The only constant in life is change. Things change and people change, but most importantly the way people communicate about things has changed.
Lately the biggest shift in theater has to do with the way organizations talk about the people who attend their shows. More and more, performing arts centers are phasing out the word “patron,” opting to call their customer’s “guests” instead. This reflects a similar change that took place in the service industry, which no longer calls the people it services “customers,” also switching their vocabulary to “guest.”
It makes sense that “guest” has become the accepted verbiage, since in both the theater and service industry you’re hosting the customer and making them comfortable—not unlike you’d do with a visitor in your home.
The word “patron” has its roots in Old French and is short for “patronus” which means “father” in Latin. It’s implicit meaning as a masculine word may also seem exclusionary to guests who fall on varying places on the gender spectrum.
Here are some things our clients and partners are exploring:
Does your organization still use the term “patron” or have you made the switch?
Does your box office and your theater lounge use different terms?
Would the people in your organization have a hard time transitioning over to a new phrase?
What are some examples of organization's you've seen that have made the switch?
Walt Disney World Resort is a big proponent of using the term "guest," can you think of any others?