SARASOTA — Theaters might be quick to tell patrons to shut off their cell phones, but now Asolo Repertory Theatre is encouraging patrons to connect with it — before the curtain rises, that is.
The regional theater is one of the first in the United States to use Microsoft tag technology to reach a new breed of patrons while engaging with current ones. The smart phone-friendly technology, which serves as a phone application, will offer special discounts and other Internet-related goodies.
“We’re always looking for ways to broaden our access,” said Darcy Ballew, Asolo Rep marketing director. “As smart phones are becoming more user-friendly and more people have them, we thought it was a good idea.”
Asolo Rep will partner with TagSRQ, a local economic development initiative whose goal is to stimulate new business via cell phones.
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The app will work through a special barcode-like tag placed on printed marketing materials like Asolo Rep brochures, posters, magazine advertisements and possibly newspaper advertisements, said Ballew.
People who have smart phones — which includes any kind of phone that can download and use applications — will be able to scan the code, which will connect them to Asolo Rep’s website, special videos, ticket discounts and other information.
Phone users can download a free code reader at www.GetTag.mobi, follow the directions and then scan any Asolo Repertory tag.
The app also can be used at Lakewood Ranch, which debuted the technology to the area. Candice McElyea, director of marketing for Lakewood Ranch/Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, said builders will use tags to showcase information on new homes. The shops and restaurants in Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street will participate, too. Sarasota’s Mote Marine also has plans to use the technology, McElyea said.
“We’re so excited to partner with organizations like that,” she said.
Ballew hopes the tag app will be fruitful for Asolo as it makes itself more relevant in the digital, high-tech phone realm.
“Theaters are constantly looking to connect to new audiences — that’s really our goal,” Ballew said.
“What we really have to do is broaden the appeal of entertainment.”
January Holmes, features writer, can be reached at 745-7057. Follow her on Twitter at @accentbradenton.