22 January 2013 at 11.26am | 35 Comments
Spring booking opened last Tuesday 15 January and the Royal Opera House website experienced a record volume of visitors to its booking pages. As a result, a number of people trying to book their tickets for our productions found it difficult or impossible to complete their bookings (4.8% throughout the day, 7% in the first hour). This is extremely disappointing to them and to us.
We work hard to provide services appropriate to our reputation and believe it is unacceptable that any of our audience cannot purchase tickets through the website because of technical shortcomings. Every single error matters to us, and we apologize to everyone who encountered a fault when trying to book.
The upgrading of the website technology to make your booking easier has been developed with your expectations in mind. The booking failures faced on Tuesday were the result of the volume of people trying to book tickets as soon as booking opened.
The first ten minutes after booking opens are extremely busy, with thousands of people all over the world trying to buy the tickets they want. On Tuesday this period lasted for several hours. On top of this the number of people trying to book was almost double the number who tried when the last booking period opened in October. We had planned for an increase in visitors, but we did not expect the volume to be as large as this.
The previous booking website held bookers in a virtual ‘waiting room’ before allowing them to purchase tickets, which caused huge delays for most visitors before any selections of tickets could be made at all. The new site allows a far larger number of bookers to buy tickets at the same time. It does this by holding the tickets and other product information for each visitor until all their purchases are complete. You pay once, only after selecting everything you want. However, with such an enormous volume of people trying to use the website, the amount of information to be retained as people completed their purchases was enormous – greater than even our upgraded systems could retain. That is why some people found their basket was empty even though they had selected tickets.
We do understand the incredible frustration for everyone who encountered a problem and who were unable to complete their purchases on Tuesday, especially since the high demand meant that tickets rapidly became unavailable. We promise that we are doing all we can to ensure that by the next booking opening we will be better prepared for this increase in volume.