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Better Business at Hawai‘i Theatre

Joel Bradshaw
Wikimedia Commons

There’s a lot to juggle when the operation you run is an entertainment venue, a historic landmark, and a non-profit. PBN editor-in-chief A. Kam Napier has more on what’s new at the Hawaii Theatre.

The Hawaii Theatre recently announced that Gregory Dunn, former head of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii, is its new president. Dunn has been quietly working at his new job since last September and he’s brought a focus on business operations, information systems and marketing that has already enhanced the theater’s revenues.

In November, for example, the theater changed its ticketing system to allow for online sales and for tickets to be emailed. This long overdue update replaced a reliance on physical tickets which often led to long lines at the will-call window prior to shows. Dunn has also added a $5 restoration fee to each ticket to raise money for the theater’s needs as a historic building.  The years go by pretty quickly and kama‘aina may be surprised to be reminded that the theatre’s dramatic interior renovation is now 22 years old, its exterior renovation 14 years old.

Credit Joel Bradshaw / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Dunn says the structure’s depreciation amounts to $880,000 a year. For most non-profits, such depreciation on their building is not a major business concern, but in this case, care of the structure is a critical part of the theatre’s mission.

With its improved ticketing system and a more focused social media marketing strategy, Hawaii Theatre saw sales increase last November to $175,000, up from $44,000 the previous month. Sales in December reached $390,000.

Strong businesses are customer-focused rather than organization-focused. Dunn has set his mind on eliminating obstacles that keep people from going to the theatre more often. One of those is parking. The theater has reached an agreement with 1132 Bishop Street for theatregoers to use its parking garage and Dunn says soon, patrons will be able to reserve parking online at the same time they order tickets.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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