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The ROH booking website - what can we do?


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Just now, FionaE said:

@Dawnstarand @FLOSS

 

I agree that the website layout of What’s On is awful.   
 

From what I’ve seen of other opera houses websites.. they have the first button choice being Opera or Ballet.  ROH could have 3 … Ballet, Opera and ‘Open to All’ or some other catch all phrase for tours, Tea dances etc.  
 

There are many ways to sub-divide things, but I agree that main house performances should be first.  


My preference would be 

- main stage

- secondary stage 

- cinema & online

- rehearsals

- insights

- other 

 

Completely agree, but I imagine the current layout is intended both to show how varied the ROH's offering is and to avoid implying that main stage performances are in any way deemed to be more important than any other events. (Which of course they are. Just saying.) The fact that this approach results in an incoherent mess seems not to matter.

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The irritating thing is they used to have a really great performance page that you thought they could have kept in tandem with the What's On. It was seasonal (can't remember if it just came out every season or if it was issued at the start of the year and divided into seasons). It just listed all the main stage operas and ballets being performed every season. Every title was a link that took you direct to that particular event with no need for a lot of irritating scrolling through pages of stuff you've no interest in. I used to bookmark it every season and had hours of fun just going through, checking casting and seat availability and possibly being tempted into buying another ticket. When it first vanished I emailed Graham Boland about it and he just said it wasn't being produced any more. But surely it didn't take so much effort and it is so useful for regulars who prioritise ease of information over a flashy but ultimately irritating booking system we've got now. It's what seriously started me thinking that the ROH web designers have no idea about the needs of their trusted regulars and are only interested in courting a new audience (though why they think new audiences want to struggle through pages of waffle is beyond me). It was almost worth joining the Friends just to click on the membership performance links without having to go through all the scrolling, though I noticed the Spring programme which is current at the moment has a back and forward arrow I can't seem to activate. It would be good to have the winter and summer links as well just for dates.

Edited by jmhopton
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22 minutes ago, bridiem said:

Completely agree, but I imagine the current layout is intended both to show how varied the ROH's offering is and to avoid implying that main stage performances are in any way deemed to be more important than any other events. (Which of course they are. Just saying.) The fact that this approach results in an incoherent mess seems not to matter.

 

Surely the ROH should consider the main stage performances the most important, in terms of the number of tickets available to be sold. The vast majority of the ROH's ticket income must come from main stage performances. If they want visitors to their website to buy tickets then they should be making the events that need to sell 2000 tickets a night the most visible.

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1 minute ago, Dawnstar said:

 

Surely the ROH should consider the main stage performances the most important, in terms of the number of tickets available to be sold. The vast majority of the ROH's ticket income must come from main stage performances. If they want visitors to their website to buy tickets then they should be making the events that need to sell 2000 tickets a night the most visible.

 

Absolutely. But that would smack of elitism... (Maybe I'm being too cynical. But I really can't think of any sensible reason for not giving due prominence to their biggest and most important offerings.) 

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36 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

Completely agree, but I imagine the current layout is intended both to show how varied the ROH's offering is and to avoid implying that main stage performances are in any way deemed to be more important than any other events. (Which of course they are. Just saying.) The fact that this approach results in an incoherent mess seems not to matter.

Agree, it gets on my nerves and i would be really confused if I was trying to book a show for the first time and just wanted to see exactly what was available. 

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If they think trying to prioritise main stage ticket sales is elitist then I think they should reconsider their views on elitism! If anything it's more elitist showing with equal promenance performances in the smaller spaces as it's much harder to get tickets for those, given they often sell out before general public booking opens. If I was thinking of going to the ROH for the first time but the first few events I saw listed on the website were shown as sold out or with limited ticket availability - because they were in the smaller spaces but I as a newcomer didn't understand that - then that might put me off, thinking it's going to be too difficult to get tickets for anything.

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46 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

As a matter of interest do other ticket sites that release large-scale events on specific dates have similar issues?

Unfortunately, I can't get to the RSC in Stratford now, but I used to attend regularly and always found their website excellent. Looking at it today, it gives clear, well laid out information good casting information (probably a bit easier when you don't have multiple casts like the ROH). I used to book multiple performances with only the occasional small problem. It's also very informative and easy to navigate.

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16 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

As a matter of interest do other ticket sites that release large-scale events on specific dates have similar issues?


No … based on my recent experience of bookings at Paris and Munich.  
 

But you raise a good question … perhaps they spread their performance releases better.  

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18 hours ago, oncnp said:

 

But not why it wasn't properly tested internally prior to be rolled out. 

 

That is the really shocking thing.  Of course it should have been properly tested, and I would like to know exactly what they did do.   Ok, maybe they cannot replicate the number of users logging on for the first day of the new booking season, but they could and should have anticipated many of the issues people are experiencing.  After all, it is not the first time a new website has been rolled out.     

I speak as one who has done a lot of testing in my time.   The developers used to pretend to run away and hide whenever I appeared on the horizon, and I think it is fair to say I was not their favourite person!  But every roll out we did was done with the minimum of fuss, and that was for a multi national company.  

 

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2 hours ago, FionaE said:


No … based on my recent experience of bookings at Paris and Munich.  
 

But you raise a good question … perhaps they spread their performance releases better.  

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again - surely there's no need to have so few booking periods during the season.  I know that some people who book, say, both opera and ballet would be inconvenienced, but I see no reason why opera and ballet booking couldn't be split, and/or we could go back to 5 or 6 booking periods a year.

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2 minutes ago, alison said:

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again - surely there's no need to have so few booking periods during the season.  I know that some people who book, say, both opera and ballet would be inconvenienced, but I see no reason why opera and ballet booking couldn't be split, and/or we could go back to 5 or 6 booking periods a year.

 

I assume they do this in order to get as much money in as early as possible in the season.

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I once sat next to someone who worked in a job where she didn't have access to a computer. In order to be there for the initial scrum she took the morning or day off. That to me is a powerful argument for keeping the number of release days to a minimum.

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2 hours ago, FionaE said:


No … based on my recent experience of bookings at Paris and Munich.  
 

But you raise a good question … perhaps they spread their performance releases better.  

 

Unless they've changed the booking process for Munich in the last couple of years, it is somewhat opaque - I'd rather take my chances with the ROH system as it is.

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5 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

Unless they've changed the booking process for Munich in the last couple of years, it is somewhat opaque - I'd rather take my chances with the ROH system as it is.


And to be fair to ROH they do offer casting many months in advance which is not the case ANYWHERE else.  
 

Though clearly that has nothing to do with whether a booking system works.  

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Received today...

Friends' On Sale  - An Apology

A personal message from Alex Beard, Chief Executive


Dear Friends of Covent Garden,

Firstly, I wanted to offer all of you my personal apologies for the issues many of you have experienced around booking in recent weeks, and specifically the issues around our website as we upgrade our systems. Indeed, your broader patience and support throughout the course of the last two years has been monumental, and we wouldn't have survived without you. You are, quite simply, what keeps the Royal Opera House going.

I have read your emails and letters over the last few days and wanted to explain some of the background to these issues, and what we are putting in place to avoid this kind of thing from ever happening again.

Our old booking system is reaching a stage where the technology underpinning it will soon become obsolete, unsupported by any global platform and therefore, essentially, unusable. That is why, over the last few months, we have been working hard to upgrade our systems on a trial basis, working towards the full rollout of a superior system later this Season. However, as many of you have experienced first-hand, this new system still needs to be honed and refined, and has inadvertently resulted in many of you receiving a totally unacceptable level of customer service. I would therefore like to assure you that any further upgrades will be fully tested internally before going live to ensure this doesn't happen again.

The issue I know has been compounded by many of you not being able to reach members of our box office to resolve the issue. I would therefore like to reassure you that, to maintain our flexible booking options during this time, we are reinforcing resource in these teams, and have hired more staff, so we can deal with queries in a more timely fashion, particularly during peak times.

By way of an apology for falling short of the standards you rightly expect, I would like to offer each of you one free programme for the next show you attend here in Covent Garden during the 2022 Spring Season. Please simply show this email on your phone, as well as your membership card, to a member of our front of house team on your next visit, and you will be given a programme free of charge.

Thank you so much for your steadfast support of the Royal Opera House, and I look forward to welcoming you here again very soon.

With all best wishes,

Alex Beard 

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The What’s On section is a complete mystery to anyone who doesn’t somehow already know what the Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and Linbury programmes are. The new layout seems to be designed to reduce ticket sales. 

 

If I try to look for something that I want eg Swan Lake or Tosca, the usual thing any human will do is scroll down the “what’s on” page. There are so many miscellaneous items, eg tours, live-streams, streamed recordings, some community workshop, Insights evenings, etc that it’s about 2 pages before you eventually find the show. Most normal humans will have given up by then and gone off to browse the Albert Hall, Sadlers Wells or maybe the local multiplex instead. I have given up scrolling and just search for my show under “search” instead. If any visitor wants a tour or Insights Evening, I think they’re more likely to search under a heading for that relevant activity.

 

My device has somehow saved as a shortcut the Friday Rush page (probably due to the time I was browsing through returns and Friday Rush) and actually, that’s the most helpful shortcut for finding out what’s on in the coming week and a quick route to casting. 😁 

 

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7 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

The What’s On section is a complete mystery to anyone who doesn’t somehow already know what the Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and Linbury programmes are. The new layout seems to be designed to reduce ticket sales. 

 

If I try to look for something that I want eg Swan Lake or Tosca, the usual thing any human will do is scroll down the “what’s on” page. There are so many miscellaneous items, eg tours, live-streams, streamed recordings, some community workshop, Insights evenings, etc that it’s about 2 pages before you eventually find the show. Most normal humans will have given up by then and gone off to browse the Albert Hall, Sadlers Wells or maybe the local multiplex instead. I have given up scrolling and just search for my show under “search” instead. If any visitor wants a tour or Insights Evening, I think they’re more likely to search under a heading for that relevant activity.

 

 

I agree, it's incredibly noisy.

 

Back a few years ago I was approached in the foyer by someone doing research on the then newly-redesigned website and made exactly this point, and I doubt I was the only one. Nothing seems to have changed though!

 

For comparison, see the RSC What's On page, which has a much more prominent banner asking you to narrow your search down: https://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/

Edited by Lizbie1
added RSC stuff
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I think communication within the ROH could be improved. The new Friends magazine has just arrived, and it has details of a new film from Matthew Ball, Icarus.  The magazine says that he will "introduce Icarus at an Insight event in the Linbury Theatre. See ROH.org.uk for details" . But right now there are no such details to be found on the site. you might think that announcements like this would be co ordinated between departments. 

 

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And of course all those What's On events presumably change places according to when they're next on, so something which may have been near the top one day may be way down the page the next, which must be confusing to people who don't browse it regularly - and even to some of us who do! 

 

They could probably do with a couple of columns, one for the main stage and one for everything else - it would be clearer.  But I guess that wouldn't be smartphone-friendly (although of course there's no reason why people couldn't turn their phones round). 

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18 minutes ago, Lynette H said:

I think communication within the ROH could be improved. The new Friends magazine has just arrived, and it has details of a new film from Matthew Ball, Icarus.  The magazine says that he will "introduce Icarus at an Insight event in the Linbury Theatre. See ROH.org.uk for details" . But right now there are no such details to be found on the site. you might think that announcements like this would be co ordinated between departments. 

 

but they do know the price....

 

Insights: Taking Shape Date TBC, 7.30–8.45pm Watch works in progress by young choreographers in the dance world and gain an insight into their creative process. £11–£20, Linbury Theatre

 

and another I didn't see listed yet

 

Tue 7 June 

Insights: Australian ballet at the Royal Opera House 7.30pm

Edited by oncnp
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41 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

The What’s On section is a complete mystery to anyone who doesn’t somehow already know what the Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and Linbury programmes are. The new layout seems to be designed to reduce ticket sales. 

 

If I try to look for something that I want eg Swan Lake or Tosca, the usual thing any human will do is scroll down the “what’s on” page. There are so many miscellaneous items, eg tours, live-streams, streamed recordings, some community workshop, Insights evenings, etc that it’s about 2 pages before you eventually find the show.

 

 

Use the filters at the the top of the list....clicking on event type 'Ballet & Dance' gives you 18 items for the rest of the season...additionally clicking on venue 'Main Stage' gives you seven.

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7 minutes ago, Rob S said:

Use the filters at the the top of the list....clicking on event type 'Ballet & Dance' gives you 18 items for the rest of the season...additionally clicking on venue 'Main Stage' gives you seven.

 

That does help, but it's not immediately obvious, it's fiddly and it relies on people already knowing what they're looking for and where it's going to be on. The customer shouldn't have to do all the work - the ROH should be promoting events not just listing them.

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6 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

That does help, but it's not immediately obvious, it's fiddly and it relies on people already knowing what they're looking for and where it's going to be on. The customer shouldn't have to do all the work - the ROH should be promoting events not just listing them.

 

It's no different to me looking at what's on offer at the Albert Hall, a long list of stuff in three venues which I can choose to filter very easily if I have a vague idea I want to see a singer or group in the auditorium. 

I've just seen the Bath Forum near me do the same thing....loads of different types of stuff to trawl through but can filter to see one type of thing listed if I just want music rather than a night with Harry Redknapp

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3 minutes ago, Rob S said:

 

It's no different to me looking at what's on offer at the Albert Hall, a long list of stuff in three venues which I can choose to filter very easily if I have a vague idea I want to see a singer or group in the auditorium. 

I've just seen the Bath Forum near me do the same thing....loads of different types of stuff to trawl through but can filter to see one type of thing listed if I just want music rather than a night with Harry Redknapp

 

The Albert Hall's is no-one's idea of a good website (and it was presumably considerably cheaper than the ROH one). Knowing the Bath Forum of old, I doubt extremely that a lot of money was spent on that one either.

 

The problem with the filter on the ROH What's On page is that it's about the least prominent thing on it, unlike the RSC example above. I have have no trouble navigating it, because I know what I'm looking for and I'm pretty determined, but it's surely a different story for the casual visitor.

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45 minutes ago, Rob S said:

 

Use the filters at the the top of the list....clicking on event type 'Ballet & Dance' gives you 18 items for the rest of the season...additionally clicking on venue 'Main Stage' gives you seven.

Thanks RobS. I just tried that out...it’s 4 steps to get me to the filter, so 5 steps by the time I picked ballet or opera...for some strange reason that page also got stuck twice. Albert Hall- Cirque du Soleil helpfully appears on the front page! If you want a pop concert or other concert it appears in just 2 steps. Or you can also click by date in just 1 step. I think I will just stick to the Friday Rush page or the search part. 😁

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39 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

Thanks RobS. I just tried that out...it’s 4 steps to get me to the filter, so 5 steps by the time I picked ballet

 

I've no idea where you are treading to make this 4-5 'steps'.

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3 hours ago, Lynette H said:

I think communication within the ROH could be improved. The new Friends magazine has just arrived, and it has details of a new film from Matthew Ball, Icarus.  The magazine says that he will "introduce Icarus at an Insight event in the Linbury Theatre. See ROH.org.uk for details" . But right now there are no such details to be found on the site. you might think that announcements like this would be co ordinated between departments. 

 

 

There's a page now, Friends booking opens tomorrow!

 

https://www.roh.org.uk/tickets-and-events/insights-icarus-details

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