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  • Priority booking for Winter Season postponed for Friends of Covent Garden

Priority booking for Winter Season postponed for Friends of Covent Garden

Decision made to help ensure that future booking days will be trouble-free.

By Sally O'Neill (Chief Operating Officer)

18 September 2015 at 4.39pm | 55 Comments

Update: Details of rescheduled Friends booking confirmed [25 September 2015]

We have decided to postpone Friends of Covent Garden Winter Season priority booking by one week due to technical difficulties. This means that booking for ballet performances and events will open online at 9am on Tuesday 29 September and opera at 9am on Wednesday 30 September. Box Office telephone booking will also be delayed to the dates above and will open at 10am. Ticket exchange for Premium Friends will also be brought forward to Monday 28 September.

I would like to apologize for these changes and the inconvenience it will cause to Friends of Covent Garden. The decision has been taken following serious problems experienced by supporters earlier this week. The extra week will allow us to carry out extensive testing and take remedial action to help ensure as far as possible that your experience during future booking days will be trouble-free.

There are several technical areas we are still addressing. We first identified with our ticketing system supplier that there was a fix related to a recent upgrade that we needed to install. We carried out a range of automated and manual tests to ensure that the ticketing system was functioning as before the upgrade. Our supplier has now provided a fix and we are working closely with them to ensure this fix fully resolves the technical issues experienced by our supporters this week.

As a precaution, we are also checking for other potential issues in our website and ticketing system infrastructure as well. Thus, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel next week’s Friends booking days.

I would like to reassure Friends of Covent Garden that we have not taken this decision lightly, and we are working hard to resolve the current problems. Your support is very important to us and is valued by the entire organization.

By Sally O'Neill (Chief Operating Officer)

18 September 2015 at 4.39pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged booking, Friends of Covent Garden, Winter 2015/16

This article has 55 comments

  1. Alasdair Drake responded on 19 September 2015 at 8:00am Reply

    Why is the release now 9am? Historically 10am must have been a problem for many people already working. You trialled an 8am opening just once I think. I thought that was great. Many people work at places where access to ROH website is either blocked as personal and inappropriate use or so slow tickets are sold as you are selecting them. Of course some people will already be on their way to work by 8am, and no time will be perfect for everyone, but for them you'd expect tickets would still be available by the time they get there. Will a reversion to an 8am start be considered?

  2. Patricia selvaggi responded on 19 September 2015 at 8:29am Reply

    Sure it's not your fault. But I went to a lot of trouble to change a Dr. Appt from the 22 to the 29. (It can only be tues morn.) And now due to the 9:00 opening , I will miss it! 8 or 10:00 was at least doable!

  3. sally responded on 21 September 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

    agree.9 o'clock is worst of all worlds! I could do 8 but can't do 9! will miss it now..

  4. Terri Reask responded on 21 September 2015 at 5:29pm Reply

    Will Friends Rehearsal bookings also be postponed or us it just general programme bookings affected?

  5. Peter Harrison responded on 21 September 2015 at 6:06pm Reply

    I agree strongly about the above comments. It is also not the first time there have been serious problems when booking opens. 0900 is a dreadful time for most who work or have to get children to school. Earlier is generally better.

  6. Quite happy with the change personally as I'll be travelling on holiday on the 23rd so can get tickets on my return :)

  7. Nina Battleday responded on 21 September 2015 at 7:42pm Reply

    Time for me doesn't matter. RSC starts at 1000, National at 0900. What is important is that the system works. My last booking with the RSC took about 5minutes and the tickets were with me 2days later. And they are booking for a six month booking period in two theatres.

  8. nicholas hall responded on 21 September 2015 at 7:53pm Reply

    This is not the first time. For a major Opera House your inability to sort out the technical issues in managing an online box office is a disgrace.

  9. Pam Willis responded on 21 September 2015 at 7:54pm Reply

    Early booking please

  10. Roger Harris responded on 21 September 2015 at 9:24pm Reply

    ROH internet booking has been a problem for a long time, unlike most theatres - especially RSC as already mentioned. Perhaps other theatre methods should be looked at.

  11. John Simson responded on 21 September 2015 at 11:37pm Reply

    Why not midnight, it is after all meant to be an automated system. Fewer people will be at work, no school runs or office runs to contend with. Staying up a bit would be a small price to pay.

  12. enrico responded on 22 September 2015 at 8:56am Reply

    I cut my holiday short, because I was in a beautyful but without internet area.

    ROH is becoming more and more a boring shamble.

  13. Anita Crum responded on 22 September 2015 at 9:01am Reply

    As one of the apparently few people who has had no trouble with the on-line booking recently I am now worried that changes do not necessarily mean improvements. Also I would have appreciated an e-mail about the change of booking date - I do not check the website every day and only discovered the change this morning.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 22 September 2015 at 10:01am

      Hi Anita,

      Please be assured that we've made every effort to contact Friends ahead of booking - sending two emails (one on Friday and another yesterday). I'd recommend checking your Spam folder - you may need to approve us as a sender.

      Thanks,

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  14. Angela Coleman responded on 22 September 2015 at 9:04am Reply

    I am already unhappy at the lack of seats available for 'Friends' as there are so many levels above. Does this mean there will be even less available as the other categories will have an extra week of priority booking.?

  15. Bridie Macmahon responded on 22 September 2015 at 9:27am Reply

    If this happens again, please could an email be sent to Friends as soon as the decision has been taken? I only found this out when I logged on to book today, having got to work early in order to do so, and I made an appointment for the 29th yesterday that I would not have made had I known booking was now going to open that morning. Thank you.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 22 September 2015 at 10:01am

      Hi Bridie,

      Please be assured that we've made every effort to contact Friends ahead of booking - sending two emails (one on Friday and another yesterday). I'd recommend checking your Spam folder - you may need to approve us as a sender.

      Thanks,

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  16. Javaid Khan responded on 22 September 2015 at 10:00am Reply

    I hadn't seen this notice till today, and like many others had rearranged my diary many weeks ago to fit in to the 22nd/23rd September. Next week (at short notice) will now be challenging.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 22 September 2015 at 10:04am

      Hi Javaid,

      Please be assured that we've made every effort to contact Friends ahead of booking - sending two emails (one on Friday and another yesterday). I'd recommend checking your Spam folder - you may need to approve us as a sender.

      Thanks,

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  17. Geoff Earl responded on 22 September 2015 at 10:52am Reply

    I too have not received any emails - and, yes, I have checked my spam folder. Chris Shipman - I suggest you investigate this and find out why your emails have not been sent to us, rather than trying to blame the (alleged) recipients. I can't believe that ROH is still unable to get this booking system working properly.

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 22 September 2015 at 6:13pm

      Hi Geoff,

      I have been investigating the email issue you mention. We have found that customers on btinternet.com may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of sending these postponement emails. These temporary issues are flagged as 'soft bounces' in our email logs. Are you aware of any other recent late / missing emails? We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Paul
      Digital Producer

  18. Joanne Wood responded on 22 September 2015 at 11:53am Reply

    I've not received either of these alleged emails (and yes, I've checked everywhere), looks like I'm not the only one.

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 22 September 2015 at 6:14pm

      Hi Joanne,

      We have been investigating the email issue you mention and have found that customers on btinternet.com may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of sending these postponement emails. These temporary issues are flagged as 'soft bounces' in our email logs. Are you aware of any other recent late / missing emails? We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Paul
      Digital Producer

  19. David Johnston responded on 22 September 2015 at 2:46pm Reply

    I became aware of this delay entirely by coincidence from looking at the website this afternoon for research.
    Like everyone else I will now have to reorganise my schedule at short notice to accommodate the change and certainly have not received an email (inbox or spam).
    I understand that IT glitches can occur however a prestigious organisation such as the ROH should frankly, with proper management and oversight, be able to avoid them.
    I would welcome more transparency as to what is being done and encourage the Trustees to take a keen interest.

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 22 September 2015 at 6:15pm

      Hi David,

      We have been investigating the email issue you mention and have found that customers on btinternet.com may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of sending these postponement emails. These temporary issues are flagged as 'soft bounces' in our email logs. Are you aware of any other recent late / missing emails? We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Paul
      Digital Producer

    • David Johnston responded on 23 September 2015 at 10:22am

      For Paul Spear
      As far as I can tell other emails have been arriving normally. I finally received your 'second' email last night, the first has not arrived.
      I have now seen that you did post on Twitter about the delay on Monday afternoon - why didn't you do so on Friday afternoon when you first knew?

  20. Patricia Bennett responded on 22 September 2015 at 3:20pm Reply

    I dread every booking period, there always seems to be a problem. Can't a world renowned house sort its booking system out?

  21. Graeme Wright responded on 22 September 2015 at 3:29pm Reply

    As several people have noted this is a long running problem with booking tickets on your web site. Have you considered employing a different IT company? They could hardly do a worse job.

  22. Kerry Wedlock responded on 22 September 2015 at 4:24pm Reply

    I too did not receive either of the two emails which were supposedly sent. I did not know anything about the delay until I went online this morning to try to book tickets. I telephoned the Friends Office, where, after insisting that I had not received either email, and stating that they were definitely not in my 'spam' box (which I check daily), I was given the online booking email address to write to express my concerns. I received a reply suggesting that I contact my email provider! Now that I have seen all the above comments, I am at least gratified to learn that I am not alone. However, this does demonstrate, ROH, that you must do more to investigate this problem and ensure it does not happen again. You cannot fob us all off in this way! And yes, I too have an appointment next Tuesday morning which cannot be changed.

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 22 September 2015 at 6:15pm

      Hi Kerry,

      We have been investigating the email issue you mention and have found that customers on btinternet.com may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of sending these postponement emails. These temporary issues are flagged as 'soft bounces' in our email logs. Are you aware of any other recent late / missing emails? We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Paul
      Digital Producer

  23. Carol Schollar responded on 22 September 2015 at 4:24pm Reply

    If we're having a vote on the time to start the online booking - my vote goes for 10.00am. No time will suit everyone but presumably it needs to be during your office hours so that someone can sort out all the problems at the time. So, why not 10.00 am the same as the Box office opening.

  24. John Vickers responded on 22 September 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

    Can I add myself to those above who did not receive any advance notification about the postponement. I found out at 9.00 this morning. I have however just received an Important Announcement email timed at 13.34 yesterday. The wonders of technology! 27 hours to reach me, and no sign of the Friday email.

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 22 September 2015 at 6:16pm

      Hi John,

      We have been investigating the email issue you mention and have found that customers on btinternet.com may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of sending these postponement emails. These temporary issues are flagged as 'soft bounces' in our email logs. Are you aware of any other recent late / missing emails? We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Paul
      Digital Producer

  25. Nina Battleday responded on 22 September 2015 at 6:05pm Reply

    No emails received by me either, although I have just received the Friends newsletter,giving details of cast changes for Two Pigeons. When so many people failed to get the email about the delay of booking it would point to some sort of problem-obviously something needs to be sorted out pretty urgently.

  26. Marian Brown responded on 22 September 2015 at 9:41pm Reply

    I have received no mail from you about this booking delay . I only found out as I was just checking ready for booking tomorrow. As already stated we like many others have organised to be ready for tomorrow morning. That is the whole purpose of becoming a friend. The week after I will be away . You obviously have no idea how your customers organise their lives around your booking dates . I am very disappointed, I had promised to take a friend but probably will have to let them down , just as you are letting us down.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 22 September 2015 at 9:46pm

      Hi Marian,

      We have been investigating the email issue you mention and have found that customers on btinternet.com may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of sending these postponement emails. These temporary issues are flagged as 'soft bounces' in our email logs. Are you aware of any other recent late / missing emails? We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Chris
      Content Producer

  27. Bridie Macmahon responded on 22 September 2015 at 10:14pm Reply

    Just to confirm that I did not receive any emails from you until this evening (Tuesday 22nd) when I received two messages; I have had no problems with receiving any other emails during this period (and I normally receive your emails promptly).

  28. Joanna Vignoles responded on 23 September 2015 at 7:27am Reply

    Dear Chris,

    I confirm that the first I knew of the postponement was when I received your update message last night 22 september at 23.09. Your original notification message which you dated 18 September at 16.59 was not actually delivered until 12.24am on 23 Sept ie September, ie after midnight last night.

  29. John Corrie responded on 23 September 2015 at 8:21am Reply

    I'm one of the many who did not receive the "change of date" emails (and they are not in my spam box either), although yesterday I did receive a reminder that I'm coming to ROH on Saturday for a performance of "Orpheus et Eurydice". No doubt there will be some explanation that reminder emails are different to change of date emails but for the non-techie person it seems inexplicable. To be fair, I can remember only one previous occasion when the site has crashed since the online booking was improved to do away with the old prolonged consignment to a "Waiting Room" but I do agree with the general run of comments that most other arts venues seem to have on-line booking systems that work without problems.

  30. Nina Battleday responded on 23 September 2015 at 8:26am Reply

    Have just received what looks like the original email advising me of the postponement. Dated 22 September.

  31. Martin Spiro responded on 23 September 2015 at 8:54am Reply

    Has the on-line booking date for rehearsals also been altered?

  32. I logged on at 9am today 23 Sept. as I was informed in Friends literature that today was priority booking for Jan-March. But each performance date I clicked on said Friends booking 29th Jan. When I came out of booking I saw this notice about cancellation of Friends' booking - it was the notice that flashed on nd off so quickly when I logged on that there was no time to read it. I have no idea what it means 'trouble free booking' for who? I am now late for work and - such is life - am travelling on 29 Sept. Couldn't Friends have emailed us then i could have removed the date from my diary?

    Priority booking for Winter Season postponed for Friends of Covent Garden

    Decision made to help ensure that future booking days will be trouble-free.

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 23 September 2015 at 12:05pm

      Hi Ann,

      Apologies for the inconvenience with the priority booking date change. We have been investigating an email issue with customers on btinternet.com who may have experienced temporary delivery issues around the time of us sending these postponement emails. We have endeavoured to provide messaging across our website and Twitter channels to help make all Friends of Covent Garden aware of the priority booking date change.

      Thanks
      Paul
      Digital Producer

  33. Chris responded on 23 September 2015 at 10:35am Reply

    Please leave booking time at 9.00am or change to 10.00am

  34. Kerry Wedlock responded on 23 September 2015 at 10:40am Reply

    Hi Paul, thank you for your reply timed at 6.15 pm yesterday. I received the second email, dated 21/9 at 13.35, yesterday, 22/9 at 17.27. I have not yet received the first email, and I am not aware of any other delayed or missing emails. Perhaps the problem lies with your agent, WordFly?

    • Paul Spear (Digital Producer) responded on 23 September 2015 at 11:58am

      Hi Kerry,

      Thanks for getting back to me. We are checking with the WordFly support team to narrow down the soft bounce issues but unfortunately it is the case that the majority of Friends who were affected by missing emails were using btinternet.com. I can confirm that we have had other successful send outs to these and other addresses around the dates of the postponement emails. We will continue to investigate.

      Best
      Paul

  35. Roger Law responded on 23 September 2015 at 11:03am Reply

    at least you have the balls to admit your mistakes. well done.

  36. Lauren Darina responded on 23 September 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

    My view is that the date change does not really matter. Sadly, I no longer consider my Friend's membership to afford me a real priority booking, with too many newly-added membership layers getting much better seat allocation. Whilst I cannot afford an upgrade, I continue to be a friend simply because I wish to support the organisation.

  37. I sympathise with the Friends who are being so inconvenienced by the change in booking date. I hope they will next week be spared the miserable booking experience of Supporting Friends on 11th September when the website crashed constantly. Three times, the tickets I had selected in between constant buffering and crashes disappeared from my basket when I went to pay for them and I had to start all over again. I am beginning to wonder if it's worth paying the princely extra sum for the 'privilege' of being a Supporting Member since we always seem to be the guinea pigs for website updates.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 23 September 2015 at 5:56pm

      Hi Jen,

      Very sorry about the recent booking experience. Please be assured our technical team are working hard to resolve the issues. The extra week is allowing us to carry out extensive testing and take remedial action to help ensure as far as possible that your experience during future booking days will be trouble-free.

      Thanks,

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  38. Katharine Weale responded on 27 September 2015 at 2:45pm Reply

    I didn't get the two emails either; they would have appeared with a Junk? if they had been received by my Mac. As it is, it suits me as I was away on 22/9, but I found out only when I tried to book today.

  39. B.J.Mulady responded on 29 September 2015 at 10:24am Reply

    After 90 minutes from 09.00 hrs on 29th Sept I cannot even log in! ROH could not organise a party in a brewery. A major opera house that is incapable of setting up an efficient Booking System.
    Clearly the ''technical team'' have not resolved all the issues.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 29 September 2015 at 1:29pm

      Hi Bernard,

      Sorry to hear about this - this seems to be an unfortunate isolated issue. Could you let me know if you saw any error messages, or if it worked subsequently?

      Thanks,

      Chris
      ROH Digital Producer

  40. Judith Carroll responded on 29 September 2015 at 1:19pm Reply

    Posting just to say I was held in a queue for only 1 minute today, before embarking on the booking procedure. This went well and I Had secured all my tickets within 7 minutes. Thank you!

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