The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of buying tickets.

Purchasing tickets is a quintessential stage of the theatre-going experience. Mainly because, if it doesn’t happen, then the consumer doesn’t actually go. But recent developments of ticket purchasing programs have both encouraged and hindered consumers to purchase tickets. Sound confusing? Let me explain.


The Good

Does anyone remember buying tickets two or three years ago? Well, the process went like this:

  1. Select the vague area/price range you would like to sit in
  2. Computer provides its opinion of the best seats available
  3. If you want better seats you had to hold onto that suggestion and go through the purchasing process again in hopes of better seats next time

Currently, on most ticket purchasing websites (unless you are using an Apple device which doesn’t have flash), the consumer is presented with a seating chart of the theatre and are able to pick from the entire range of available seats.

This encourages consumers for several reasons. Firstly, the purchase process is much easier and tailor-made for the consumers’ preferences. And secondly, if the show has very few available seats left then it appears ultra-popular and in order to stay with the ‘in’ crowd consumers are more likely to concede to peer-pressure and buy the tickets.

While this appears great, it only really works if the show is popular or the fans are desperate for tickets . . .

The Bad

If the show isn’t popular . . .

We said it was effective when peer-pressure and the need to conform to the ‘in’ crowd was in play. But when a consumer, who is just exploring their entertainment options, opens up a seating chart and it has a large proportion of available seats then it can encourage a couple of questions in the consumer’s mind:

Why are there so many tickets free? Why aren’t the tickets selling? Isn’t it very good?

The perception that tickets aren’t selling due to the quality of the performance can be detrimental to all those consumers who are not desperate for tickets. And previously when consumers could not see the seating plan, this phenomenon was not quite as obvious.

The Ugly

Ugly electronic tickets.

Now this topic really deserves a blog of its own. Surely I am not alone wanting proper paper tickets from the theatre rather than the current ‘Print at Home’ setup. And there is a reason why they shouldn’t be charging people more for the old-fashioned tickets. Longevity.

The digital tickets will disappear very quickly out of your email list and most likely the printed piece of paper will get lost, but people keep the old-fashioned tickets. And for a product that finishes 3 hours after it has started, the treasured ticket is a great reminder of what the audience member consumed.

Think of it as a free piece of merchandise!

So there you have it, the Good, Bad and Ugly of the ticket business. Let me know whether you think we should continue with the old-fashioned paper tickets or if I should grow up and start using my smartphone properly.