Without feedback, discussion, and critical responses from conducting surveys, creating theatre can feel like performing in a void. In reality, your audience is a crucial component to the success of your production and your company at large. 

That said, designing and sending out surveys should be integral to your production routine – just as expected as auditions, rehearsals, and tech week. On The Stage explores the benefits of theatre surveys and the basics: who, when, and what to ask, actionable goals to strive for, and insights you should gather. 

The Benefits

After a production closes, you may just want to sit back, relax, and bask in the glory of a job well done. But taking that extra step to send out surveys has a variety of benefits:

Surveys Grant You Valuable Insight

Post-show surveys gather patrons’ opinions, preferences, and insights. Armed with this data, you can better craft your showcases, meaning more resonance with your audiences, more tickets sold, and more money to pad your bottom line. 

In short, surveys help you strategically target your audience, learn what motivates them to purchase tickets, and understand how to convert patrons from one-time ticket buyers to season ticket holders and donors. 

Surveys Help Audience Members Feel Appreciated

A post-show survey shows your patrons that you want to learn about their likes and dislikes – making them feel more valued, especially if you make changes based on their critiques.

A person who feels valued, in turn, will also feel a stronger sense of loyalty to whatever person or entity instilled those feelings – in this case, your theatre. A loyal patron will visit your theatre more often, share your content, buy your merchandise, and, in general, passionately support your productions. 

Surveys Help Create Actionable Goals

Surveys aren’t all rainbows and butterflies, of course – they also give you much-needed constructive criticism about your showcases and your theatre’s general operations. 

After gathering the data about the lows, you can create a checklist of actionable items. Having attainable goals for future productions gives you and your team the momentum and motivation to aim higher. 

Surveys Encourage Critical Thinking

Post-show surveys also push your audience to think more critically about your production and dive deeper into its offerings. If you ask the right questions, a survey can help guests better understand your material, consider their likes and dislikes in theatre, and gain a greater appreciation for theatre. And as a performing arts entity, shouldn’t you always strive to foster a stronger respect for the arts? 

Who & When to Ask

When it comes to who you’re contacting for these surveys, the answer depends upon what you’re trying to glean from your audience. If you want information and feedback specifically about your most recent production, pull ticket buyer data only from that showcase. If you instead want general thoughts and opinions about your offerings and future showcases, don’t be afraid to send your survey out to long-term donors, one-time ticket buyers, social media followers, community members of influence, and everyone in between. 

If you’re unsure when to send out these surveys, it also depends upon your situation. If it’s a post-show survey, send it out relatively quickly after a show closes. After all, you want the production and its awesomeness to be fresh in a survey-taker’s mind. If, instead, this is a general survey about your company at large, consider sending it out during lulls in your season or times when your marketing efforts and engagement numbers need an extra push. 

What to Ask 

There are a variety of questions you can ask within your show survey – and none are wrong! We’ll explore a few subsets below. 

General Satisfaction 

The most basic information you want to ask in surveys is how your patrons felt about the show and their experience at your theatre. Open-ended questions can gauge a guest’s baseline first impression. Questions to include:

  • How well did the production align with your expectations?
  • How likely are you to attend another show with our theatre?
  • Were any components missing from the overall experience that you hope will be there for the next one? 

The Logistics 

While your production itself is the star of the experience, you also need to ensure your patrons had a smooth journey in seeing it. This means understanding how easy (or difficult) it was for them to acquire tickets on your show site, get them scanned, find their seats, purchase concessions, and the like. In short, you should constantly strive to make a better, more accessible, and inclusive experience for everyone; surveys can help. Some questions to address this include: 

  • How easy was the ticket-buying process – whether through the box office or the online portal? 
  • How smooth was your theatre entrance and ticket scanning experience?
  • Did you encounter any issues with accessibility or finding your seat? 
  • Do you have any recommendations on streamlining the ticket-buying or scanning process? 
  • Do you have any recommendations about increasing accessibility at our theatre? 

Themes and Content 

Getting more specific, you can ask your patrons precisely what they liked and didn’t like about your show – whether it was technical aspects, costuming, acting, sound design, themes, or the show selection itself. A few questions to ask:

  • Do you think the show offered relevant topics for audience members?
  • Did you enjoy the themes of the show?
  • Did you find the show consistently entertaining? 
  • What technical elements of the show did you like and dislike?
  • What types of shows do you want to see more or less of in our next season? 

Customer Service 

During the hustle and bustle of preparing to start your show, your box office team may have encountered customer service issues you didn’t know about. Now is the time to ensure your patrons left the show impressed with how they were treated during their time with you and that your front-of-house team effectively resolved any issues that arose. Here are a few questions to think about: 

  • How would you rate the helpfulness of our staff during registration, entry, and post-show exits?
  • Were your questions and issues resolved in a friendly, efficient, and satisfactory manner? (If applicable) 
  • Are there any ways our staff could better accommodate you in the future? 

General Value 

To gain an even deeper understanding of your audience, you should gauge their opinions about your theatre and its perceived value. In short, this is where you learn if your patrons think they’re getting what they paid for. Questions to include: 

  • Do you believe you received the best possible value for your ticket?
  • When watching the show, did you feel like you were watching a professional production? Why or why not?
  • How can we maximize value for patrons with our next show? 

What are the Goals?  

Ultimately, goals for a survey will vary depending on the theatre and its overlying objectives. But generally, some goals to strive for are: 

  • Better understanding of your audience members and their preferences 
  • Gaining knowledge about your theatre’s perceived value 
  • Improving your productions technically
  • Improving your productions thematically 
  • Selling more tickets 
  • Enhancing the front-of-house experience 
  • Enhancing the ticket buying and ticket scanning experience 

Types of Surveys 

Perhaps you want to start small with your survey offerings to ease your patrons into the experience. Maybe you want to go all-in with your first survey and get to the nitty-gritty. No matter your objectives, here are a few types of surveys you can implement. 


If you want to start simple, a “yes-no” survey is the way to go. This lets your patrons quickly check one of two boxes and answer straightforward questions about your production and the guest experience.

Pro: You will likely get more participation in this type of survey because of its simplicity. 

Con: You aren’t getting more than a surface-level understanding of your patron’s opinions. If you’re gunning for some nuance, add in some open-ended options. 

Multiple Choice

A bit more complex than a ‘yes-no’ questionnaire, multiple choice surveys allow patrons to choose from a set of predefined answers. These work best if you’re looking for specific information and answers. 

Pros: You can categorize your responses easily, and this type of survey will likely still garner strong engagement due to its simplicity. You’re also getting more nuance than a ‘yes-no’ survey. 

Cons: Since patrons choose from predetermined answers, you may not get your guests’ true or exact opinions. Additionally, your answers may not have the depth you want without open-ended options.  


Eschewing the simplicity of ‘yes-no’ or multiple choice options, open-ended surveys allow patrons to speak in-depth about their experience at your theatre without limitations. The questions you ask in this survey are crucial to mining the necessary information.

Pros: You’re receiving meaningful, nuanced replies that will help you better understand your audience members and tailor options to them. In short, you’re receiving actionable items to better your theatre! 

Cons: Since this type of survey takes time, you may notice a dip in engagement. Additionally, these surveys will take more time to analyze

Insights Surveys Provide

If you’re asking the right types of questions, all surveys should provide you with some or all of these insights: 

  • The kinds of themes and content resonate with your audiences 
  • Which components of your productions need work
  • How well your front-of-house staffers are doing their jobs 
  • How well your ticketing software, website, and show site work
  • How smoothly your pre-show routine is flowing 
  • The effectiveness of your marketing efforts 

How On The Stage Can Help

No matter the type of theatre you run, it’s important that you’re continuously implementing new strategies to better understand your audience and keep them coming back for more. 

On The Stage (OTS) is ready to handle any and all of your theatre’s challenges. Our revenue-accelerating features and workflows will enable you to engage with your patrons in more targeted ways.  

With OTS’s comprehensive Marketing Suite, you can:

  • Grow awareness of your program through social platform integrations, email marketing, targeted marketing campaigns, and show art
  • Increase conversion rates and sell more tickets through Broadway-style show sites or a customizable ticketing widget embedded on your website
  • Nurture and grow your patron base with ticket buyer outreach, patron relationship management, engagement tools, reports, and insights
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness by seamlessly integrating OTS with social platforms and marketing automation tools.

Partner with OTS today to learn more about your audiences and create a best-in-class experience for everyone. Book a personalized demo today to learn more.

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