Additional booking fees

The Lowry, one of the North-West’s most esteemed venues, is guilty of conning the public over ticket prices and hiding behind small print on their publicity or several web clicks. Strong words but the advertised price is never what you pay. There is always a £1.50 booking fee per ticket. A booking fee when you pay online, over the phone or at the box office in the foyer of the theatre itself. The booking fee is applied by the ticketing system that the Lowry use, Quay tickets. Quay tickets is owned by The Lowry. I understand that The Lowry, like most arts organisations, needs all the income it can get but this booking fee always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It puts me on the wrong foot before I get into see a show.


Should booking fees be absorbed into the ticket price or added on?


We have been debating this issue for a while for Spot On and we don’t really have an answer yet but we do know that if you by your ticket in person then you do not pay one. There is always an option. All Spot On shows have tickets available online. We, all our libraries and most of our rural venues use Ticket Source, An affordable solution for small scale venues.  Ticket Source needs income from somewhere in order to exist. Most of its income is derived from booking fees. These booking fees can either be added on to the cost of a ticket


  • £10 for the ticket and 50 pence booking fee for Ticket Source

or absorbed into the ticket price.


  • Everyone pays £10.25 online or on the door and Ticket Source keeps 50 pence for every ticket sold ia their website.

One of our promoters told me last week that she had an audience member who drove ten miles to buy his tickets in person rather than pay a 50 pence booking fee online.


Additional booking fees have been a fact of life for large gigs and concerts for a number of years. How else has Ticketmaster become the £multi-million international beast that is is now. Young people seem to accept the additional fee as a given. We also expect extra charges that mask a too good to be true price from budget airlines. We, hold our breath and reluctantly accept that it’s necessary evil that will help us fulfil our ultimate goal of a foreign destination. None of this makes it right. If we want to build honest, ongoing relationships with our audiences then that the arts should avoid the sharp charging behaviour of budget airlines and Ticketmaster as examples to follow. We don’t want our audiences entering our venues with a bad financial taste in their mouth.


We would be really interested to hear your views on additional booking fees. Do they bother you? Is an aversion to them just a bit old-fashioned? How can we best communicate with our audiences about booking fees so it is clear and they remain happy?