Monday, September 30, 2013

The new Instant Arena in Edinburgh.

As people in Edinburgh are probably already aware, the old Odeon cinema in Clerk Street is about to be reopened as the "Instant Arena", an American style dinner show club. The person behind the project is Gerry Boyle, who happens to be the brother of Susan - not that this has anything to do with it.

What I don't understand is how he can think this makes financial sense. In an article in the Sunday Post he said:

"The venue holds 600 people and we’ll do two shows a night, so that’s 1,200. Tickets for dinner and a show will be £75 per person."

I sincerely hope his break even point is lower than 1,200 customers per night because there has never been a market for dinner shows in the UK. I have attended some, in the US and elsewhere, and felt distinctly uncomfortable with the whole procedure. You have a sort of dinner and a sort of show, but neither are what you might have chosen if you had a real choice and it costs more than doing both separately.

For example, this week I could have the pre dinner menu at Maison Bleu in Victoria Street for £15 followed by the most expensive seat in the house to see Paul Michael Glaser in Fiddler on the Roof at the Festival Theatre for £45. That still leaves me £15 short of Gerry's £75 - plenty for drinks and I might even be able to afford a taxi home.

Which brings up the other issue - transport. Where are people going to park to see these shows, or are they going to come on the bus? if they come by taxi from the suburbs that will add another £50 to the cost of a night out. So for a couple we would be looking at a minimum of £200 for a night out. That is a substantial wad of cash, and this is where the rubber hits the road. The people in Edinburgh who have that sort of disposable income are not looking for this kind of entertainment. If they were it would already exist. People with money will head out to a nice dinner and an evening at the Playhouse watching the latest touring production of a west end musical, or they might head out to the Lyceum to see a play.

People with less money might go to the theatre twice a year, but that's not enough to sustain the Instant so if he will need to cast his net wider than Edinburgh if he is going to fill the venue.

By my calculation if he opens 7 days a week for 360 days a year that's 432,000 tickets he has to sell in a year. Edinburgh has a population of 450,000. 31% of these are under 16 or over 65. His main market will be between these ages. That's a target market of around 300,000 people. They would all have to go once a year at least - and they simply won't. There is too much choice for entertainment in Edinburgh.

The only other venue I know of like the Instant Arena is the Sands Venue at Blackpool. I only know of it because a friend has performed there and at that time it had been struggling a bit to find its identity. They charge around £20 for a show ticket with a meal being extra - maybe £25 or so, plus they have the holiday traffic. Here is a link to a list of upcoming shows at The Sands. Its mainly tribute bands and would be difficult to sustain here in Edinburgh.

Unless he does tie-ins with local hotels and offers considerable US style commissions I think its unlikely Gerry can fill the Instant. His saving grace may be the other business activities he plans to run from the venue, this may be just enough to make it a work for him, but I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Time will be the judge.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Some useful online DNS tools

When I recently moved a few domain names from my web hosts name servers to my domain registrar's (Enom) I found these good online tools for checking the validity of DNS zone files and their propagation:

And finally: