Since 2003, Broadway Inbound has worked with NTA tour operators to seat theater fans at shows in New York City, Washington, D.C., and other cities. For the last two years, the company has enthralled the Travel Exchange luncheon crowd with a song-and-dance revue of current shows — performed by cast members straight outta Broadway. Bob Hofmann, vice president of Broadway Inbound, answered Courier’s questions about how today’s travelers get connected to the theater.
NTA: You bring Broadway to NTA members. How do you bring NTA members to Broadway?
Hofmann: Good question! They come by plane, train and automobile. (Isn’t that a movie?) Seriously though, from the very start, my goal has been to better connect the travel industry with Broadway. The luncheon sponsorships are a strong component of that connection for certain, but there is nothing better than experiencing the shows in person — in full — on Broadway. For that reason, we provide as many opportunities as possible for operators to see shows, knowing that familiarity with the shows and the whole experience of Broadway will encourage them to provide that experience for their travelers.
NTA: How, then, do tour operators connect their groups to Broadway?
Hofmann: Our work with operators and their groups has changed dramatically over the years. It used to be all about helping the operators choose one show that everyone would most want to see. And that show — featured in a brochure — would help sell the tour. Today, though, it’s more about offering choice to the individuals within the group. When you have 50 people on a tour, you probably have 50 different opinions about what to see. We help operators provide that choice at wholesale rates. We still have full tours going to see one show, which is phenomenal, but with another group, we might send each member to a different show. Choice can really enhance the experience.
NTA: Tell me about the types of groups that come to your shows.
Hofmann: Students of all ages are big Broadway fans. And the senior market remains important for us, especially with choices added in. We are fortunate in that most travelers coming to New York City want to see a Broadway show or another, related, live performance. We work with so many groups—social outings of all kinds where the group has chosen theater for their family reunion, birthday celebration, or bachelorette party. (One of my favorite group types may be girlfriends traveling together.) Our groups can be domestic, international, young or mature. The common denominator is a desire to share in an experience — Broadway, off-Broadway, Radio City or a performance at Lincoln Center—for a very special occasion. It’s live, and there is nothing else quite like it … anywhere.
NTA: Do groups typically attend only one show?
Hofmann: Many groups attend more than one, and I mentioned individual choice earlier. I’ve seen an increasing number of operators that provide one show that everyone will see together and then, on a second night, individuals choose which show they want. However the operators handle it, the result is that many groups see multiple shows, and we love that. And of course there are always theater junkies who will schedule eight shows in a week. That’s what I used to do when I first started traveling to New York. I have to admit that satisfying my theater habit is made a little easier these days by living here.
NTA: What would you say to tour operators who are on the fence about packaging Broadway?
Hofmann: Jump off the fence and come talk to me about why you were up there in the first place! I think we can answer any questions you might have. Broadway is a unique destination within New York City. It’s absolutely electric, and most travelers coming to the city want to see a show. We want to make sure you can provide them with that experience.
Photograph by Naim Hasan
Interview excerpted from July 2017 issue of Courier Magazine