The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers has joined with the Theatrical Management Association to encourage smaller, regional venues to help tackle unscrupulous ticket-selling practices.
STAR, the independent body that regulates the ticketing industry, has offered an umbrella membership to TMA’s not-for-profit members. It is inviting theatres outside London with 950 seats or fewer to sign up and learn how to educate their customers about buying tickets from official sources.
The new members will also have to adhere to STAR’s code of practice, which lays out guidance for providing customer service to audiences. This includes transparency about booking fees and refunds for cancellation.
Currently, STAR’s members include larger venues, both in and out of London, or commercial agents that sell tickets on behalf of theatres. By offering membership to smaller, regional venues with box offices selling directly to audiences, the regulatory body hopes to share its knowledge more widely about Advertising Standards Authority rulings as well.
In recent months there have been a series of these rulings, which have censured a number of London theatres, including the Old Vic, Charing Cross Theatre and Jackson’s Lane, for quoting misleading ticket prices on their websites.
STAR held an open meeting in the West End in response to this to brief the entertainment sector about new official rules for advertising ticket prices – specifically with reference to booking fees – which many TMA members attended, according to STAR secretary Jonathan Brown.
Brown said: “This is about creating a common level of service and practice so that the code is spread all the way through regional theatres and helps to educate customers about safe ticket-buying practices because a lot of people who get ripped off come from outside of London.
“Regional venues don’t have as many issues with resale or touting of tickets or fraudulent sales in the same way as London venues, but their customers do buy tickets for other events where they will meet those issues.”
David Brownlee, executive director of the TMA, said: “This new alliance between the TMA and STAR is excellent news for consumers, our members and the industry as a whole. TMA members will have a greater voice in discussions with government around changes to legislation and guidance around ticketing that could have a major impact on their business.”