Ambassador Theatre Group has introduced a revised booking fee structure across its network of regional venues, which will see between £1.90 and £4.90 added to the face value of each ticket when purchased online or by telephone.
The venue operator is the UK’s largest theatre owner and manager with 27 theatres and nearly 37,000 seats outside London.
This month, it announced an overhaul to booking fees in its regional venues – the new fees do not affect its 12 London theatres. According to ATG, the structure will simplify charges and will result in the average amount paid in booking fees reduced by around 10%.
Simon Palethorpe, managing director for ATG Tickets, told The Stage the changes represent the latest step in rationalising ticketing across the group, but it was still a “work in progress” and the group had yet to address differences in transaction fees across the venues.
He said: “The fee structure was a bit complex. It had come about because of the acquisition of the Live Nation theatre venues [ATG purchased Live Nation's UK Theatres in 2005], so we had lots of different structures – depending on the location of the venue, depending on whether it was an old ATG or old Live Nation venue. That didn’t make a lot of sense.”
According to Palethorpe, the old system had booking fees priced at £2.50, £4 and £5.25, although there was significant variation between venues. The new structure will see three basic levels of booking fee across all ATG regional venues.
Musicals and premium one-nighters will attract a charge of £3.90 per ticket, drama and other one-nighters will be £2.90 a ticket and children’s programming will have a booking fee of £1.90 per ticket. Booking fees will be reduced by £1 to a minimum of £1.90 if the face value of the ticket is less than £15, while it will be increased by £1 if the face value is more than £50. On top of this, ATG will continue to charge a transaction fee, charged per transaction no matter how many tickets are bought, which ranges from £2.85 to £4 depending on the venue.
“We wanted to try to keep it as simple as we can,” Palethorpe added. “In particular we were getting quite a lot of consumer feedback that the £5.25 per ticket fee was going too far – especially since a lot of that was on one-nighter shows which tended to actually have a slightly lower price point for the face value than many of the drama and musical products. So, we’ve brought those charges into line with musicals.
“Overall, more tickets have come down in price than have gone up in price – in terms of the fees we are charging – and, overall, if you were to take our current basket of tickets we sell in a year, this is a very significant reduction in the overall fee levels we are charging. Part of my job is to try to sell more of our tickets and more of other people’s tickets – if I can persuade them that we can do a good ticketing service for them – and make up that revenue shortfall.”
Booking fees and transaction fees are not charged if tickets are bought in person at the box office or if the purchaser is a holder of an ATG Theatre Card – the group’s £30 annual membership scheme.
The news follows the results of The Stage’s investigation into West End ticketing earlier this month. The survey discovered that the highest booking fee charged in the West End was £12.25, while the average fee was £2.21 in the non-subsidised West End.