Welcome to The Ticketing Institute
Launched in 2010, the Ticketing Institute is here to help you take up the new opportunites for ticketing, marketing and CRM, digital marketing and social media integration, here to help you to work smarter, and here to help you drive more audience development = more people, new people, attending more, enjoying the arts more, more often. We are helping more and more organisations with their ticketing system tender processes, including local authorities. The Functionality Builder now has over 500 criteria created by user organisations across Europe, the US and Canada.
The Ticketing Institute is Roger Tomlinson's website as a resource for the cultural sector, so people working in arts and entertainment organisations, museums and galleries, can share experience and knowledge around customer facing practices and technologies, to drive audience development and more effective marketing.
Sharing encompasses marketing, ticketing, customer relationship management (CRM), memberships, loyalty schemes, websites, on-line sales and e-commerce, e-marketing, Facebook integration and social media networking. Working with the right tools (at the right cost) has never been more important.
Look inside for details on selecting and procuring systems and digital technologies as well as advice on how to get the most out of them. Since this is intended to be a professional community, we ask you to sign in for in-depth access, and we'll notify you of content updates on a regular basis. Since we believe in Data Protection, your data will not be shared with anyone.
The Ticketing Institute includes a powerful application: the Functionality Builder, created to share the benefit of detailed "functionality specifications" for users wanting to procure new systems. This is behind a paywall since it is part of the Roger Tomlinson Limited service.
Double jeopardy on fees?
Venues are at risk of prosecution in two ways around the same issue: booking fees and how they are applied and presented. Venues need to act immediately to change their practices.
The UK Coaltion Government rushed out very late before Easter the new guidance on the law on debit and credit card charges and surcharges which came into force on 6 April 2013. This follows on the recent Advertising Standards Authority rulings about the misleading advertising of ticket prices.
If fees are described as covering payment methods in relation to debit and credit card processing charges, then the fee charged must reflect the average true cost of processing the transaction. The consumer protection group Which? has suggested this would be on average 20p to 50p for debit cards and 2% for credit cards. If a venue wants to continue making a surcharge for paying by cards then they will be restricted to these low actual averages and must stop charging more immediately.
This does not stop the charging of any fees but means venues must be clear about what their fees are for.
Combined with the Advertising Standards Authority rulings on what constitutes misleading advertising in relation to ticket prices, this does mean that venues - and their ticketing system suppliers - will need to change their presentation of fees and charges immediately, especially on-line. But all advertising messages, including in brochures and on flyers, need to conform straight-away.
It has long been the law that you could not advertise a price unless you could actually buy the ticket for that price and no more. Most venues achieved this by not charging through certain channels, or complied by not charging for cash transactions. Unfortunately, the latter made the charge related to a payment method which has now become unlawful.
Correctly, whenever a price is advertised today, it needs to be stated next to the price that booking fees or administration charges apply and the amount given, without any reference to payment method. The concept of advertising the prices in one place, and customers finding the details of the fees and charges somewhere else is wrong. We are seeing prices listed with the actual booking fees "£25+£1.50 booking fee" whenever the price is listed. This is because "misleading advertising" can be prosecuted. This would be "£25+£1.50 per transaction booking fee" for a 'transaction' based fee.
The UK Coalition Government Guidance note
Advertising ticket prices the right way
What price that ticket? Are we making sure we are advertising ticket prices to comply with UK law and codes of advertising practice?
The Theatrical Management Association has issued new guidance to its members in the UK on the advertising of ticket prices. Essentially, ticket prices when advertised must be inclusive of the booking fees and service charges imposed on the purchase. Advertising as defined by the Advertising Standards Authority extends to a venue or producer’s own print and posters, websites, social media and other distributed information and not just paid-for advertising.
The TMA has acted after the Ambassadors Theatre Group, the Old Vic, and Cheltenham Everyman Theatre was approached by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) following on public complaints about imposed booking fees which cannot be avoided. There is considerable argument about what is the right way to present this, but Jonathan Brown of S.T.A.R. confirms "If you advertise a ticket price, you have to be able to buy it for that price, somewhere". The CAP and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have published detailed guidance and interpretations in relation to ticket prices and purchase Terms and Conditions which have largely been ignored by many venues since December 2001. These codes of practice supplement the law and the ASA rulings are intended to be a new benchmark across the ticketing sector.
Debbie Richards of Baker Richards points out that this will require detailed presentational changes for venues that have chosen 'per transaction' fees and charge different fees for different channels, but it will still be possible to comply if the information is given whenever prices are quoted.
This is fairly simple: you cannot advertise something using a price to attract attention and then for consumers not to be able to buy it for that price. The arts and entertainment industry needs a fair and healthy relationship with its customers, especially in a time of cuts to funding. Many venues, especially presenting theatres and concert halls, are introducing or increasing booking fees, which in a recession may itself upset some customers. Advertising the new “prices” in the right way is essential. There is an irony here: according to the OFT, consumers prefer inclusive prices, so advertising inclusive prices is likely to be viewed by ticket purchasers as a benefit.
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