Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Saturday, 1 October 2016

How to get tickets for something that might be sold out

Where the boys spend their money.  Location: St. Louis, Missouri. (LOC)

There are plenty of ways of getting tickets (including free ones) to events that have sold out. Some of them rely on you being famous, beautiful, well-networked or more-than-averagely-confident (or rather, less easily embarrassed by asking for stuff) but here are some suggestions that depend less on your current personal attributes.

Consider the phrase "this event is now completely sold out" to be a fun challenge and adopt the attitude of my grandfather who, according to my grandmother, understood "No entry" signs to mean "come on in Andrew" ;) Be polite, but tenacious.

1. Ring or visit the box office
Venues sell tickets online as do other third party ticket sellers. If either type of site is showing that the event is sold out it's worth ringing up and seeing if there are any that aren't on the system. I've lost count of the number of lovely conversations I've had with box office people telling me that there's actually a glitch and they do have a few tickets left. Third party sites with unsold tickets will usually return these to the main venue for resale so information online can be a bit variable and occasionally inaccurate.

If they've really, really sold out then ask about returns (i.e. purchased tickets that people can no longer use). Ask how these are resold (first come first served, out of a hat, returned to the online booking system for anyone who spots them, offered to the first person on the waiting list etc).

Ring back in a day or two and see if anything's changed.

2. Go by yourself or sit apart from friends
It's often a lot easier to get one seat than it is to get two next to each other. However when a show is very busy you may actually find it difficult to buy that one seat on its own because of the way online booking systems work. If it's part of a pair (but otherwise surrounded by booked seats) then the system might not permit just one to be bought but if you ring the box office they can often sort that out.

Minerva Theatre, Potts Point and Kings Cross, Sydney, May 1939 / photographer Sam Hood

3. Look for "win tickets to ..." tweets and newspaper competitions
If you're really keen you can set up a Google alert which will email you if certain keywords are published on the web, you can also keep an eye on relevant hashtags and the venue's own social media sites as they'll likely retweet opportunities to win tickets. If the event has sponsors it's worth seeing if they offer some freebies themselves.

4. Spare tickets
a) turn up on the day / ring the box office before the show
Sometimes someone in a group won't be able to leave work on time, or they're a bit ill and so people outside the venue might have a spare ticket that they're trying to resell. Make sure you check the date of the ticket before handing over money though. Some venues take a dim view of these kinds of ticket resales so I suppose you might find you're refused entry - generally this depends on the cost and level of security involved. Worth checking beforehand. Be careful about touts and inflated prices.

The box office may have returns, where someone realises they can't make the event and hands back their ticket for resale - make yourself known to the box office on arrival (hopefully you'll previously have rung them to let them know of your interest and to get yourself on any waiting list).

b) people offering tickets online
People can also post their spare tickets to things like Twickets (sold for face value) and they will also mention spares on Twitter etc. There are other organisations like Scarlet Mist and Stub Hub who match ticket sellers to buyers.

See also Eventim UK's FanSALE and See Tickets' Fan to Fan. AEG (who own O2 dome etc) have split from Stub Hub and will offer their own AXS Marketplace service later in 2018. 

5. Have a blog and ask for a press pass
This one probably requires the most work as you'll have to already have a blog in place for this to be credible and it might be a bit cheeky if you don't then write about the event. The more "official" the event the less likely this'll work as they'll probably already have their own list of press people. But worth a shot.

6. The venue might release more tickets, put on more shows
Sign up to their mailing list, keep an eye on their social media, create an account with the venue to save time logging in (though in general I hate the whole account thing, but for this I make an exception).

Check the venue's website periodically to see if anything's been added. While writing this post I've just spotted that there are two tickets to #Travesties on sale for a performance at 3.30pm on Sat 1st Oct. Pretty sure they weren't available the last time I checked the site.

Sometimes tickets might be held back from general sale because someone (eg friends of the production team or a celebrity) have expressed an interest in one or more tickets but then may not be able to go, so the tickets can go on general sale. 

7. National Theatre, London (added 5 July 2018)
I popped in on my way home to ask their box office people what they'd recommend for a friend who's hoping to get a ticket for a sold-out event. They were super-helpful and it turns out that they actually list other ways of getting tickets in their brochure. Interestingly these methods are highlighted more as inexpensive ways to get tickets, rather than as solutions to sold out runs, but it's also of relevance to those who are just struggling to get any ticket.

Some of these methods will be relevant for other theatres too, but of course it will depend on the size of the auditorium and length of the run.

Web: / Phone: 020 7452 3000 (Help centre)

Friday rush: every Friday at 1pm a limited number of £20 tickets for the following week's performances are released to buy online.  There's even a countdown until the next one! You need to pick these up within 90 minutes before the show starts.

Day tickets: A limited number of £18/£15 tickets are available in person on the day of the performance. For very popular shows this may involve turning up at the box office at 9.30 in the morning and queueing (I don't think you have to queue all day, they presumably release some tickets in the morning and then everyone goes home). You can also ring up at 10am and chat to the box office about the popularity of the day tickets for a particular show and get a sense of when to queue the next day.

Returns: as mentioned earlier in this post most theatres will have tickets returned for all sorts of reasons. The NT will try and sell as close to original face value as possible so that they can refund the original customer, so there may be quite a bit of variation in prices depending on what tickets were bought. These tickets are likely to appear at any point in the 90 minutes before a show if people have last-minute problems in getting there (eg babysitter, traffic etc) though it's possible earlier notice will be given.

8. Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London (added 8 July 2018)
Other than the Last Night of the Proms it is always possible to get a ticket for any Prom performance on the day because over 1,000 standing tickets are reserved solely for Day Promming. These let you stand in the Arena or the upper Gallery and cost £6 in person or £7.12 online (inc fees) at time of writing. Last year it was a fiver and had been so for ages.

"A limited number of Promming tickets will be available to purchase online between 9am-12pm on the day of each concert for £7.12 (including fees).

To buy a Promming ticket, please visit the concert’s event page, all of which are listed in the Proms Season Page, on the morning of the concert."

In person
You collect a numbered ticket from a Steward (at any point during the day from 9am) and only join the actual queue to buy tickets a short while before the doors open. Your numbered ticket lets you slot between people with the lower and higher number than you so there's lots of "I'm 312 what are you?" etc, which is quite jolly.

"All remaining Promming tickets will be sold in person. Tickets are £6 each, limited to one per person, and can be purchased with cash or contactless payment card as the queue enters the building (approximately one hour before each concert and 30 minutes before Late Night Proms).

We are operating a queue numbering system so you don’t have to stand in a queue all day. When you arrive at the venue, ask a Steward for a queue number – these are handed out from 9am – and you can return later to take your numbered place in the queue."

9. Getting free / cheap event tickets
This 20-tweet thread is quite remarkable, covering all sorts of clever ways of finding out about reduced cost events, click the timestamp to open the thread.

Discounted or free ticket opportunities
TodayTix (London)
Audience Club

See also
How do I get a refund from an unauthorised secondary ticket seller? Which? guide

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