Each year, around 750,000 guests travel to see one of more than 150 shows, which range from rock concerts, live comedy, movies, and musicals to private events. Broadway shows make up the largest share of these shows, accounting for around 60% of all shows. Fox leadership prioritizes ensuring a memorable guest experience for their visitors, enabling the preservation of both the theatre itself and its legacy. The theatre can seat up to 4,665 guests between its three levels, known as the Main Level (lower level), Mezzanine (middle level) and First Dress Crossover (upper level). Each level has its own lobby that patrons can visit. In this project, the team has focused on the Main and Mezzanine levels, as these areas handle most of the traffic.The current concession system for a Broadway show operates during a typical twenty-minute intermission during which guests may use the lobbies to access concessions, restrooms, merchandise, a smoking area, and the Marquee Club VIP area. Guests who are not in their seats by the end of intermission are not allowed into the theatre until the second scene of the second act. Management has the ability to alter the physical layout, number of open point-of-sale terminals, and other lobby features depending on the show.
Heavy congestion, confusion, and the inability to visit all desired services have caused concession experience survey scores to fall to 41/100, the lowest of all survey feedback categories and an improvement priority for Fox management. Thirty percent of these negative survey responses are linked to service time or congestion. The concessions capacity issue is confirmed when the current system is tested against the calculated maximum demand, 1,100. This baseline simulation was run in a scenario where there was “infinite demand,” ensuring all service points were fully utilized the entire time. From this run, the team saw that, even in an unrealistically favorable scenario, the baseline is only able to serve an average of 745(+/- 9) patrons within a twenty-minute period – an amount far below the maximum demand. These findings reiterate patron feedback: guests are forced to choose between services because there is not enough time to wait in line for all of them. From this analysis, the team was able to identify a clear objective, enhance the customer concessions experience by increasing throughput during intermission.
Our team had a two-phased approach for developing our final model. The goal of the first phase was to build out a complete baseline model of the current Fox Theatre layout. This meant using the blueprints of The Fox and security footage to carefully map out the lobby operations in Pathfinder (agent-based simulation software). We built out restrooms and concessions in our model and re-created the same patron flow through them based on the security footage. By comparing flow rates and concession throughput with the data we collected from the security footage, we were able to validate our baseline model. Phase two was focused on making improvements to the lobby layout in order to maximize throughput through concession services. We tested a dozen layouts that implemented mobile-ordering pick-up and re-arranged concession locations. After running replications of all of these different layouts, we were able to narrow down our designs (based on throughput) to two renovated and two non-renovated layouts of the Fox. The four final lobby designs were vigorously tested in a sensitivity analysis and detailed so that the Fox can be confident in implementing any one of them.
The team provided two main deliverables to the Fox:
A series of four layouts that improve concessions capacity and throughput by indicating ideal locations of mobile ordering pickup stations, identifying new concession service point locations, redesigning queues, and specifying signage/usher locations. These layouts can be implemented as necessary by Fox management as they each have different strengths and weaknesses, which allows for the accounting of many different situations.
A streamlined menu that reduces the service time required for completing concessions orders by 66%.
Value and Impact
The team believes the anticipated increase in customer satisfaction scores to be the project’s greatest value to the Fox. By improving throughput at the different service locations, the Fox’s overall ability to serve patrons during intermission will rise, and they could see a yearly revenue increase of $486,483. In addition to increasing concession throughput and revenue, the renovation provides value by alleviating congestion on the Mezzanine level, providing a flexible event space for the Fox, and increasing the capacity of the Main Level women’s restrooms. Lastly, the streamlined mobile ordering menu could further increase profit by $747,350 per year.