Thursday, 13 September 2018

Booking Fees

Michael Nabarro, co-founder and managing director of Spektrix had this to say in response to a Which? survey on ticket booking fees:

“Yesterday’s Which? survey confirms long-held fears that industry practices around booking fees are putting many people off attending live events altogether. At a time when consumers have more options than ever for their entertainment spend, too many venues are shooting themselves in the foot.

“Instead of bolting onto advertised prices at the final stage of a ticket purchase, booking fees should be used to encourage – not penalise – online sales. Telephone transactions require the involvement of a sales agent so adding a small fee for these can make sense. Online transactions however require less staff resource and can generally make life easier for the venue involved.

“Smart promoters are already making online ticket purchases fee-free, whilst many not-for-profit theatres, hard hit by funding cuts, have grasped a fundraising opportunity: rather than impose an online booking fee, they close each ticket transaction with an option to make a donation. This makes even more sense when you consider that booking fees are subject to VAT. So charging a pound only nets 83p. (Note this applies in the UK only).

“More broadly, venues need to consider pricing from the perspective of customers. People don’t buy tickets, they buy experiences. Breaking the price they pay into base cost and fees just undermines the emotional impact of the purchase and dulls the enjoyment of a good night out.

“Purging online booking fees entirely will help improve customer relationships and encourage return attendance. Our sector needs to make hidden, last-minute top-up fees a thing of the past.”

How many times have we been caught by these “last-minute fees” when we are already emotionally invested in the transaction we’re booking, whether it be a bus journey, a theatre ticket or a flight on holiday?  Nabarro’s arguments make sense (assuming that online bookings indeed carry a lower “processing cost”) and I suspect that the business concerned is either recovering the cost of its investment into its new online booking system, or sees a way of making a bit extra.

General expectations of the digital business world are that it is cheaper, more efficient and less prone to staffing problems, so why pay more? 

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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