SOAR 2016: Booking tickets and access

Posted on 24.03.2016

SOAR 2016: Booking tickets and access

Even the initial bit about buying a ticket can be complicated. Is there a PA scheme? Are there special ‘disability access’ tickets or do I buy one ticket and apply for a PA ticket separately? Can you get access tickets on pre-sale? All these factors need to be understood beforehand.

In this article, we want to revisit our State of Access Report 2016 and highlight the crucial relationship between online information and the implementation of policies and procedures that enable customers to book tickets and access facilities.

Information on bookable access facilities

One of the main things that many Deaf and disabled people look for online when assessing a venue or festival prior to booking tickets is whether or not certain access facilities require pre-booking and the submission of evidence. We strongly advocate for certain facilities to be pre-bookable, to give peace of mind to customers and assist organisers with the planning and implementation of reasonable adjustments such as PA ticket schemes, accessible viewing platforms and areas, accessible parking, and accessible camping.

Our mystery shoppers reported that of the 52% of venues that advertised the presence of a viewing platform or area, 84% stated the need to book access to these locations. This is unsurprising given the often limited space available.

In contrast, 61% of festivals advertised the presence of viewing platforms or areas, but of these only 52% explicitly stated the need to pre-book accreditation to access these areas.

Our website survey revealed that when access information was provided, PA ticket schemes were advertised by 68% of Ents24’s top venues and 77% of Guardian listed festivals. However only 34% of venues asked for proof of disability compared with 63% of festivals. This variation is likely explained by the difference in value between the average gig and festival tickets.

Access booking forms for festivals

Once I had my email booking confirmation I completed an online form. I quickly received confirmation that my application had been successful.

We recommend that festivals implement a policy whereby customers purchase their own ticket, and then utilise a ticket reference to book any access facilities they require via a booking form that is available from an ‘Access Information’ webpage. This process needs to be supported by information listing all bookable access facilities, and describing the booking process. This method enables festivals to capture all necessary information in a single place, such as need for a PA, accessible camping, parking or access to viewing platforms, number in party and power-charging requirements.

Online ticketing for venues

Not being able to book accessible tickets online is no longer acceptable - if a venue isn't willing to make the effort needed so I can buy tickets in the same way as other people, they are less likely to get my custom.

Following on from the previous State of Access Report, we recommend that venues offer identical ticket buying options to both disabled and non-disabled customers. This includes making tickets available online and should include the facility to book access facilities such as accessible seating or a PA ticket. 38% of Charter venues are now offering accessible tickets online, including the Roundhouse, Band on the Wall and Village Underground.

Proof of disability

I really love having my Access Card which means that I don't have to write an essay about my access requirements every time I go to a festival/venue.

A universal system to provide proof of disability and thus eligibility for different bookable access facilities is a key component of delivering widespread accessible ticketing.

In our State of Access Report 2014, we highlighted how just 2 out of 10 venues were selling tickets to disabled people online and called on the industry to be offering identical booking options to all of their customers.

In partnership with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, we have worked closely with the major ticketing retailers to understand and overcome the barriers to offering an equal service. Having called for a universal proof of disability scheme to aid customers with online validation and repeat bookings, we have been working with Credibility’s Access Card and the Arts Council Wales-funded Hynt Card to offer a solution.

The Access Card is based on the social model of disability and uses symbols to represent a user’s access requirements, providing proof of disability and helping service providers to identify potential barriers to an equal experience. The card is increasingly accepted across the UK, at venues including the O2, Genting and Motorpoint Arenas, The Sage, Forum and all Academy Music Group venues, and festivals including Glastonbury, Download, Reading and Bestival.