What Do You Think Of Ticket Booking Fees?
A necessary evil or a complete rip-off?
POSTED BY DAVID PIBWORTH ON 25/08/2015 @ 8:00AM
When I started up the Milton Keynes Theatre of Comedy, I decided to put in place a 'no booking fee' policy, which still stands to this day. When our customers buy a ticket to see one of our shows, the ticket price they see is the price they pay ...
Whatever production MKTOC puts on, there will never, ever be a ticket booking fee!
This is regardless of if they pay online, pay by cheque or phone up to buy over the phone. I would say that 75% of our audience now buy online. A few still don't trust computers and so either phone, or send in a cheque. We then invoice them and send the tickets out by post.
"But we don't put on any kind of booking fee whatsoever."
Everything is costed out and worked into the budget and the ticket prices are set, taking all overheads into account. It beggars belief how many theatre and music venues don't work this way and put on a booking fee of one sort or another.
In the old days, small companies would put the cost of a stamp on as most people wanted them sent by post = which was fair enough - but even then I would advise those who did it just to put the average cost to send out numerous tickets and put it into the initial ticket cost. It was just so much more open back then.
Transparency is what customers like in my opinion. That said, the booking fee is now gaining popularity. I know of a venue who even put on a booking fee if you pay by cash on the door, which seems to prove the fact that it's just a way to get more money as there is no extra work or costs involved there, is there?
If a venue charges a booking fee they are either inefficient, having forgotten an overhead, or just blatantly after more money than you initially see when you are hooked to buy a ticket.
No one else seems to try it on. On Saturday I bought a rather juicy looking watermelon from a local greengrocer. It was priced at £1.50. Hell of a good price I thought and that's what I paid him for it.
Now had I got to the till, he could have said "£2.95 please" and I'd have questioned it and he could have said "well, we have to put the cost of the handling of them and, what with coming in from Spain, I'm sure you understand". Of course he didn't, because a) he had, as a businessman costed his product and b) no one would come into his shop if he tried that sales ploy.
And yet the entertainment industry seems to get away with it more and more so I think that we should question it each and every time it happens and then maybe it will change.
The Milton Keynes Theatre of Comedy stand by our prices – and always will - as set out on the page and so when you see £13 full price, or £11 concessions (for young, old and unemployed) that is what you pay.
In fact, Monday tickets are all £11, as it's the first night. This is for Fawlty Towers on from the 14th – 19th September, less than a month away.
If our overheads go up on the next show, then we would have to put the ticket prices up, but we will not hide it behind a 'booking fee' and we always consider very carefully what is a fair price.
"I don't always think I'm right, but on this matter I am."
Apart from the fact that our shows are brilliant, due to a fantastic cast, crew and audience, people do like the fact that we don't hide any costs within the rather shady title of booking fees.
Until next time ...
Presenting Dave Pib's Mad Magic Trick Of The Week ...
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.
Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.
He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.
He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.
David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.