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Online booking: Why we have changed Friends Online Booking opening times to 8am rather than 10am.

Two-day trial on 3 and 4 March to explore whether a staggered booking approach will improve customer experience.

By Susan Fisher (Head of Membership)

25 February 2015 at 12.12pm | 110 Comments

We know that many of our valued customers have had poor experiences on days when a new Season goes on sale. Although we’ve spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding an outdated and unstable ticketing system over the past few years we know that problems related to our new systems have caused huge frustration and inconvenience for our Friends of Covent Garden, 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 minimise the impact on our Friends, and testing has revealed that if we separate the Friends that book online from the ones who do so on the phones it will make a real difference to the booking experience for everyone. We know that 90% of Friends book via our website and only 10% use the telephones or booking forms, so we will ensure that we have an allocation from across the house for our supporters who do not have access to the internet. Should we have technical difficulties we will shut the website until a fix is in place, rather than channelling frustrated customers into an overloaded phone system.

We are planning to trial staggered booking for the Friends of Covent Garden Summer Season to see whether this improves the experience for our customers. This means that on 3 and 4 March, online booking will start at 8am and booking by phone will open at 10am, as normal. We will keep a proportion of seats for the telephone booking which opens at 10am.  This is an approach taken by other organizations including the Royal Shakespeare Company. Depending on the findings of this trial we may be testing early online booking times when general booking opens on 31 March.

As a Friend there are also things you can do to improve your booking experience; logging into the website early (before 8am), and being sure to refresh your page as booking begins, can help you get through the first part of the process before the rush begins. 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, especially The Friends of Covent Garden; and will do our very best to ensure that future booking days are trouble free.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this change.

By Susan Fisher (Head of Membership)

25 February 2015 at 12.12pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged booking, Booking Day, friends, Friends of Covent Garden, Summer Season, website

This article has 110 comments

  1. Ian Hodge responded on 25 February 2015 at 1:44pm Reply

    8am is when most people are commuting. I certainly will be. An 8am opening means that by the time I get to work and get online the best seats will have already have gone to people who are not working. Please put this back to 10am which is a fair time for everyone.

  2. Sally Gibbons responded on 25 February 2015 at 1:52pm Reply

    I was delighted when you returned the online booking time to 10am. It is bad enough that it is always mid-week, but for those of us commuting to work 8am is usually mid-journey and entirely the wrong time at which to open booking. It either means taking at least half a day off work, or risking not getting a seat for the popular productions.

  3. John Walton responded on 25 February 2015 at 1:54pm Reply

    At what time will on-line booking for dress rehearsals (opera) open on 10 March?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 25 February 2015 at 2:05pm

      Hi John,

      Booking for rehearsals on 10 March will be at 10am. The 8am trial only applies to booking days on 3 and 4 March.


      ROH Content Producer

  4. Louise responded on 25 February 2015 at 1:59pm Reply

    I agree with Ian - 8am is not helpful to those of us that commute to work. Please keep to 10am.

  5. Mark Thomas responded on 25 February 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

    Agreed with comments above - please move back to 10am to allow for those of us who work to have a fair chance of booking priority tickets.

  6. Siggy responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:02pm Reply

    This is a really bad idea. As the comments above say, this is peak commuting time, mostly standing on a train when I won't be able to access the website.

    I'd really love to know the reasoning behind this change. Even a compromise of 9am would be better than this. And why wait to experiment on ordinary Friends -why not the higher levels of Friends who have now already booked?

    Bad show ROH. This will seriously make me reconsider whether I want to be a Friend at all!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:20pm

      Thanks for your feedback. This is a trial, so we are very keen to see what works best for our audience.

      The reason for the change is to protect customers from any problems we have on booking days, in a period when we are still trying to resolve problems with our systems.

      There has been no decision to target one membership group over another - we are taking action to improve the booking experience at the earliest possible moment.

      Best wishes


  7. Helen responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:05pm Reply

    I'm quire happy with 8am as usually in work for 8.15am so it's o perfect for me. It would really be better if booking opened on Sundays as per ABT then everyone gets a fair crack at the whip or just put the whole year on sale in one go like StaatsBallett Berlin there's none of this bun fighting which really is quite tiresome.

    • Annette responded on 28 February 2015 at 3:12pm

      Fully agree with the Sunday (or also Saturday) booking. Being in work, I always have the feeling that it leaves a bad impression when someone sees you buying tickets online instead of working. I always try to do it in a way so that no-one sees, but as I have lots of colleagues around me this makes me quite nervous.

  8. vanessa stopford responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:11pm Reply

    I do not like getting up so early, and am
    far too dozy to think clearly at 8.00 am!

  9. Martin responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:20pm Reply

    Please do not move it to 8 am - it is distinctly unhelpful, especially when you suggest people should be logging on at their computer even earlier than 8am.
    It sounds as if the move will assist the 10% of friends who may book by phone; for the other 90% the benefits are less certain.
    You call this staggered booking - which suggests you think most people won't actually be able or willing to log on at 8am. So you appear to hope that by making the starting time less convenient, you can spread the booking over a longer period. Hmm .......

    Cannot the ROH either finally get a booking system which is fit for purpose? Or buy in extra capacity for the few days when you handle such a mass of bookings?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:32pm

      Dear Martin

      We hope that the staggered booking will make the experience better for all our users in a period when we are still resolving technical issues. Recently we have invested in additional skills and testing systems to better simulate what really happens on a busy booking day and to fix the problems. The difficulties our customers experienced recently were due to the performance of our customer database in the wake of an essential software update, but identifying what caused the system to grind to a halt has been extremely complex. We are doing our very best to improve the booking day experience and apologise for the inconvenience you've experienced.

      Best wishes


  10. Heather responded on 25 February 2015 at 3:51pm Reply

    I have always found 10.00am absolutely hopeless. If you are at work, you cannot take time out to make a booking. While 8.00am is an improvement for me, I sympathise with fellow Friends who are commuting at this time. Surely an evening time slot would be fairer for many more people.

  11. Marisol responded on 25 February 2015 at 4:00pm Reply

    Well, this is the final straw in bad ROH front of house decisions which has confirmed my decision not to renew my Friends membership. The productions are marvellous, but the booking process is horrendous, the ushers are few and far between and the Friends office unhelpful, even when they can be reached by phone.

    How do you expect the vast majority of working people to be able to book at 8.00 am? Either I take a day off work, or hope that an affordable seat is left over as soon as I get to work, which is unlikely, given the speed at which tickets go. Why are you not investing time and money in improving the website vending process, instead of penalising your paying members? What is the issue with trialling evening or weekend booking?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 February 2015 at 9:56pm

      Sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the service you have received. Do feel free to contact the Friends office directly to discuss further.

      Best wishes


  12. Rebecca responded on 25 February 2015 at 4:09pm Reply

    I really struggle with 10am bookings since I am in work and often cannot get to a computer for a couple of hours.
    With this change, I will have to go in extra early to be online for the 8am opening, but this does mean that I will have a better opportunity to book the tickets I hope to secure.
    The weekend or evening option might be fairer for all, particularly those who are likely to be commuting.

  13. Juliet Chaplin responded on 25 February 2015 at 4:29pm Reply

    I prefer to book by post, and I certainly wouldn't like an 8am start!

  14. Matthew responded on 25 February 2015 at 4:37pm Reply

    The 8AM online opening is a terrible idea for working people and I will surely miss out. Also holding back seats for telephone bookings scares me as seat options will be further restricted.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 February 2015 at 10:00pm

      Dear Matthew

      As only 10% will be held back for phone booking there will be good availability for online bookers.

      Best wishes


  15. Anne responded on 25 February 2015 at 5:04pm Reply

    Someone suggested on Twitter in the past what I think is a real staggered booking idea, that is, opening booking slots production by production. However, it will be interesting to see how next week works out, because even if it is at the bottom end of the Friends scale, £90 is still a steep price to pay for a booking system which is constantly dogged with issues.

  16. Mr Peter Annells responded on 25 February 2015 at 5:15pm Reply

    Brilliant; back to 8 o'clock so I won't have to take half a day off work to book. Long may it continue!

  17. Much better time. 1000 is useless for many who work and can't use work computers for such things, so end up taking time out to grapple with the online booking from home. Starting at this time makes a slightly late departure for work more feasible.

    I hope it works out better !

  18. Louise Matlock responded on 25 February 2015 at 6:07pm Reply

    Hurrah for 8am! though i think there is some merit in considering Saturdays, cf the proms.

  19. Nina responded on 25 February 2015 at 7:04pm Reply

    0800 suits me very well, as one of those lucky retired people! Obviously it's impossible to come up with a time convenient to everyone,although I think most,of the major companies start booking at 1000.Rsc for example runs both on line and phone at the same time, but maybe they have less phone booking

  20. Malcolm responded on 25 February 2015 at 7:06pm Reply

    8 am. is not much use to me: I will be travelling to work at that time. Any time earlier than 8.30 means I have to take time off work or take my chance that there are tickets still available.

  21. Geoff responded on 25 February 2015 at 7:24pm Reply

    Couple of points:

    (1) I can read but some people I have spoken to are still confused: this 8am idea is ONLY for 3 and 4 March, yes, not for booking dates before (eg Friends+ on 2 March) or after (eg rehearsals of 10 March) when online booking stays at 10am? Please confirm.

    (2) People speak of "staggered" booking: the Vienna opera opens booking exactly two months before any particular date, ie for a performance on 10 May booking opens on 10 March (there are adjustments for odd days and after the summer etc but this is the general principle). Such a system would dramatically reduce the crush on any particular day, making it all less of a struggle for us all, on both sides of the transaction. Or have I missed soem obvious reason why we aT the ROH we are all crammed into a couple of days four times a year?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 February 2015 at 9:55pm

      Dear Geoff

      The 8am trial is currently only for 3 and 4 March.

      In the same way that no time will be ideal for everyone, the release of tickets on a production by production basis will be convenient for some and not others. All options will be considered, but at present the season structure remains.

      Best wishes


    • John M. responded on 25 February 2015 at 10:45pm

      I suggested the Vienna system to the Friends Office once and was given short shrift, something about Vienna selling most of its tickets on subscription. When I book for 3/4 operas at a time, as the ROH system makes me do, I am purchasing a sort of subscription, am I not? A rose by any other name, etc. It will be interesting to see what happens at the next stampede. Buying opera/ballet tickets really should not be a stressful, frustrating experience.

  22. Giselle responded on 25 February 2015 at 11:27pm Reply

    If the majority of people are unable to book at 8am due to commuting, then surely they need not worry that performances will be sold out by 10am. I welcome an earlier opening time, in the hope that the queueing time to get on the site might be shorter at 8

  23. Geoff responded on 26 February 2015 at 7:32am Reply

    Dear Ellen

    Thanks for your prompt reply (and apologies for the typos). Apologies also for being unclear about the booking system in Vienna: this is not on a production by production basis, but strictly by performance date alone. If you want to go to the Vienna opera to see a show on (say) November 24, you know that booking for that day's performance opens exactly two months beforehand, i.e. on September 24. For the show on November 25, book from September 25, and so on.

    Not sure why that would be worse for anyone than the current quarterly ROH pile ups, with everyone fighting over a season's worth of best seats in a mad scramble.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 26 February 2015 at 9:19am

      Dear Geoff

      It might be the case that someone who visits us very regularly (some Friends of Covent Garden come every week) would find it annoying to keep coming back to book each individual performance, rather than picking up all the tickets they require in one go. It's also the case that certain performances (opening night of La boheme with Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja or Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta in Swan Lake would still bring tens of thousands to the website).

      Of course, the bottom line is that the website should be able to comfortably withstand the pressure of booking, and the team is working had to ensure that will be the case in future.

      Best wishes


  24. Karl responded on 26 February 2015 at 8:11am Reply

    8am preferable for me, 10am itself is often being impractical versus mid morning commitments. Given the sheer range of booking times for the many classes of opera supporters, advance booking packages and then the various channels available, a two hour difference on one, even if the main, booking channel seems unlikely to be the defining issue in failing to acquire tickets.
    On line booking process has improved hugely over the last couple of years: quick, easy and accurate in my experience.

  25. Karen responded on 26 February 2015 at 9:32am Reply

    Whilst I can see the difficulty for those who can only commute around 8am, I think the time itself is somewhat academic. Personally I would either get to work for 8am or book at home and get in a tad later. It's only a few times a year.

    The bigger issue to me is that there are now so many tiers of Friends that despite being a Supporting Friend - nearly £400 a year I still cannot get my preferred seats for some productions. A huge problem compared with when I was first a mere Friend in around 2000 and got them pretty easily. It is this elitism (not the art forms) that should be addressed IMO, all the outreach work in the world doesn't remotely combat that form of privilege.

  26. David Coleman responded on 26 February 2015 at 9:32am Reply

    Booking went through a Golden Era when the new system was introduced and you got rid of the waiting room. For many seasons it never fell over. I can't recall now when booking opened then ...... was it 8am?!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 26 February 2015 at 9:52am

      Hi David

      Booking was still opening at 10am at that stage.

      Best wishes


  27. Vicky Hurst responded on 26 February 2015 at 11:02am Reply

    Like the majority of people 8.00am does not work for me as I am commuting and do not have access to the internet at that time so by the time I get to work any chance of booking the tickets I want will have gone. How about 9.00am instead? A lot of commercial theatres open their on-line booking at that time. This is just another nail in the coffin that is becoming my Friends membership. I doubt very much whether I will renew it as the service I get is not worth the hard-earned money I have to pay for.

  28. Liana responded on 26 February 2015 at 1:11pm Reply

    I too will be commuting at 8am and agree with all those who have posted above. 10am is a bit annoying, but this is worse.

    What's wrong with 9am, when most people will be at their desks/place of work and can take 5 minutes to book?

  29. Osmin responded on 26 February 2015 at 1:38pm Reply

    The time of booking is not a problem to me personally. I am a Supporting Friend and went on line on 24th full of trepidation following previous experiences. However, it went smoothly, like a dream, I went on line at 10-05 and had all package opera and ballet tickets booked by 10-15. Congratulations to your website builders they have got it right at last.

  30. Margaret responded on 26 February 2015 at 2:26pm Reply

    This 'staggered booking' will only work because a lot of Friends will not be able to book at 8am. The time is not so important for me as I am retired, but it will be very hard for many people. I wonder also how the seat availability will be for those using the phone lines at 10am.
    Will there be any technical support available during this first two hours if things go wrong?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 26 February 2015 at 2:44pm

      Dear Margaret

      The technical team will be working behind the scenes throughout the booking, and the editorial team will be on hand to provide support for customers via Twitter, Facebook or here on the blog. We'll be able to relay queries in real time to the tech team and give you assistance.

      Best wishes


  31. Margie responded on 26 February 2015 at 7:40pm Reply

    Add me to the long list of people very unhappy about the change of booking times. 10am is manageable (with a bit of rearranging of my schedule at work), and 8am will be miserable.

    None of us wants a repeat of the spring Friends booking disaster, but I would hope the ROH web team could think of a better long-term solution than staggered booking. Intentionally choosing inconvenient times to open booking in order to reduce the number of concurrent users seems like a rather simplistic approach to fixing an under-performing web site.

  32. Daisy responded on 26 February 2015 at 10:42pm Reply

    How about an earlier still start so people could book before setting off to commute? (Football clubs start online booking at 7am.) Or, as suggested, Sunday, when far more people aren't affected by the commuting/being at work problems.

  33. Jamie MacDonald responded on 26 February 2015 at 10:53pm Reply

    I have a question, I happen to be traveling on business in Europe on 4th so date rather than time is my problem although I will try and log in on 4th at 9.00 CET.
    Is there any issue with logging on and trying to book tickets if outside of UK when friends booking opens?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 27 February 2015 at 2:15pm

      Dear Jamie

      There should be no problem with you booking outside the UK. Keep an eye on social media for updates.

      Best wishes


  34. Geoff responded on 27 February 2015 at 6:48am Reply

    By the way, John M., you wrote:-

    >>I suggested the Vienna system to the Friends Office once and was given short shrift, something about Vienna selling most of its tickets on subscription.

    Well, despite the respect which is due to the always wonderful Friends office, you were fed nonsense, myth, or at best out of date information. I live in Vienna half the year, and this just isn't true. It is always clear which are going to be subscription heavy performances (not productions, there are always many dates for which no subscribers get tickets) and so one knows to try harder for those (get up earlier, pay a bit more or whatever).

    Sounds to me like the ROH have some other problem with the Vienna system which they don't want to talk about (staffing levels? but don't see why it makes for more work) and so just fobbed you off.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 27 February 2015 at 2:14pm

      Hi Geoff and John

      All the feedback we receive around this trial will be carefully assessed, and after that we will be able to consider what happens next.

      Best wishes


  35. Why not consider whole season subscription booking like the Met, so we don't have to endure the stress 4 times a year. Loyal regulars could book it all in one go, then the load would be lighter for those who prefer to book nearer the time.

    8 AM much better than 1000 for me

  36. Tricia Brown responded on 27 February 2015 at 10:39am Reply

    8am is much better for me. I also work/have school run to do etc., but it is easier for me to make arrangements just for that day and get to work early and logon before work starts rather than try to take a break at 10am once work will be very busy. It is obviously difficult to find a time that suits all as everyone's individual circumstances will be different.

  37. Annette responded on 27 February 2015 at 11:44am Reply

    I'm delighted that friends booking will start at 8am. 10am booking causes problems for me as I can't get to a computer at work so have to struggle with booking on my iPhone or take time off to book my tickets. Hopefully this change will suit enough friends and work out for everyone

  38. Kevin responded on 27 February 2015 at 12:41pm Reply

    08:00 I am going to work. 10:00 is better for me - as long as it works and I'm not stuck for an hour trying again and again and again and only getting error messages from Tessitura.

    Am I mistaken, but didn't ROH announce they were stopping using Tessitura to replace it with their own in-house system??

    I like the suggestion of booking for each event opening exactly 2 months in advance. That would work for 10:00

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 27 February 2015 at 2:12pm

      Thanks Kevin. We were always keeping Tessitura as the customer database, the change has been in a rebuilt website layered on top of it.

      Best wishes


  39. Terry responded on 27 February 2015 at 1:17pm Reply

    I would hate an 08:00 or even 07:00 booking. To add to all the stress of all those error messages, it getting later and later and you have to leave the house to go to work.

  40. Roger Walkley responded on 27 February 2015 at 2:51pm Reply

    I agree with all those opposing the 8am booking time. Many commuters will be excluded from priority booking.

  41. John responded on 27 February 2015 at 4:28pm Reply

    Site was slow today when packages booking opened! I am dreading next Wednesday when it will be just a nightmare with La boheme

  42. Susy Canvin responded on 27 February 2015 at 5:56pm Reply

    I'm in the fortunate postion of being able to book at 8am or 10pm and, since the dreaded waiting room system was changed, have been able to book tickets quickly and efficiently. I can only hope this will continue on 3rd March. I agree with Margie's comments above, surely an organisation like the ROH can find a better solution than intentionally using staggered booking to reduce concurrent users on the web site.

  43. Marie responded on 27 February 2015 at 7:04pm Reply

    I like the change to 8am but could online booking for packages also start at 8am, because in my job I cant stop work at 10am to book and my preferred seats have often gone by the time I get a break at work to book

  44. Pamela Tan responded on 27 February 2015 at 8:31pm Reply

    Please confirm whether Friends+ booking remains unaffected and opens as normal on Monday 02nd March at 10:00AM?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 2 March 2015 at 10:04am

      Dear Pamela

      Friends+ booking is unaffected.



  45. Jakegee responded on 28 February 2015 at 10:58am Reply

    Roy suggests above a "whole season subscription booking". That would be a financial impossibility for most except the few elite who have no worries about their spending.

    So far this season I have been to 17 Royal Ballet performances, all in the Orchestra Stalls, and I have tickets for a further 14 performances before end of season. I balk at the thought of purchasing all those tickets in one fell swoop (and sometimes a ticket for someone accompanying me)! I never grudge the costs, but nor do I ever total it up, as well as tickets for ENB, Scottish Ballet, BRB or Northern Ballet etc. I think therefore that a once a year booking is totally unfeasible.

    Also, I want to know which cast I am opting for, and this is rarely available so far ahead, but generally can be seen in advance of each season's booking date. The exception this time is Woolf Works, which has not yet been announced, but I know that we are always going to have world class dancers with Royal Ballet! Thank you for the pleasure you bring.

  46. Kirstie Phipps responded on 1 March 2015 at 1:52pm Reply

    For goodness sake - we're talking about four days in the year. Surely on four days out of 365 days most of us could manage to get to work early for an 8.00 am booking time? People who don't have access to a computer at work wouldn't be able to book from work at 10.00 either. Isn't this a bit of a mountain out of a molehill?

  47. S Fletcher responded on 1 March 2015 at 3:49pm Reply

    Hi, We are so glad that you have restored the 8am booking time. As we have no allowable internet access (for personal purchases) from work, the 10am time meant taking at least the whole morning off work (my 1-way commute is 1 1/2 hours) or finding a "quiet corner" of the office to hang onto the phone for ages - not a good practice in "core time". With 8am I can get to work mid-morning. Thank you.

  48. Sam responded on 2 March 2015 at 7:32pm Reply

    For me the time is not really a problem, though I would have preferred it to be kept at 10am. But I do think the holding back of even 10pc of tickets is another bit of the advantage of being a standard Friend gone. With Friends+ being created there are now already fewer tickets available than before when Friends online booking opens. Last time I couldn't get a seat I liked for the Flying Dutchman when Friends' booking opened, but got one easily when public booking opened. This rather negates the point of being a Friend. I don't earn very much money, and so my reasoning behind becoming a Friend was to pay a little up front to ensure I had access to the cheap seats. For me upgrading to Supporting Friend just isn't a financial viable option, and if there are no affordable tickets available when Friends' booking opens on Wednesday, it may be the case that just chancing it with public booking and returns is a better way forward for me.

    • Vicky Hurst responded on 3 March 2015 at 4:50pm

      I agree with your response. Like you I don't earn very much money and tend to go for stalls circle standing so that I can go as often as I can to the ballet. However, there are never any stalls circle standing places available when the booking opens. I became a Friend because I too thought it would be easier to get the tickets I wanted but every time I've managed to get stalls circle standing it has been either via the general booking or returns so I'm afraid my Friends membership will not be renewed as there seems little point.

  49. Margaret responded on 3 March 2015 at 8:23am Reply

    Having made a booking for two performances successfully at 8am, I looked at the Insight event and found those not on sale until 10am. Would like to know why? This was not highlighted in the information we received.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:23am

      Apologies for this error, Margaret. The Insights events should have gone on sale at 8am - we remedied this as soon as we realised.

      Best wishes


  50. Anna Sansom responded on 3 March 2015 at 8:32am Reply

    I forgot to renew my membership until this morning. I've done so now but I still can't book for the summer season. If this blog is being monitored for technical problems, please can someone look into this.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:20am

      Thanks - have your details and are activating the membership now.

      Best wishes


  51. Carolyn Kerr responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:05am Reply

    incandescent! Tried to book for the Ballet rehearsal on 19 May; went on website at 8am - it said booking opens at 10 am. Went back at 9am to check, by which time it was all sold out. What happened?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:24am

      Apologies, Carolyn. The rehearsal should have gone on sale at 8am - we updated as soon as this was brought to our attention. We're sorry for any inconvenience.

      Best wishes


  52. Nina Battleday responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:18am Reply

    Tend to agree with Sam. I couldn't get tickets at the,price I wanted,to pay for either Tristan or Dutchman when Friends booking opened but got excellent ones for both when public booking opened. Have just booked ballet tickets this morning and noticed that seats in some areas already seem limited.

  53. Olivia Cox responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:38am Reply

    I am really pleased you are opening the booking at 8am. I cannot book tickets at work so have always suffered with missing out on my ideal seats. Booking opening at 10am is definitely not fair on everyone!

  54. Hilary muggridge responded on 3 March 2015 at 10:01am Reply

    I am REALLY fed up. Tried to book ballet this am at 8.30 but no go...message came up not open for booking. Came back 9.15 but couldn't sign in ...discrepancy between user name and PW. Did this a couple of times and decided I'd better change my PW. Typed in my email but, guess what, account not recognised........this really is too bad ROH!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 March 2015 at 10:10am

      Think that your work email was the one you were using as primary email. We've switched it round, so if you request a new password with your personal email address now that should work.

      Let us know if you have further problems.

      Best wishes


  55. Sheila Cross responded on 3 March 2015 at 10:25am Reply

    I've had a very frustrating time- not helped my stupidity at forgetting the new time! But it took about 12 attempts to open up the plans of the different parts of the theatre, a little circle kept swirling round and it looked for a while as though my only option was to go for the 'best available' seat option but that would have meant I had no control over where I sat, and I'm very particular. When I eventually managed to open the seating plans up there were no seats I really like as there were so few seats left anywhere.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 March 2015 at 10:54am

      Sorry to hear that Sheila. What browser and device were you using (phone or laptop)?

      Best wishes


  56. Vicky Hurst responded on 3 March 2015 at 4:46pm Reply

    Went on-line while I was on my two hour commute to work but still didn't manage to get the tickets I wanted. The website took ages to load and then because I was on a train I kept losing the signal. Please bring back the 10am booking.

  57. Katharine Weale responded on 3 March 2015 at 5:59pm Reply

    I missed the change of opening time for 3/4 March and, newly a Friend thought I'd be fine trying to book at about 1700, especially for ballet on a Monday. Got the last decent seat in the Orch Stalls. I must clearly get into the habit of looking at the website more often. The best change for me has been the disappearance of the waiting room; an early start is nothing compared with that and, as I'm retired I can manage both 8.0 and 10.0

  58. Kate Ford responded on 3 March 2015 at 8:33pm Reply

    8am suits me. I can book before going to work. Like many people I would not be able to book online in working hours. I prefer to do all my booking at once rather than production by production, having to clear time from work every time.
    You can't please everyone.

  59. Sheila Cross responded on 3 March 2015 at 9:24pm Reply

    Ellen, thanks for your response which I've only just seen. I was using my laptop (macbook). I did wonder if the problem might be my end as no-one else seems to have complained about this!

  60. Frances responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:13am Reply

    8am is SO much better than 10 am. All done in 1 minute and on with the day. Those commuters who complain presumably have no worries about using their work time to book tickets at 10am. ! Just re-organise your day like everyone else who currently has to organise it currently around a 10am booking time. I think the suggestions of early morning at a weekend might have merit. I have always found the Friends office and Opera House staff to be extremely helpful so well done for at least trying a different way. Thanks

  61. Tony Boyd-Williams responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:18am Reply

    It is now 8.15 on 4th March and I have just received email confirmation in respect of my reservation for July. A most efficient and smooth transaction .Bravo ROH!

  62. Frances-Jean Wilson responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:18am Reply

    8 am is a great improvement. Those who complain about it presumably have no problem booking from work in work time! Suggest they re-organise their day - like most of us who currently have to do exactly that around 10 am, often not easy if scheduling appointments. All done in a couple of minutes and on with the day at 8.02. Well done for trying something else, 8 am always worked in the past. Suggestions of an early morning at weekends however might have merit if it could be organised. Thanks for trying new things out

  63. Ruby Brennan responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:19am Reply

    Found the booking for ballet and opera straightforward .I always book amphitheatre seats .I had a sense that the choice of ballet seats was reduced yesterday but I still got seats just a bit more expensive.Definitely a better experience than last time

  64. John responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:33am Reply

    Best pre-sale in a very long time! In and out for less than 10 min! Keep the 8am start, please!


  65. Maxine responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:36am Reply

    Had no problems logging on this morning, but there seemed to be far fewer tickets available in my preferred area (lower/ mid Amphi) than usual for Friends booking. I looked across dates & productions and the same appeared true for all. Very disappointing.

  66. Robin responded on 4 March 2015 at 8:49am Reply

    Tickets confirmed 0804 - congratulations

  67. PeterA responded on 4 March 2015 at 10:06am Reply

    How are we expected to know that you have unilaterally changed the booking time one week before the event?
    At the very least I would expect to receive an email notifying of this important change and not be left to rue it when I logged in at the advertised time.
    This is not acceptable and has probably caused me to miss seats that I had hoped to find.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 4 March 2015 at 10:38am

      Hi Peter,

      Sorry to hear you weren't aware of the change for this trial.

      We sent two emails about the change, one notifying, and one reminder. Please do check that your registered email is correct by logging into your account. If it is correct, could you email us to let us know via, selecting the box 'website'?


      ROH Content Producer

  68. Janet Thomasson responded on 4 March 2015 at 10:24am Reply

    I was poised, fingers hovering, at 8 am but so ill-prepared for the 40 minutes of horror that I had to endure losing 20 to 30 bookings one after another and having to give up on booking for three of us all together in the end. I have never experienced a booking session so bad in my years of booking online. I agree that for commuters 8 am must be a nightmare and would not wish to continue if this is to be the norm in future.

  69. Nina Battleday responded on 4 March 2015 at 12:25pm Reply

    No problems either today or yesterday.transactions successfully completed by 08.10,choice of seats not marvellous, ballet especially so.

  70. roy responded on 4 March 2015 at 2:50pm Reply

    It worked perfectly at 0800, in and out in minutes and then straight off to work. So much better than having to plan a much later work start.

    Please stick with 0800 for the future

  71. yevgeniy responded on 4 March 2015 at 4:31pm Reply

    i liked 8am booking. no lines, no waiting, worked fine.

  72. Margaret Grant responded on 4 March 2015 at 5:17pm Reply

    Easier to log in than previously but after booking my first ticket I lost my way looking for the second opera. By the time I found it only side tickets available (Linbury) which I won't buy. Disappointing.

    I also agree that there seemed to be a much reduced choice of seats available overall.

  73. Christopher Prentice responded on 4 March 2015 at 7:33pm Reply

    I am retired so it doesn't make any difference to me but with several booking dates during the season for both opera and ballet I am sometimes away from home which makes it impracticable to book online. I have booked for WNO right through to summer 2016. When Scottish Opera and ON booking opens I will be able to book for the whole season. Why can I not do this at the ROH?

  74. Roger Law responded on 5 March 2015 at 11:06am Reply

    8.00 is much better than 10.00 for me.
    Reading other peoples comments it seems to me that a lot of them go to work to book opera tickets - surely they should be workng!

  75. William Falk responded on 5 March 2015 at 12:23pm Reply

    Did not book anything in the summer period, but definitely would prefer the 8.00 a.m. booking time for the future if you are staying with mid-week booking dates. I think that weekends would be fairer to everyone.

  76. Sally Gibbons responded on 5 March 2015 at 12:49pm Reply

    Having looked at the site to-day, it seems that none of the Summer season opera offerings are sold out yet (at least, in the Friends allocations). This says to me that this was not an especially busy booking session. Maybe you should have run your tests when there was a major new production, or a "star tenor", on the list.

  77. Alexander Jacoby responded on 6 March 2015 at 7:43am Reply

    I had to get up at 5:30 in order to be in front of a computer in time for the 8:00 start, but I suppose most buyers don't commute from London to Oxford on booking days... I was used to 10:00, but in reality any time is going to be inconvenient for someone.

    Much more concerning to me has been the way in which choice for "ordinary" friends has diminished since Joint Friends became Friends + and received their extra priority. It used to be fairly easy to get two or three reasonably priced seats together with a fairly decent, only slightly restricted view, to the front and just to the side of the Amphitheatre. Yesterday, booking for myself and two friends, I think I got the last two such tickets (though not next to each other) for William Tell, and had to stump up an extra 20 quid for my own seat. This comes close to defeating the object of being a Friend in the first place!

    I'd also add that precious seconds were wasted in between bookings while I entered the details of a newly issued credit card. Of course, these are now saved for next time, but it ought to be possible to record new credit card details in advance of making an actual purchase, so that successive bookings can be made as rapidly as possible. I've learned from bitter experience that it's dangerous to try and put everything in one's basket before paying for it!

    Nevertheless, I must say that I got acceptable seats for the four things I wanted to book for and that it all took no more than ten minutes! - so it went pretty smoothly really.

    When do you announce next year's season?

  78. Edwin Gruber responded on 6 March 2015 at 10:12pm Reply

    Reading so many negative comments about the 0800 start of the booking I felt compelled to say how delighted I was about this change. Please keep it that way for future booking sessions.

  79. Morgan responded on 7 March 2015 at 1:25pm Reply

    I must say I've never experienced any problems with the online booking system.It is a vast improvement on the old system that used the waiting room and I think the booking process at the ROH is far superior to many other theatres,I'd even say it leads the way based on my experience. For me personally the 8am booking slot works well as I can order before heading to work or even on my way to work now that the website has been made so mobile friendly.I can appreciate though that for some it might be an unsuitable time.

  80. Christine Partridge responded on 7 March 2015 at 1:36pm Reply

    I have never used on line before but because of the time lapse between the online and telephone time I used it this time but I found it most inconvenient as the page kept disappearing. and it was very difficult to sort out where the seats were from the plan. I did get tickets for performances I wanted but I missed being able to discuss options when the seat I really try for was not available.. Surely online and telephone booking could run at the same time as it used to in the past so all seats are available to anyone either phoning or using online

  81. Kay responded on 10 March 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

    If it is to be midweek, 8am is a much better time as 10am is in the middle of the working day. May I suggest that the commuters get to work earlier on booking day?

  82. Mark responded on 10 March 2015 at 9:57pm Reply

    The 8am booking time worked for me, but the last two Friends booking I have noticed that there doesn't seem to be as many seats available in the Amphi. Is this a symptom of the packages being more flexible now, so more people are booking at package time?

  83. Graham West responded on 14 March 2015 at 12:18pm Reply

    8am allows the rest of the day free

  84. Tom responded on 14 March 2015 at 10:24pm Reply

    As a personal choice I would prefer 10:00 but I don't think that is the real problem.
    The ROH online ticket system has suffered far too many failures for a long time. The system should be made stable so there is no need to plan for failure which is what this appears to be.
    Get some IT people who can do the job or outsource it to a provider that works.

  85. Matthew responded on 15 March 2015 at 3:54pm Reply

    8am start time is ok, sadly whatever time you pick some people will be disappointed.

    What I find more worrying is the lack of seats available when friends booking opens. Not a single stalls circle standing was available for Netrebko. Is that because they are held back for general booking or are they already booked? Would be interested to hear from ROH.

  86. Andrew Stafford responded on 30 March 2015 at 4:23pm Reply

    I like it - much better time rather than having to join a queue later in the day.

  87. Chris Dawes responded on 2 April 2015 at 4:58pm Reply

    The old paper system, with applications randomly picked from your post bag, caused much less angst. 8am is a good change, and common with many arts organisations. 10am is bad: core work hours. Evenings and weekends people have even more diverse schedules (I'm out most evenings). I quite liked an early National Theatre system when booking opened at an unearthly hour (6am?), so if you were really keen....

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