OPINION: The Language of Ticketing

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Prior to the Theatre opening the only live performance many have ever witnessed is their child’s tantrum when they are served broccoli for dinner. But now that professional performing arts are part of the region’s everyday lifestyle, it’s important that you knew a little more about how ticketing for a performance works.

al•lo•cate  [al-uh-keyt]
1. to set apart for a particular purpose; assign or allot

Seating at any live performance venue is dependent on the seating allocation given to the ticketing agent (that’s us!) by the event promoter. Just as though you were hosting a barbeque in your yard, the promoter has the privilege to admit whoever they want. At your barbeque you can save a seat right next to the esky for your mate and his family, your VIPs. At a show, the promoter saves seats for their VIPs too. Their VIPs may be the media who have helped promote the event or the marketing team that has designed posters and television commercials. If the promoter didn’t employ the resources of these VIPs there would be a great chance that no one would find out about the event, so they provide an invaluable service. If, at the last minute you hear that your mate can’t make it to the barbecue this week, being that it is your barbecue you have the right to either save that seat for your second best friend or let someone else sit there. This is where allocation plays a part.

While a majority of seats are open for general public sales, a few are also held, or allocated, for the promoter and sponsors. These allocations are set amounts outlined in the hiring contract and usually their attendance is not finalised until just days before the event. So, if all the general public seats have been sold and a few days before the show the promoter decides that some of their VIPs can’t attend, they may then release these tickets for sale to you – the general public. This is why a show that has been declared sold out suddenly shows available seating. In city venues, instead of saying that available tickets have been sold out they use the term “allocation exhausted” when seats have been sold but the promoter still has seat allocations remaining.

pur•chase [pur-chuhs]
verb (used with object)
1. to acquire by the payment of money or its equivalent; buy.

When you want something, you must offer something else of equal value in exchange, that’s how commerce has been for thousands of years. Only, unfortunately, we can’t trade chickens and beans for goods and services anymore.

If we were to offer seat reservations without up-front payments, this would open the proverbial floodgates. It would mean that you would be well within your rights to reserve a seat to every single performance. If just five hundred people did this, there would be no seats available, no tickets left to sell. Yet no income would have been generated from sales because there were no sales, only reservations. None of these people would have to attend the shows, they have made no commitment to, but you would have missed out on your opportunity to see the show.

re•fund [ri-fuhnd, ree-fuhnd]
verb (used with object)
1. to give back or restore (especially money)

It is for a comparable reason that we don’t offer refunds. In fact, the entire industry doesn’t offer refunds. It’s part of the code of conduct and guidelines that Live Performance Australia, a third-party, sets for the industry. If you buy a ticket for Love Never Dies and tried to get a refund from Ticketmaster you would receive the same response to a refund request from DRTCC. Again, everyone could buy a ticket to every single performance and then later decide that they don’t want to attend and simply apply for a refund each time.

Having said that, management does reserve the right to offer a refund under exceptional circumstances and the request needs to be in writing, then approved, then processed – most often the patron prefers to pass on the ticket to a friend or family member rather than wait for a refund to be processed.

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