There are many websites that either sell theatre tickets directly or have booking links that take customers through to ticket agents. For the best customer service I would always suggest using a website that has both online booking and a telephone booking help desk. Once purchased online or by telephone, your tickets will either be posted or available for collection from the box office. If collecting from a theatre box office, you will either need your booking reference number (as in the case for our customers), and/or the credit/debit card used to purchase the tickets. IF you have a problem, then a telephone number where you can speak to someone is often very important.
Many theatregoers are always on the lookout for a good deal and there are always special offers available for most shows in the West End. But where do you find these special offers? In the first instance, most of the official ticket agents will have the special offers showing on their websites, but ‘booking links’ can also be found scattered about the web.
Some individuals promote ticket special offers or bargains, with links to special offers being posted on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. I expect that most of these booking links go through to legitimate websites where tickets can be bought from official agents, but is this always the case?
One individual with booking links writes “I don’t sell theatre tickets”, and yet many of the links posted by them are affiliate links, meaning that there is commission paid on the purchase. What should be written is “I don’t sell theatre tickets BUT I do get paid a commission when you buy tickets through my links”.
As such, IF the tickets bought are genuine theatre tickets and the theatregoer ends up going to see a show at a bargain price then great. Personally I don’t like the underhand way in which someone implies that they are only promoting ‘bargains’ or ‘special offers’ out of the goodness of their heart, when in fact they are making a profit out of it. Why not be honest and above board about it?
If you want to know if a ‘link’ is paying someone a commission just hover your mouse over the link, and if it has the word ‘affiliate’, “awinaffid” or “id” in the link then the referrer is likely to be getting a commission. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the ticket source is legitimate.
Would you pay £90 for a ticket with a Face Value of £20?
During the past few weeks I have seen a worrying trend with regard to ticket sales for London shows, in that some tickets are being vastly over-priced for next summer.
I know the prospect of getting a special offer or discounted theatre ticket is something that many will be keen to find, and ebay can be one such market place where theatregoers go looking for a ‘deal’. But you don’t only get reduced prices on ebay!
At the time of writing and searching on ebay for “Billy Elliot” tickets, one “top-rated” ebayer has £20 Grand Circle tickets “Buy it now” for £89.99! They are even charging £5.45 for postage!
Yes you read that correctly…. £20.00 tickets (the seller even writes in the listing that the Face Value is £20.) The ‘justification’ for this price hike… is written in the text of the ebay listing “FANTASTIC, GOLD DUST GRAND CIRCLE – ROW K TICKETS TO WITNESS BILLY ELLIOT ON A SATURDAY NIGHT IN LONDON DURING OLYMPIC FORTNIGHT”
Gold dust? Our website has seats for this exact same show in the Grand Circle further forward than Row K at £35 with postage at £1.50, or collect free from the Box Office (there are likely to be many other suppliers who will have tickets cheaper than £89.99!).
Be careful who and where you buy theatre tickets from….
A couple of weeks ago we went to watch a top London show in the West End, and were seated with the show about to start. A group (probably a family) of four people went to find their seats and found that there were people already seated in them. Not a mistake by those seated, as they had correct tickets. The reason… both groups of people had the ‘correct’ tickets and a double booking had been made. It is possible it was an error by the theatre booking staff but were the tickets genuine, I don’t know; maybe someone selling the tickets outside the theatre as a ‘tout’ or booked from a scam. I don’t know how it happened but I do KNOW that one group of four people were left very disappointed having probably paid in excess of £200 minimum + travel costs and did NOT get to see the show from their chosen seats on the selected date.
How do you make sure that you are buying from a legitimate ticket source?
My advice for buying London theatre tickets is to make sure that your ticket source is a member of The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers. This may not apply to many Off-West End venues as they will provide the tickets themselves, but it does apply to tickets for all major West End theatres.
“STAR – the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers – was formed in 1997 and is the leading self-regulatory body for the entertainment ticketing industry across the United Kingdom, with many of the biggest names in ticketing as members.”
There are over 100 members of STAR, of which we are one of the 31 Full Members. Our ticket supplier, Encore is also a Full Member.
What does STAR do?
STAR operates within guidelines supported by, amongst others, VisitBritain, VisitLondon, the Society of London Theatre and the Office of Fair Trading.
As well as working with government and other bodies for the benefit both of consumers and the ticketing industry, STAR offers general advice and information on ticket buying and provides a dispute resolution service for customers who have a problem with their purchase from a STAR member.
Customers buying from a STAR member benefit from
- A means of differentiating reputable agencies and box offices from potentially less scrupulous ticket sellers
- The STAR assurance on standards of service and information from members
- Clear information about where and how to buy entertainment tickets
- An independent dispute resolution service
You don’t have to buy tickets from our website, but if you are looking to book tickets for a London theatre, then please consider having a look at the STAR guidelines. You might save yourself some money and also some heartache.
A member of STAR should also have a verification image on their website so that when the image is clicked a pop-up window will appear that reads “Membership Verified”.
My advice is, shop around for tickets from STAR agents and a supplier you can trust, knowing that your bookings are secure. Also, to get some of the best deals book well in advance of the date you want to go, as the ‘cheapest’ tickets will usually sell first.
I hope you find the above useful and please feel free to leave any comments about experiences that you have had when buying theatre tickets.
24th November 2011