By Lily Janiak
Bay Area Performing Arts Spaces (BAPAS), a searchable database of performing arts venues and facilities, is growing by practically every possible metric! This amazingly useful tool, managed by Theatre Bay Area, Dancers' Group and Fractured Atlas, now lists 578 spaces—up from about 400 a year ago, with especially rapid growth in Alameda County. We also had 2,610 site visits in July 2014 (up from 1,891 in July of last year). And, in the first half of 2014, site visitors conducted 19,508 searches—over 6400 more searches than in the first half of 2013 (13,066).
These numbers tell us that the BAPAS database—which we've been building for the past three years, with the support of the Hewlett Foundation—is serving you better and better. But until now, a crucial figure has eluded us: How successful has BAPAS been in actually creating new rentals?
Previously, we estimated this success by looking at the number of times site visitors clicked through to a space's contact info, assuming that a visitor would take that step only if he or she were ready to make a rental inquiry. Even on that count, BAPAS has done swimmingly, with 156 such click-throughs just this July, up from 116 in July 2013.
Now that 25 spaces have added our free, streamlined "Book Online Now" feature, we have new—and much more telling—data on the number of rental referrals BAPAS is generating for its users.
(Special thanks to Joe Goode Annex, LevyDance, Little Boxes Theater, Studio 1924, the MilkBar, Zaccho Dance Studio, Alonzo King Lines Dance Center, Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, Bernhardt Studio, Kunst-Stoff Arts, Lux-SF, SF Playhouse, Smithwick Theatre, SoleSpace, Studio 12 Berkeley, Temple Isaiah Social Hall, the Body Academy Studio, the Lighthouse Berkeley and Transmission Gallery for being our earliest adopters of this feature. Y'all rock!)
How does the BAPAS "Book Online Now" feature work? When a venue adds the online booking option to its BAPAS profile, a "Book Online Now" button appears next to the listing. It's that easy! The "Book Online Now" feature allows potential renters to send a rental request directly to the venue manager in just a few clicks—no other website visits are necessary! This is similar to restaurant Yelp pages that let you make a reservation without having to navigate away to a new website. (Not that we theatre folks are going to tons of restaurants where you have to make a reservation, but you get the idea.)
This free option makes booking a venue rental much more convenient for everyone. It also gives TBA a dollar figure for the rental referrals BAPAS is generating for its spaces! This is still a very imperfect metric, of course, covering only a fraction of the bookings that BAPAS facilitates—because it's so easy to use BAPAS to find out about a space, but users are not required to book that space through BAPAS. (BAPAS users—this means it's super helpful if you tell rental managers you found out about their spaces through BAPAS!)
All this notwithstanding, we can proudly say that BAPAS has generated $16,585 in rental referrals across the 16 venues who've been early adopters of online booking. We believe this number will prove very telling as we chart it over time. More impressive, though, is the growth in this number over the course of 2014 (with a seasonal dip in rentals during the summer months):
Limited as these data are, they do show that 1) renters are using BAPAS to rent spaces, and 2) spaces who aren't listed on BAPAS—as well as those who are, but aren't using the "Book Online Now" feature—are missing out on potentially lucrative rental referrals.
We'll be excited to report back once we have more information. In the meantime, venue and space managers, you can list your facility and encourage renters to "Book Online Now" right here!
See you on BAPAS!