Industry response to The Stage’s 2013 ticketing survey
Jonathan Brown, secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers:
“This year’s survey by The Stage appears to show much lower booking fees but I think this will be as a result of how and where the test purchases have been made. We’re certainly now seeing an increase in inclusive pricing where the booking fee and face value are shown as a total at the beginning of an online transaction. This is in line with current guidelines from the Committee of Advertising Practice. It doesn’t mean there aren’t booking fees, simply that they are absorbed into the overall advertised price. The breakdown of face value and booking fees should, of course, still be available and the face value remains a crucial common denominator when comparing prices.
“Opinions on booking fees often get in the way of understanding the vital part that ticket agents play in the overall health of the West End. STAR members selling tickets for London theatre are closely involved in the sales activity for all major productions because of the terrific marketing reach they can bring and the pro-active role they take in helping to promote shows and selling vast numbers of tickets. Agents have been a vibrant part of West End theatre for many decades and deliver a great service to both ticket buyers and the industry – that’s why theatres, producers and marketing agencies work with them directly and value the work that they do.”
Matthew Byam Shaw on why producers for The Audience increased the price of their premium seats to £127:
“The price that [secondary ticket agent] Viagogo was charging for top price tickets [£500 for a pair] to the Audience was brought to the producers’ attention and we felt it was better that, as there was such a strong demand, that income came through the official channels and into the production, rather than was given to touts or secondary ticketing.”
Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird:
“Across member theatres of SOLT, the average net price paid per ticket in 2012 by nearly 14 million West End attenders was just £37.86 (down slightly from £37.97 in 2011).
“One of SOLT’s priorities continues to be addressing issues around access to the West End, and we know price is one of the major barriers to attendance for some segments of the population. For this reason, SOLT continues to organise and promote (on behalf of the whole theatre industry) a number of reduced price initiatives during the year including Kids Week and Get Into London Theatre, last year selling 129,160 tickets and 75,207 tickets respectively. SOLT also runs TKTS, a high profile, official source of discounted tickets.
“Year round SOLT’s sister charity, the Theatre Development Trust, supports initiatives like Mousetrap Theatre Project’s Family First Nights where not only issues around pricing are addressed, but a holistic approach is taken to support non-traditional audiences in their first visit to the West End.
“SOLT is pleased to be joining with many other partners in the new cross-art form Family Friendly initiative that has received £1.1 million from Arts Council England. This will build on some of the excellent practice in the West End, taking successful initiatives like Kids Week and Family First Nights to other places and art forms around the country.”
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