Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Strike: Economic Impact To Big Apple Overblown?

Strike: Economic Impact To Big Apple Overblown?

Depending upon whom you're listening to, the economic impact to New York City for each day of the Broadway stagehands strike has varied from a lowball number of $5 million (Crain's) to a whopping $20 million (source: Times Square Alliance).

Could it be that the real impact is considerably lower?

According to NY1, the city comptroller's office puts the impact way down around the $2 million mark and adds:

Some of the lost theatre-related business will be redirected to spending elsewhere.
All this leads me to ask, "Are out-of-towners abruptly cancelling their New York City trips because of Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) strike against The League of American Theatres and Producers?"

This morning's edition of New York's Daily News certainly asserts that they are:

The Broadway theater strike has found its latest victim -- travelers on JetBlue airlines have begun canceling flights to New York.

"We've seen a slight increase in cancellations [of flights to New York] over the last week," said JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Eshelman.

Eshelman said the airline doesn't ask customers why they are canceling a flight, but the five-day strike that has shut down more than two dozen of Broadway's most popular shows apparently has travelers rethinking their plans.
However, it should be heavily emphasized that the key word here is "slight."

I put my own earlier conjecture to the test to see whether travelers from afar are even giving a second thought to their travel plans given the strike (by the way, if you're not keeping up with London's West End Whingers on their Gotham spree, you're missing some truly entertaining, witty writing).

And guess what? I was wrong!

Yours truly has personally contacted 28 different travel agencies across the United States and found that while they were closely monitoring the strike, not a single one of their customers had cancelled planned visits to New York.

Typical was the response I received from one travel agent in Jacksonville, Florida, whose client not only had tickets for Mamma Mia! over Thanksgiving, but also planned to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular:

They are still planning on traveling to New York City even if the show they have tickets for is cancelled.
Another Florida agent told me:

We have clients (still) heading to New York for Thanksgiving. However, they are aware of the strike and know the ramifications of going when they are going.
One agent in High Point, North Carolina informed me:

We have people going on the 27th. Their thing is to see the Rockettes and the lighting of the Christmas tree. They do have tickets to Hairspray and Wicked. As of right now there are no plans to cancel.
An agent from Forest Lake, Minnesota shared with me:

We did just have a small group come back this weekend and they were blacked out on their Saturday night performance. They did receive a refund from the theatre and they readjusted their plans -– not hard in New York City.
She certainly has an excellent point.

Still another agent, this one from Carmel, Indiana, minimized Broadway altogether when referring to customers headed for the Big Apple:

We do have people going to New York over Thanksgiving. However, none of them were planning on seeing a show, nor has anyone cancelled. Most of our clients are going for shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
So while people might be disappointed that their shows are dark, tourists largely appear to be moving along with their New York travel plans and moving beyond Broadway. Perhaps they're thinking, "Who needs it?"

Are you listening members of The League?

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 14 November, 2007, Blogger Jim said...

This is completely true. We are booked to NY this weekend. Our Friday show is still playing (Young Frankenstein) and Saturdays show was canceled. We have already purchased tickets for another show on Saturday. Financial impact for NY because of us - zero. Financial impact for me because my wife shops in NY - $$$$. Weekend in the hotel without any kids - priceless!

At 14 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Jim, Glad you have a great sense of humor and thanks for sharing.

Enquiring minds want to know.... Which show has been fortunate enough to gain your patronage? And which show has lost it?

At 14 November, 2007, Blogger Esther said...

Wow, very interesting survey. In my case, while I would still have gone to New York in July and November even if there had been a strike, I actually extended my trip by a day on each occasion so I could squeeze in an extra Broadway show. In July, I went back Wednesday instead of Tuesday so I could take in a matinee of "Spring Awakening," and a couple weeks ago, I stayed until Tuesday so I could see "Young Frankenstein" on Monday night. Not only did I stay longer, I also spent more of my money, for food, hotel, etc., in Times Square than I would have otherwise.

At 14 November, 2007, Blogger E said...

This post is fascinating. Thank you for gathering all of this information.

At 14 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

E, I know we disagreed on these points, but as you can see, when I'm wrong, I'm ready to admit it!


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