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Online booking to open at 9am on all future booking days

Recent trials suggest that splitting online and telephone booking times creates a more stable experience for our customers.

By Jamie Tetlow (Former Head of Digital Development)

27 April 2015 at 3.18pm | 21 Comments

Thank you to everyone who has expressed their views on the early opening times that we trialled last month. Our news posts for the Friends Booking and General Booking days provided a rich source of feedback. While we appreciate that no timing would suit everyone, the majority of those who commented welcomed an earlier start.

Taking this feedback into account – but recognizing that for some 8am was too early – we have decided that future online booking opening times will be 9am instead of 10am. This includes all booking days, from priority booking for Friends of Covent Garden and students, to rehearsal and package booking, and our large general booking days. Booking by telephone and in person remains unchanged and will open at 10am.

During February and March of this year we have been testing the capacity and performance of our technical architecture and have made a series of improvements. The change that has most significantly reduced stress on our systems is the decision to split online and telephone booking; this is down to technology rather than audience numbers. Our Box Office Assistants use third-party desktop software to make bookings for customers, and this software interacts with the same database you are calling on when you visit our website. What we have discovered in the course of our investigations is that the software is very resource-heavy and that the activity of just 32 Box Office Assistants makes remarkable demands on our database, creating issues for online booking. Splitting the booking times has removed this issue.

We have considered customers’ comments about booking clashing with their commute, and office hours, and balanced these with our own operational requirements. We hope the new online booking time of 9am will provide a good experience for the majority of customers.

If you don't feel confident booking online or prefer to deal with our Box Office Assistants we will have an allocation of tickets set aside based on the percentage of customers who book over the telephone or in person.

Thank you for your ongoing support. We look forward to providing a stable booking experience for our exciting new 2015/16 Season!

By Jamie Tetlow (Former Head of Digital Development)

27 April 2015 at 3.18pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged Booking Day

This article has 21 comments

  1. Roger Holden responded on 14 May 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

    I attended a friends' focus group at the ROH recently. The clear view of all was that the booking time should be brought forward, ideally to 8 a.m. It was suggested that it was a bit early for your staff, to which the answer is that it is only a few days a year and your customers also have to get up early. I am retired so can manage the 9 a.m. target, but what about working people? What about the doctor in our group who has a surgery at that time? How would you like to be told by the doctor that your appointment is delayed because he has to book his opera tickets?
    You receive a massive subsidy from the taxpayer so you should show a bit more flexibility.

  2. Gabriella Jeffries responded on 14 May 2015 at 4:36pm Reply

    I myself am also retired but I completely agree with the view expressed in the article

  3. Christopher Howell responded on 14 May 2015 at 4:54pm Reply

    I think that the decision which has been made is entirely appropriate. It is a practical answer and a diplomatic compromise.

  4. Judy Corkill responded on 14 May 2015 at 4:58pm Reply

    I teach in a school so 8am is perfect. By 9am I am teaching and unable to book online until I get home at 6pm. This always means that the best seats have gone.

    Please think of us who have to work.

  5. How about a small poll on the friends section of the website? Go with what works for most people? Why not a weekend option? 0730/0830/1100/1300/1500/1700/2000 or leave as is?

    I'm sure some would want to do it early before going to work [0730]; I'm sure some work shift patterns or volunteer or can't do whilst at work because of antiquated IT access policies or some are commuting.

    The 1000 has always been awkward for me; and my preference is 0730 or 1500, but really knowing one can't please all the people all the time, go with what works for most? The tech should fit around what your customer want, not t'uther way around.

  6. Peter Harrison responded on 14 May 2015 at 5:44pm Reply

    I am semi retired and like many have had problems with booking. Many of us already support Covent Garden through membership schemes and it would seem reasonable to respond to peoples needs. I support an 0800 start as 0900 is in all probability even more difficult then 1000 due to starting work, getting children to school etc.Why not have a trial?

  7. Marie responded on 14 May 2015 at 7:01pm Reply

    Congratulations to ROH! I'd like French opera houses to be as efficient!

  8. Anne Marie Smulders responded on 14 May 2015 at 8:45pm Reply

    In Holland online booking for Opera and concerts starts at midnight!
    I donot think staff have to be there at all...

  9. Geraldine Wyllie responded on 14 May 2015 at 9:22pm Reply

    I agree entirely with Roger Holden's comment. There has been no 'real' compromise on booking time here at all. For those huge numbers of people who work and often either directly or indirectly support ROH, changing the time to 9am is useless given that the working day has already commenced by 9am for the majority! So you are STILL not allowing them reasonable access to the seats they would prefer to book. That is frustrating and stressful to say the very least and does not engender good feelings or indeed goodwill. In my opinion you really should be reconsidering an 8am opening.

  10. Mr Peter Annells responded on 14 May 2015 at 10:29pm Reply

    8am is practical for those of us who work, 6pm would be better than 9am!!

  11. David Churchill responded on 15 May 2015 at 12:14am Reply

    Oh dear! You will never please everybody. Just hope that when the website hiccups after I have filled my basket and the credit card is repeatedly rejected (as seems to happen quite a lot!) that there will be one of your endlessly helpful box office staff ready to make the technology work. And can somebody tell me how to buy Proms tickets when I am on a bus on Saturday on my way to King roger at ROH?

  12. Gavin Webb responded on 15 May 2015 at 8:34am Reply

    Please reconsider and offer 8am for on-line booking as those of us who work will have to wait until lunchtime at the earliest or the evening to book. It is only a few days a year for your staff to come in early.

  13. Patricia fisher responded on 15 May 2015 at 8:34am Reply

    Online booking starting at 6pm would definitely be more helpful for those of us who work.

  14. Alex responded on 17 May 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

    Looking forward to the 9am booking as reading these comments, people make it sound like NO ONE will be able to book their tickets. I shall be very satisfied with the seating selection! Seriously people, all you do is complain! How were you able to book at 10am thus far?! I look forward to the 9am start and hope the website won't be crashing.

  15. Michael Ho responded on 17 May 2015 at 4:37pm Reply

    Why 9am please? I will now have an hour and a half disadvantage as opposed to half an hour (former time of 10am). My first break is at 10:30am. I start work at 8:30am, I am in my car at 7:50am (like many others who work). What about changing booking to Sunday or 7:00pm?

  16. A M Baker responded on 22 May 2015 at 7:29pm Reply

    Please re-consider and make the start 8.00 or 8.30 (as for National Theatre).

  17. Peter Lewis responded on 31 May 2015 at 5:02pm Reply

    Always difficult to please everyone. For 4 times a year I plan well in advance to be online at the right time but for many there is no option. I guess even midnight will upset the night shift workers, not that there will be many able to get to a performance! I'm ok with any time you choose. Good luck ROH, there will always be complaints.

  18. Stina responded on 31 May 2015 at 5:12pm Reply

    It seems everyone has their own opinion, but I am not sure why 8am is favourite when everyone I know who works is traveling to work at 8am.

    I personally found the new trialled time of 9am made booking much smoother, technology-wise, than when it was 10am.

    My biggest bugbear is these days you seem so popular that getting tickets for certain performances on general booking days is getting difficult. Even if you are poised at opening time. And not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford to be a Friend. But equally, it is great to see more people appreciating what you do!

  19. Dave felton responded on 31 May 2015 at 5:33pm Reply

    Well no time will ever suit everybody. 9 am means I'll have to make an effort one day every three months to be near a pic at that time. It's not such a big deal.
    10 was better for me but it's only four days a year.

  20. M Liepmann responded on 31 May 2015 at 5:52pm Reply

    I would also hope for an 8 am start as it allows me more flexibility to book online. 9 am does not make any difference to me.

  21. Kevin F responded on 30 June 2015 at 10:03pm Reply

    Exactly! It's only 4 days a year. That's your only chance. Have more booking days with more flexibility. Spread the load and create more opportunities. Why push everybody into just 4 days?? Chaos, chaos, chaos.

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