Travel Adventure Documentary Magazine
Travel Adventure Documentary magazine
where filmmakers and exhibitors meet


Ralph Franklin Posted by Ralph Franklin in Blogs February 23rd, 2016
You’ve never heard of it, The Rule of Three?
Two celebrities die and the question is, “Who’ll be the next?” Two planes go down and you cancel your flight. The Rule of Three is one of those crazy phenomenons that have no explanation, it just happens.
There’s, also, “Third time’s the charm,” and the not so common, “Messages Come in Three.” These messages will come from three different sources and unknown to each other. They will focus on one subject. They can be personal or corporate. You’ll never know when or where they’ll come from, or who will be sending them. It can be bad news, good news, warnings, directions, do this, do that and can be about any topic, usually sparked by a question. 
TAD magazine was in its 32nd year of publication. It was late in 2010 and had just gone from hard copy to online. The editors were interviewing Omaha’s retired travel film showman/entrepreneur, Dick Walter. A question was put to Mr. Walter regarding the travel films circuit ticket prices, what should they be?  Walter’s answer: “Twenty-eight dollars, no less!”
Quite surprised at the answer the editors agreed, “Unrealistic.” The average ticket price at the time was around five dollars.
Unknown to the TAD team the magazine had just received the first, “Rule of Three Message.”
Then it happened again, in a TAD story on Burton Holmes, the father of the travelogue business. The editors were startled when Holmes sat up in his grave and with a very loud and clear voice said, “In today’s dollar, ticket prices to see my shows would be sixteen to thirty-two dollars.” and he laid back down. Holmes’ out-of-the-grave message came from a 1940 Burton Holmes flyer presented to the magazine by filmmakers Hatton and Won. The flyer had the ticket prices.
The third message came from Canada. Filmmaker, Peter Rowe had sent a brochure promoting National Geographic Live, NGL. The Society had just launched this new show and was filling auditoriums from coast to coast. The show was very similar to a travel film industry’s show: A filmmaker with his or her film, appearing “live.” The shocking part of the brochure was ticket prices, twenty to eighty-three dollars per seat.
Three messages, all from different sources and each unknown to the other. All were addressing one subject: ticket pricing. The Rule of Three was in play.  The message: Tell the 120-year-old travelogue industry, your ticket prices are too low. The story was published in a three part series under National Geographic Live Part 1,2 and 3.
What seemed “Unrealistic” to the industry was a light to one struggling series in Omaha, Nebraska. Strangely enough, it was the old Dick Walter’s travel film series. It had gone belly up in its 54th season and a new organization, World Adventurers, was trying to restart it.
They had kicked off with a mini series of four shows, to test the feasibility. The last of the four was about to happen. Raising ticket prices would certainly help, but it was going against the norm of low ticker prices, the industry had practiced for years.
The series needed advertising dollars and raising ticket price would help. At the time they were charging one of the highest ticket prices in the industry, seven dollars. What to do, the choice was hard, but in the end The Rule of Three’s message got the nod. Patrons were told at the fourth and last show of the mini series ticket prices would increase to $10.
The first surprise came when none of its patrons complained. The second was advertising started to pay off, new patrons were now attending.
Fast-forward to 2016, Omaha World Adventurers has reached a milestone in ticket pricing. A single admission ticket is now $15, halfway to, “Twenty-eight dollars, no less” spoken by Dick Walter in 2010.

Three giants in travel film industry, Dick Walter, Burton Holmes and Nation Geographic Live spoke to World Adventures: If you want to survive and again become a member of the entertainment industry, you not only have to be professional, you have to sell professionally. Your product must have value in the minds of the buying public, raising your ticket prices does it.

The Omaha series is alive, well and growing. World Adventurers promotional plan has worked so well, the team grabbed their shovels and opened another grave, the six years dead series in Yuma, Arizona... As the travel film historian, Stan Walsh says, "Stand By!"  



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