviour and new ideas for improving the theatregoer's experience. More information is at https://www.theatrebreaks.co.uk/theatre-survey/
Press Contact: Simon Harding
+44 (0) 203 287 1808
Image: “The Duchess Theatre, the home of The Play That Goes Wrong – the most welcoming theatre in London's West End”