Leading venues including the National Theatre have revealed they are introducing paperless ticketing in a bid to reduce their environmental impact and improve the customer experience.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LW Theatres is also among those expanding their digital ticketing offering, and is planning to bring in mobile tickets for its audiences.
At present, a paper ticket remains the only option in most British theatres, with the Old Vic believed to be the only major venue to offer a fully digital system, which it introduced in 2017.
Now, the National Theatre has revealed plans to introduce e-tickets, which are sent as an email attachment and can be scanned via barcode on an audience member’s phone, in the next few months.
A spokeswoman said: “We are keen to introduce e-tickets for a variety of reasons, including reducing the impact on the environment through the printing of paper tickets and also to improve the customer experience by removing the need to collect tickets at the box office on arrival at the theatre.”
LW Theatres told The Stage it was set to launch a new paperless mobile ticketing option across its six West End venues, which will allow customers to store their tickets on their phone.
A spokeswoman said: “LW Theatres has actually been scanning barcodes from e-tickets as a means of accessing our theatres since 2017. So in effect, we already have a paperless option.
“The mobile ticket takes this to the next level of convenience, without the need to store emails or attachments.”
She added that LW Theatres was hoping to make the customer experience “as simple, quick and frictionless as possible” and provide greater protection from “fraud, touting and theft”.
Musical Hamilton introduced paperless ticketing to combat touts when it opened in 2017. However, this year it will revert to paper tickets.
HQ Theatres, which operates 13 venues around the UK, said it was currently reviewing its ticketing options and exploring the introduction of mobile and paperless ticketing options alongside traditional methods.
“From a customer perspective it offers a seamless booking process – immediate confirmation and possession of the tickets they have purchased,” a spokesman said.
“From a venue perspective, a paperless approach reduces the environmental impact of printed tickets as well as offering greater security against resale through the secondary ticketing market.”
Ambassador Theatre Group is also planning to trial paperless tickets in some of its venues over the next year.
Group ticketing director Saad Afzal said: “Although we’ve not encountered huge demand from customers to date, we do recognise the convenience and sustainability advantages digital tickets offer.”
Venues that already offer audiences a paperless option alongside the traditional choice of printed tickets include the Lyric Hammersmith in London, which introduced e-tickets in May, Leicester’s Curve, which said it hopes to move to an entirely paperless model in the future, and West End operator Nimax Theatres.
Nimax co-owner Nica Burns said: “Customer experience is important to us, as is assisting our producers to maximise the ticket sales for their shows, so we offer choice and flexibility.”
The Stage also spoke to the organisers of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which made a commitment in 2018 to reduce paper usage by at least 35% by 2022. This will include exploring paperless ticketing options.