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General booking for Summer Season to go on sale online at 8am on 31 March 2015

Ongoing trial explores whether a staggered booking approach will improve customer experience.

By Henrik Madsen (Box Office Operations Manager)

17 March 2015 at 2.26pm | 20 Comments

General booking for performances in the Summer Season will open online at 8am on 31 March rather than 10am. However, booking by telephone or in person will still open at 10am.  Please note that between 8am and 10am there will be no Box Office support by telephone or in person.

This follows a trial with Friends of Covent Garden earlier this month which proved successful.

We know that many of our valued customers have had poor experiences on days when a new Season goes on sale, with our recent Spring Season suffering an hour of interrupted sales back in January. Although we’ve spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding an outdated and unstable ticketing system over the past few years we know that problems related to our new systems have caused huge frustration and inconvenience for our audience, for which we sincerely apologize. We wanted to let you know how important your booking experience is to us and how committed we are to doing everything we can to make it work well.

If we do have a problem in the future we want to minimize the impact on our audiences, and testing has revealed that if we separate those who  book online from customers who do so on the phones or in person it will make a real difference to the booking experience for everyone. We know that 90% of our audience book via our website and only 10% use the telephones or book in person, so we will ensure that we have an allocation from across the house for our customers who book in person or by telephone supporters who do not have access to the internet.

We are planning to trial staggered booking to see whether this improves the experience for our customers the way it did for the Friends of Covent Garden earlier this month. This means that on 31 March, online booking will start at 8am and booking by phone and in person  opens at 10am, as normal.

This is an approach taken by other organizations including the Royal Shakespeare Company. Depending on the findings of this trial, this may be rolled out for future booking days. Please note that we are still opening advance package booking on 24 March at 10am both online and by telephone.

There are other things you can do to improve your booking experience; Take a look at the website ahead of the booking day – you may find our new Season pages helpful. If you have trouble with the card payment stage of your purchase, we also offer the option to complete your order via PayPal, which is a safe, quick and easy way to pay: visit the PayPal website to set up an account in advance. And finally, if there is a problem or you want to get live information during the booking, the best place to go is social media. We continuously monitor our Twitter and Facebook accounts during booking days, posting updates and answering questions. You don’t need a Twitter or Facebook account to read our updates, but you will need one to ask a question.

Thank you for being so patient with us through what has been a challenging time. We do care very much about the experience of all our valued customers and will do our very best to ensure that future booking days are trouble free.

By Henrik Madsen (Box Office Operations Manager)

17 March 2015 at 2.26pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged Box Office, General Booking, online, Summer Season

This article has 20 comments

  1. LK responded on 17 March 2015 at 3:25pm Reply

    As a confirmed night owl, bang goes any chance of getting a ticket in my preferred areas then! May be good for larks.
    How about tickets going on sale at midnight? That should really stagger the 90% of online bookers as I appreciate there have been serious congestion problems in the past.

  2. Steve responded on 17 March 2015 at 3:34pm Reply

    Starting booking at 8am gets the thumbs down from me, and probably a lot of other people who are on the move at that time in the morning. Something certainly needs to be done as the website seems to worsen with each booking season, but surely you can think of better ideas than this.

  3. Matthew responded on 17 March 2015 at 3:46pm Reply

    very bad idea as this is right in the middle of the morning commute

  4. Clive Murgatroyd responded on 17 March 2015 at 4:38pm Reply

    Several things wrong with this, including no telephone support when the website does its usual trick of losing your selected seats from the Basket. Like many other patrons, I suspect my chances of getting the seats I want in the future has just diminished considerably. Why not open booking at a weekend, when more people have the time to sit for hours pulling their hair out in front of their frozen computers?

  5. Karen responded on 17 March 2015 at 5:15pm Reply

    Yes why start a booking at at time when the vast majority of working population will be commuting at that time? is this because you realise by opening booking at this time that there will be a staggered demand as people arrive at work?

  6. Alan responded on 17 March 2015 at 7:55pm Reply

    Has the option of putting opera and ballet tickets on sale on different days been considered? Many people are unlikely to want to book both, and those who do would find booking on separate days worth the effort if it created a smoother experience.

  7. Laura responded on 17 March 2015 at 8:47pm Reply

    I'm sure I won't be the only person inconveniently on my way to work 8 am! A staggered approach seems perfectly sensible, but perhaps at a more user-friendly time?!

  8. Ken responded on 17 March 2015 at 9:22pm Reply

    Separate dates for Ballet and Opera
    and/or eight booking opening days a year instead of four.

    • Alison responded on 25 April 2015 at 5:18pm

      Totally agree with Ken. It would make much more sense to split booking periods up more rather than try and force the system to work under these ridiculous constraints on a few days a year.

      I've only just realised this page existed, but since you wanted feedback:
      My office doesn't open until 9, so I had to stay at home for half the morning to book, because otherwise I'd have been commuting. That means I have to contend with my home Internet connection potentially dropping out every now and then, rather than a reliable connection at work. Highly unimpressed. Rumour had it there were some stalls circle standing to be found if you got there early enough, but I couldn't see any - ended up with far poorer seats than I've ever had with any other booking.

  9. Jeremy responded on 18 March 2015 at 6:44am Reply

    I have to disagree with other comments - changing to 8am is an excellent move for some of us. It's not always easy to take time out of work in the middle of the morning for a 10am booking time. Those complaining about travelling at this time could surely consider going to work early and being ready for 8am booking at work - it's only on a few days each year! Thank you ROH for trying different options to solve the issues we've been facing.

  10. Kevin responded on 18 March 2015 at 9:04am Reply

    I will be on the way to work. This won't work for me.

  11. Henrik Madsen responded on 18 March 2015 at 6:36pm Reply

    Thank you for your feedback which we will of course take into consideration going forward. It is important to keep in mind this is a trial only. There is no denying that it will always be difficult to find a time that will suit everyone.

    Please don't forget that if you are planning to book for more than one production in our Summer Season you may wish to take advantage of our packages, which go on sale on Tuesday 24 March from 10am both online and by telephone:

    Best wishes


  12. Kevin responded on 20 March 2015 at 9:36am Reply

    Spreading the system load by having booking at a time when most people can't book, is bound to work. Not very democratic though is it?

  13. ML responded on 23 March 2015 at 5:23pm Reply

    Not really fair on those who are commuting in the morning. Perhaps it would be fairer to open online booking at 11am - giving those who are at the Box Office in person a bonus hour for their efforts in getting to the theatre? That will also mean that online support is available. What most committed fans - the ones who support even the less-popular-but-important-to-have new works loyally - want to know is, will the allocation to ticket agencies buying in bulk be reduced, so that real fans get a reasonably priced ticket that actually benefits the opera house rather than putting profits into a third party's pocket?

  14. Andrew Stafford responded on 30 March 2015 at 4:10pm Reply

    This is a big improvement - should lighten the load on the site and its before i start work in the morning.

    Suggest spreading it out a bit further though. Perhaps have different start times for different parts of the house?

  15. Janet Girsman responded on 31 March 2015 at 8:21am Reply

    No go. Website won't accept my password and still waiting for e mail to confirm. No doubt my preferred seats will have gone and it will be queuing at dawn again! Was a Friend but that didn't mean seats were available either. On one occasion sent wrong dates. After years of attending ROH very disappointed

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 31 March 2015 at 9:12am

      Dear Janet

      Did you manage to sign in? Let us know if you need any help.

      Best wishes


  16. B. Wall responded on 31 March 2015 at 9:49am Reply

    The 0800 booking slot worked well for me. It allows one to get on with the day. For those commuting I'm sure - for four days in a year - they can slightly alter their schedule in some fashion to meet demand. I know I did - and was most grateful for being able to complete my transactions in a process of relative ease rather than frustration as has been the case in a few recent general ROH booking sessions. For that I - and my employer - thank you heartily ROH.

  17. Ekaterina N responded on 31 March 2015 at 2:12pm Reply

    Went on-line at 8.00 on the dot, wanted to buy tickets for William Tell. Ticket slection was very poor, no tickets at all in fact in our preferred area - amphitheatre A centre and amphitheatre B centre. I looked at every single performance. Waited till 10.00, then tried to book over the phone, could not get through. At the end had to settle for tickets in amphitheatre sides, bought on-line.

    Has ROH allocated more tickets to friends and pckages?

  18. Nina Battleday responded on 31 March 2015 at 7:25pm Reply

    Delighted that I managed to get tickets for Watson/Whelan which I hadn't been able to get when Friends booking opened . All done and dusted by 08.05! Definitely no complaints.

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