Making West End theatre bookings via the internet can seem an easy option but can cause the unwary to trip up. What should you know about booking West End theatre tickets?
Firstly make sure you are booking for the West End!! Yes, it seems obvious but with so many shows out on tour or playing all over the world…when you google the show you are trying to book for and don't take your time, it does happen that you can end up booking for the show somewhere else! Did you really want to go see Thriller in Scotland? Who should you book your London theatre tickets with? With so many touts out there, always check you are booking with an official agent. One good sign to look for is an agent that shows they are part of STAR. What is STAR? Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers. STAR is a self-regulatory body operating within guidelines supported by, amongst others, the Office of Fair Trading, the British Tourist Authority, the London Tourist Board, Westminster Council and the Society of London Theatre. Members of STAR have an agreement that they will not charge a booking that is more than 25% of the face value of the ticket. With the prevelance of credit card fraud, it is really unwise to risk buying tickets from websites allowing private sellers.
Once you are ready to book tickets check out the theatre seating seat plan and see where your seats are before you book the seats! Theatre tickets are generally non refundable or exchangable except in the event of the show being cancelled so it really is worth taking a few extra minutes to choose your seats carefully. When you know what show you are booking open the seating plan and understand what is stalls (seats in front of the stage, flat with only a slight rake), dress or royal circle (seats on the first level up, tiered so good for kids to see the stage), upper circle or grand circle (second level up, generally quite steep and far from the stage), balcony or gallery (the cheapest of the cheap - don't go there if you suffer from vertigo!). Generally Stalls and Dress/Royal are what is top priced seats so considered the best seats in the house. Seats at the back of the Stalls are normally a bit cheaper but could mean a restriction such as cutting off the top of the set decoration due to the overhang of the level above. A new phenomenon is Premium seats. These are what the theatre consider the crème de la crème of seats in the theatre offering the best view. Unfortunately theatres have started to take advantage of the fact that there are many celebrity filled productions that sell well and they have a tendency to put more and more seats classed as premium that perhaps are not really deserving of the category…so again check carefully and don't over pay for your ticket. There are forums out there for the discerning theatre goer to read all about the seats you are thinking of buying.
Final piece of advice? You should always get a booking confirmation with order number. If you don't get that at the end of the booking don't assume everything is fine…call up and find out what your booking number is. When you make West End theatre bookings