Whether you’re working on a shoestring budget or with something more robust, most theatremakers agree that more revenue would help bring more art to life. You can always sell more tickets, offer more programming, or host more community events. However, another way to grow your funding is through concession sales. 

When some think of concessions, stale hot dogs and lukewarm hot chocolate come to mind. But there are so many ways to elevate your concession game to get more patrons interested in spending money there, all while creating better and more memorable experiences for them. On The Stage explores a few ways to increase your theatre’s concession sales with minimal effort and maximum payoff. 

How to Increase Your Theatre’s Concession Sales  

Offer Happy Hour Deals

Happy hours aren’t just for restaurants and bars! Consider offering a time window for discounted snacks and soft drinks at your concession stand (but check the state laws on providing discounts on liquor if that’s something you offer). Not only will happy hour boost your concession sales, but you’ll also encourage patrons to spend more time at your theatre. This helps them learn more about your work and will help you cultivate organic networking opportunities. You’ll probably also see fewer late arrivals if there are deals for the early birds! 

Create Themed Concessions 

It’s no secret that people enjoy themed events and dressing up in general. (Who else’s favorite holiday is Halloween?) So why not harness that enthusiasm at your concession stand?

If you’re hosting events around the holidays, ensure you have festive food and drink options for your guests and deck your booth out with colorful decor. You can create themed goodies at other times of the year based on the show you’re running. Encourage patrons to come dressed up to fit your theme, and offer discounts or entry into a raffle to those who post their themed frock and your themed concessions on social media! Here, you’re increasing sales and engagement at once. 

Present Concession Add-Ons

Concession sales don’t have to only happen in person. Consider offering add-on concession sales by purchasing a ticket within your ticketing portal.

Say a patron checks out with a ticket. Have a pop-up window asking if they’d like to bundle the deal with snacks, drinks, or merchandise that they can pick up in a to-go window at the theatre. The only thing people love more than deals is convenience, and this creates both. This approach also helps to reduce lines in person as these orders can be prepared in advance. 

Offer Coupons and Group Discounts

Regarding deals, ensure you advertise combo discounts, group discounts, and other paired deals to your patrons. For example, offer a dollar off your total if you purchase both food and drink or a coupon to get a few bucks off your merchandise with the purchase of some popcorn. Just make sure these discounts are easy to understand and heavily advertised. 

And remember, these coupons and discounts don’t have to be major. Even a dollar or two off a total will encourage more patrons to spend. 

Present Concession Upgrade Opportunities 

This is another example of concession sales happening digitally. Present upgrade opportunities at the point of purchase, saving your patrons time standing in line. Whether this means pre-ordered concessions, speedy delivery right to their seats, or digital-only offerings that patrons can’t get once they arrive, make sure these upgrades are worth their time. 

Sell Merchandise 

Your concession stand is a great place to showcase your high-quality merchandise. In fact, this area of your theatre should be absolutely decked out with shirts, hats, mugs, posters, and other goodies you have on sale. 

Encourage your front-of-house staff to ask patrons about purchasing merchandise, food, and drink, offering bundle deals or discounts for in-person merch purchases. 

Market Your Concession Stand Well

Some patrons may accidentally bypass your concession area if it isn’t well displayed in the hustle and bustle of entering a theatre. Additionally, if your patrons aren’t aware of your offerings before coming to your theatre, they may hesitate to try them.

This is where marketing comes into play. Ensure you promote your goodies online and on social media, using high-quality photographs of what you’re offering and any enticing deals that may be on offer that week.

Visually, make sure your concession area is well-lit, welcoming, and smells delicious. Consider also adding signage pointing to the concessions in high-traffic areas of your theatre. 

Price Properly

We’ve all been ripped off a time or two with an overpriced soda or slice of pizza from a stadium – which has made us wary of buying concessions. Some have even opted to (gasp!) bring their own snacks in their purse. That being said, make sure your concessions are appropriately priced.

‘Properly,’ in this instance, doesn’t mean dirt cheap. After all, selling something at cost will make you zero dollars. Instead, do some research into how to price your items competitively, allowing you to remain accessible to as many people as possible while still increasing your revenue. 

Be Clear about the Food and Drink Policy 

Say your patron buys a large drink and some popcorn in your lobby, only to be hit with a ‘no food or drink inside the theatre’ sign before the show starts. This leads to frustration and, more than likely, a few refunds you won’t want to give out.

Make sure your food and drink policy is clearly stated on your website and at the concession stand. A great idea to make more money is to offer theatre-friendly cups and containers for an additional cost. This ensures your theatre stays clean and well-kept during shows while allowing patrons to bring their items into the theatre. 

On The Stage: Revenue Accelerators 

Whether you’re involved with educational theatre, a community theatre, or a professional non-equity entity, concessions and other revenue drivers can make or break your theatre budget. If you want to increase your funding through internal channels, partnering with On The Stage (OTS) can help. More specifically, OTS’s Revenue Accelerators will ensure your organization’s longevity through non-ticket revenue streams and optimized purchase flows, maximizing your customer lifetime value. 

With OTS Revenue Accelerators, you can:

  • Make it easy for patrons to purchase with a seamless purchase journey optimized for mobile devices
  • Create additional revenue streams without increasing ticket prices through custom fees, non-ticket add-ons, merchandise, offers, and upgrades
  • Target your patrons like a pro with filtered booking flows, patron relationship management tools that include custom fields, automatic tagging fed to MailChimp, Google Analytics, and Meta Pixel integration
  • Sell concessions ahead of time with dynamic add-on opportunities  
  • Expand your reach with streaming and video-on-demand performance options
  • Optimized Booking to increase conversion rates and create a seamless purchasing experience for your ticket buyers with a mobile-first focus

So, what are you waiting for? Book a quick 15-minute call today to get started.