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 Although we’ve spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding an outdated and unstable ticketing system over the past few years we know that problems related to our new systems have caused huge frustration and inconvenience for our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.