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Fun and Games with ROH Package Booking


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Oh dear, we have the curse of Kaufmann again.  His Fidelio is not included in the Mixed Packages for Ballet and Opera but is included in the Total Opera.  Fair enough, (just), but hey, guess what, all the packages in Total Opera sold out before booking opens.  Oh dear ROH, you don't want your regulars unless they are prepared to pay for enhanced access in which case the General Public can go do the other thing.

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I’m fairly sure that, as with Forza last season, they didn’t put an upper limit (beyond the usual) on the number of tickets Friends could buy for Fidelio. Speaking as a Friend+ who had no trouble getting a seat which suited me, I find this downright rude to the general public - unless they’ve held back a higher than usual number of tickets for general booking, that is.

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I'm a Friend+ and got a ticket for Fidelio as part of a Design Your Own Package in the Stalls Circle.  Bur I see now that it's not included.  

 

I wonder how many tickets are being held back for general booking as it's showing as pretty much sold out at the moment - either sold out or under 20 tickets left per performance.

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As a non-friend/member I completely understand members will get a certain level of special treatment.

 

However I would hope and expect there to be a reasonable number of (lower price) tickets available for the general public. My definition of ‘reasonable’ may be different to ROH’s...

 

Not looking forward to the bunfight on general booking day! 

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1 hour ago, onemouseplace said:

I'm a Friend+ and got a ticket for Fidelio as part of a Design Your Own Package in the Stalls Circle.  Bur I see now that it's not included.  

 

 

Which might suggest that it was in the package but taken out once the allocation was sold out?  Seems understandable to me.

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9 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

Which might suggest that it was in the package but taken out once the allocation was sold out?  Seems understandable to me.

Oh good.

 

To us lesser mortals it is hard to understand how an allocation can be sold out at 0900. 

 

For ROH box office, why don’t you just come clean and say upfront that Tickets for Kaufman can only be purchased by Friends?  It would be far more honest.  Tired of all the pseudo egalitarianism.  

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11 hours ago, JNC said:

As a non-friend/member I completely understand members will get a certain level of special treatment.

 

However I would hope and expect there to be a reasonable number of (lower price) tickets available for the general public. My definition of ‘reasonable’ may be different to ROH’s...

 

Not looking forward to the bunfight on general booking day! 

Agree JNC.  It’s all this pretence that gets me.  If I can’t get to see Kaufman without  becoming a Friend then why not say so?  WithForzawe had the great ‘website malfunction’ scam.  Now we’re expected to believe that all the tickets for Fidelio packages sold out at 090o.  Humbug.

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  • alison changed the title to Fun and Games with Package Booking
23 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

 If I can’t get to see Kaufman without  becoming a Friend then why not say so? 

 

Apropos this, I've just read an email from the ROH to Friends that includes this sentence "For example, with fewer than 100 tickets now remaining across the run, we anticipate that Fidelio will sell out to Friends like you." Which is certainly interesting in light of the common belief that 20% of tickets are held back for public booking. If I'm reading it correctly then that sentence indicates that's not the case for Fidelio, which seems unfair. (And I say that as someone who isn't interested in seeing Fidelio.)

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Thanks for that Dawnstar.  I really would have hoped they had learned their lesson with the furore over Forza but, seemingly not.  Clearly there is something to hide or surely they would come clean and be upfront about some productions being reserved for Friends only.  I really hate this behaviour and not just because I want to see Fidelio, but because I want to trust a place I love and where I have spent tens of thousands of pounds over the years.

 

The message you’ve posted almost sounds like an invitation to Friends to hoover up as many tickets as possible. Gutted. I will check this out tomorrow and, if correct, alert the relevant media.

Edited by penelopesimpson
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Wow I have to say I’m a bit shocked as well as being disappointed. ROH certainly should not be allowing members of the public (ie non members/friends) to buy ALL of the tickets - I thought the 20% quota was a requirement of them getting public funding - because if public can’t access performances arguably their public funding should be cut/non-existent. If anything I think 20% is too low and more like 30-40% tickets should be kept back! 

 

There should be a limit on the number of tickets friends can buy for each performance as otherwise it gets a bit unfair. 

 

I’m not advocating further public spending cuts to ROH, merely making the point that as it’s part taxpayer funded/supported (which I think is right to support the arts) then the public should be able to go to ROH for any performances if they want and are willing to pay a reasonable amount. Regardless of the public funding issue I think as part of diversity/open up etc agendas it’s the right thing to do anyway. 

 

The fact that ROH are advertising and messaging friends with this message is rather underhand (speaking as a non friend). You shouldn’t have to become a member to see popular shows. 

 

I imagine there will only be more disappointment if/when tickets are sold for silly prices by third party sellers...hopefully the bad press from Forza will have stamped this out but perhaps not. 

Edited by JNC
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Can we hold our horses for a bit and check that they really mean that no tickets have been held back for general booking? I agree that they appear to be saying this, but the wording is pretty clumsy - I first read it as saying that the Friends' allocation had fewer than a hundred tickets left and that these would go soon.

 

It could also just be a case of whoever wrote this misunderstanding what they had been told.

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53 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

Can we hold our horses for a bit and check that they really mean that no tickets have been held back for general booking? I agree that they appear to be saying this, but the wording is pretty clumsy - I first read it as saying that the Friends' allocation had fewer than a hundred tickets left and that these would go soon.

 

It could also just be a case of whoever wrote this misunderstanding what they had been told.

 

I agree.  My first thought (and abiding hope) was that it was clumsy drafting.

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1 hour ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

I agree.  My first thought (and abiding hope) was that it was clumsy drafting.

 

I hope so. You never know nowadays (yes I'm getting old) if someone actually means what they appear to mean.

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3 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

Can we hold our horses for a bit and check that they really mean that no tickets have been held back for general booking? I agree that they appear to be saying this, but the wording is pretty clumsy - I first read it as saying that the Friends' allocation had fewer than a hundred tickets left and that these would go soon.

 

It could also just be a case of whoever wrote this misunderstanding what they had been told.

 

That is why I said "If I'm reading it correctly". As someone who spent 15 years wrestling with general public booking in the belief that there was at least a chance of being able to get a ticket for all productions then I hope it is incorrect. It was depressing enough that it became apparent once the Linbury re-opened that it is now extremely difficult to get tickets for anything popular on in there.

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I should really type this in capitals but I know how annoying that is so please take this as a shout:  At 18.06 today, Box Office confirmed that there is no allocation of Fidelio seats for the general public.  The marketing department 'working with Friends' determined the strategy.  I asked the young man I was speaking to if he was aware of the furore over La Forza and he said he was.  I didn't push him further as felt it a little unfair to put him on the spot but the way he hedged around my initial questions confirmed that he is aware there is a problem.

 

I think this is about as low as ROH can go.  They are publicly funded and we are frequently told that the reason we have to have non ticket-holders occupying precious space in the bars and on the terrace is to fulfil ROH's status as in receipt of funding from the taxpayers purse.   Now we learn that some performances are to be restricted to those who pay for access.

 

I intend to make all the relevant media fully aware of what is going on, as well as telephoning Alex Beard.  Oh, and as I speak there are 46 Fidelio tickets for sale on Viagogo so we know their origin, don't we.

 

If there was anywhere else to go, I would never visit ROH again.  This reeks like rotten fish.  Wonder if Kaufman knows?

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I'm disappointed to have that confirmed. I had hoped that I'd misinterpreted their email, but no.

 

If the ROH are going to choose not to make any tickets for a production available for public booking then, quite apart from the ethics in relation to public funding, I feel that they should put a notice up on their website to that effect in advance. Otherwise there are going to be a lot of people attempting to get tickets when public booking opens, not realising that there is no point in doing so. It would also enable regular attendees who do not have Friends membership themselves but who might know people with membership to see if they can get someone to get them a ticket.

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I agree that is pretty shocking. Not having a special upper limit on tickets was bad enough - and it incentivises touts to sign up as Friends; not holding back any tickets for general release is something else entirely.

 

I wonder what "working with Friends" means: it's not something that has been mentioned in any communications as far as I'm aware. And I don't see the logic in doing things this way, seeing as it hasn't been used as a selling point for Friends membership and only further bad press can result.

 

I'm sure ROH will trot out the line about Friday Rush tickets, but that is a very poor defence IMO.

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Having complained about the difficulties in accessing News items, I was pleased to find the Forza thread pretty easily (searched for Viagogo) and thought it might be of interest given the disappointing Fidelio news:

 

https://www.roh.org.uk/news/la-forza-del-destino-the-royal-opera-houses-position-on-viagogo

 

A number of questions were asked, including the 20% minimum general public allocation, but the questions were not answered.  My understanding (but never confirmed) is that the 20% is an average for the season.  If that is the case it seems unfair.  Also the Royal Opera House should be much more forthcoming in answering questions and making explicit its policies.  Hopefully the ROH will cancel any Friends’ memberships if tickets are put up for resale (and I know some memberships were cancelled over Forza resales).

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I feel like you do when a much-loved friend lets you down.

 

Quite apart from the dubious ethics, the strategy isn’t even being executed competently.  Here’s a rundown of the conversations:

 

’Good evening.  I want to enquire about Fidelio tickets next year.’

’There are none available but you could watch for returns.’

’I tried to buy some when Packages opened for General Booking but even at 0900 it said sold out.’

’Yes, that’s correct.  They had all been sold to Friends. It’s very popular.’

’So what about when General Booking opens in a week or so ?’

’You will have to look for returns’

So are there no tickets available unless you are a Friend.?’

’You should write in to our Customer Relations department.’

’Are you aware of the media furore over La Forza?’’

’Yes.  You will need to look for returns.’

’Okay. But can you confirm that there are no Fidelio tickets going on sale to the General Public.?

’Yes.  This was decided by Marketing working with Friends.  I think you should speak to our public relations department.’

 

Clearly they know there is a looming problem but have not been briefed as to how to handle it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it really a furore outside of this thread? Is the ROH obliged to ensure that 20% of each performance are held back, rather than 20% of overall tickets? How many other popular theatres partially funded by public money meet these criteria?

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11 minutes ago, Coated said:

Is it really a furore outside of this thread? Is the ROH obliged to ensure that 20% of each performance are held back, rather than 20% of overall tickets? How many other popular theatres partially funded by public money meet these criteria?

 

That's a fair point - I suppose one answer is that most places don't have to!

 

On the other hand, I'm fairly sure that the Wigmore Hall for one usually sells out for its starriest recitals before the general public gets a sniff at buying a ticket - and I've never seen any criticism of its ticket sales policies (or indeed the rather homogeneous nature of its audience).

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I am incredibly disappointed and feel let down by ROH. 

 

As @penelopesimpson and @Dawnstar said earlier if there is a chance that tickets could sell out to friends then ROH should make that clear - in their friends marketing it doesn’t state this, nor does it say anywhere on the Fidelio page or any other ROH page that there is a possibility there will be no tickets available for sale to the general public. 

 

On the Fidelio page currently it just says; ‘not yet on sale’ with the general booking date. If it has sold out the very least they could do is inform people so people don’t waste their time on the 24th hoping for a Fidelio ticket! 

 

However I still maintain there should be a selection of tickets kept back for general public booking. Firstly, because as a taxpayer funded organisation I think the general public should have access to ALL performances, not just the ‘unpopular’ ones. And secondly because this is what’s fair and right - especially when they claim to not be elitist and all for diverse audiences - this situation has completely undermined that. At least with Forza they could claim unprecedented demand etc but there is no excuse here. Is there a general marketing department or policy team that pushed back against the idea of selling out to friends? I presume either way Alex Beard oked the approach. They need to clarify their policies around this and make them public. And 20% across the whole season is poor and too little. Clearly this hasn’t been a problem as other productions aren’t as popular but can you imagine if suddenly members’ surged in numbers and for example, no Swan Lake tickets were available to the general public? I know the reality is this wouldn’t happen but it could if this is the policy! I’m sure a lot of friends would be completely fine (or at least understanding) of the idea that some tickets would be held back for the general public, so this seemed unnecessarily aggressive from their marketing department...

 

I will be writing in to complain too. Certainly those who purchased tickets to be resold on viagogo should have their tickets cancelled (so they can be resold by ROH) and the members banned. Why they didn’t put a members’ cap on tickets I don’t know! 

 

The main reason I go to ROH is for the Royal Ballet. I was just starting to get interested in seeing more opera but was already balking a little at the much higher ticket prices, and this is now another barrier for me and has put me off again. I’m not going to lie and say I’ll never see an opera again at ROH because that would be untrue and I don’t want to limit myself, but if anything this has ironically discouraged me from supporting them as friend (I considered signing up earlier this year) as actually I find I generally get the ballet tickets I want on general booking and I don’t feel like I should have to pay to get tickets anyway - I don’t want to support that tickets could/should sell out to friends only! 

 

(Sorry if this has formatted oddly, I moved some things around in the hope that it would make better sense, that paragraph isn’t meant to be in a larger font and I don’t know how to get it back to normal size!) 

 

Edited by JNC
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  • alison changed the title to Fun and Games with ROH Package Booking

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