Will Call And Other Things That Should Go Away Post-Pandemic

Nearly a decade ago, I published an article asking why the field still relied on using “will call” as the preferred name tracking prepaid tickets. Since then, not much has changed but that doesn’t make it any less of a barrier for ticket buyers.

For anyone used to buying event tickets on their smartphone, the entire notion of waiting in a line to pick up printed tickets seems bothersome and archaic to begin with; toss a throwback piece of nomenclature like “will call” into the mix and it is no wonder why new and infrequent ticket buyers find the live orchestra concert experience fraught with inconvenience.

Ticketing is especially fraught with barrier-building language beyond will call. Just think of all the groups you’ve seen that still use counter-intuitive seating section names like loge, mezzanine, orchestra, etc. Even the term “box office” feels dated.

When it comes to engagement barriers, Ceci Dadisman has published a few posts over the years that really drill down into this subject from the perspective of marketing copy, but it’s just as applicable to something like will call or seating section names:

As arts organizations, we are super good at creating barriers for engagement and attendance.

The number one way we do this is how we talk about what we do. Nearly every piece of descriptive copy we put out there assumes that the reader has an intermediate or higher level of knowledge about our art form or organization. The vast majority of people don’t.

But getting back to will call, is anyone out there using a different term? If so, I’d love to hear about what you’re using and how the change was rolled out.

Besides will call, what other barriers would you like to see go away?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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