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The Play-off Ticket Experience - Part One

Now that the pain of the play-off final is starting to recede, The Tilehurst End has analysed the results of the survey we ran in May about the pain that so many experienced in the weeks before the Final – the purchasing of tickets.

As you probably remember, there were three options for purchasing tickets – in person from Reading FC, over the internet from a ticketing agency called TicketZone, or by
phone from the same agency.    In the interests of fairness, we asked for responses from everyone who’d bought tickets – regardless of how they bought them.  We got a pretty good response with 230 responses in all.  That might not seem many, but in a survey like this it’s certainly more than enough to give valid data – even more so as the survey data gives us pretty consistent response patterns.

For each of the ways Loyal Royals could purchase tickets, we asked them when they purchased these, how long it took them, and also asked them to give a rating out of 10 for each of a number of factors relevant to that method of purchasing tickets.  We then finished the survey by giving respondents the chance to comment or give us any other thoughts on their ticket-buying experience.

Over the next few days, we’ll look at the survey results for each of these sets of ticket-buyer, starting with those who bought tickets in person at the Madejski Stadium.

In all, 23% of our respondents chose to buy tickets in person through the club, and their responses are almost unanimous in praise for a very good job done by Reading FC and their
staff, and the overall organisation of ticket-buying.

The total time spent queuing to purchase tickets was less than 15 minutes for 46% of our respondents, and under an hour for 66% of people.  A further 28% had to queue between 1 - 3 hours, with only 6% queuing reporting that they queued for over 3 hours – and everyone queuing more than 1 hour did so at the “peak” selling days early on the Thursday and Saturdays when tickets first went on sale time to season-ticket holders and member card holders – and I suspect some of those queuing for over 3 hours were people who arrived before the ticket office was open, although the survey isn’t clear on this.

Customer satisfaction was very high too.  We asked respondents how satisfied they were with the signage and marshalling, and the average satisfaction score out of 10 was 8.37.  In fact, 42.9% ranked this as “Superb” (i.e. 10 out of 10) and in all 89.9% ranked this as “Good” or better.  There were similar figures with satisfaction scores for time spent queuing.  The average satisfaction score was 7.54 (again, out of 10), with 34% ranking this as “Superb” and 74% ranking times as “Good” or better.  The highest satisfaction scores of all were recorded for “Efficiency of sales centre staff”, with an  average satisfaction score of 8.55, and 44.9% of respondents ranking the staff as “Superb”, and only 8.1% ranking the experience as worse than “Good.”

Not surprisingly, the overall rating of the ticket-buying experience gets similar marks, with an average rating of 8.25, and 37.5% of people rating the whole experience as “Superb” and 75% rating it as “Good” or better.

A number of respondents gave us additional comments on their experiences, and as you’d expect from the above ratings, the vast majority of these were positive comments, although a few had suggestions on how the system could have been improved.  A representative sample of these comments is given below.

  • Because of the luck of the draw element to queuing, those that came later in the day and waited less time (I queued from 8:30am for 2 1/2 hours) got £64 tickets behind the goal where I would have preferred to have been. It's a shame      that those who are served first don't get a better choice of position in  the stadium.
  • Bought at 6pm on  Thursday & was offered a choice of upper/lower tier.  Couldn't get a credit card receipt as the printer at my window (east stand ticket office) was broken.
  • So went to the TO  at about 8pm on day 1, no queues and very helpful TO staff.
  • Went to RFC at  7pm. Brilliant service.
  • Madstad staff were excellent from start to finish.
  • Rolled up to the ground to purchase 6 tickets on Thursday afternoon. No problem what so ever. No Queue. No hassle.
  • Seemed like a well run process, shame they couldn't separate the tickets so you could choose more than just the price range. Splitting the piles into two/three so you could ask for "Behind the goal"/upper tier alongside the pitch" etc.
  • The club are to be congratulated. Clear communication of details on their website with regular updates as the process developed. As a season ticket holder I feel I have been well treated and rewarded by having a clear purchasing window and the ability to buy a second ticket. The whole process and experience has been very positive.
  • The only reason I ticked queued for 3 hours was that I arrived at 6am to start queuing to ensure I could get away earlyish. once the ticket office opened I only had
    to wait for 30 minutes.
  • .... People at the windows had to operate an awful manual and slow process.
  • The whole system at the stadium was first rate and was excellently marshalled and despite the initial information giving the impression that tickets would be sold
    very strictly...The ticket office were happy to offer more than one block for sale and there was no issue about waiting for the most suitable block...well done the ticket office...too many fans find a way of complaining about something...but this time credit where credit is due
  • Ticket office staff were very good
  • Very easy in person at the ticket office, only downside is having to queue but what can you do. Tickets in hand
  • Why didn't they use royalty points to ease congestion / stagger demand? It was apparent from the chaos with the website on Thursday that going to the ground was
    the only way to ensure getting a ticket come the weekend - but given it was a total free for all i.e. anyone who had a member card could apply, Saturday morning was always going to see massive queues.

So the club is to be congratulated on what seems to have been a well-organised and relatively painless experience – especially for those of us who remember queuing all the way around the stadium hours in order to get tickets for previous play-off finals.

But tomorrow we’ll look at the experiences of those who bought over the phone from TicketZone.  That and the stories of those who purchased over the internet make for very different – and very interesting – reading.