Front of House Course – Session 2

Tickets & Record Sheets – The Paperwork

Five ways of getting in! 

Does it need to be so complicated?

  • Lots of different tickets – Probably the most confusing thing about doing front of house is recognising the different kinds of ticket. More than one person has said, ‘Charge them all the same!’ or ‘Just do it all online!’ or ‘Let them all buy on the door!’ And it is very tempting because having everyone buy online or on the door would make it much simpler for us.
  • There are reasons why we don’t do that – Lots of venues sell out. Sheer popularity means we can’t leave it until the night & only having an online facility would exclude anyone who makes the decision to come after 11.00pm the day before because the online box office closes then. We need the morning of the show to process the tickets. It would also make it difficult for many people who hate Paypal or can’t negotiate buying online (& there are many people like that). And our shows are largely village shows & centred in village life, so of course people want to buy them from the village shop. So, you see, it’s bound to be a little complicated. But you will soon get it!

One important principle

  • All our tickets are for one or more people (everyone on the same piece of paper). Not one ticket per person.

Here are the ways to buy:

1.Buy on the door

  • Page 1 of the record sheetsWhen the public arrive there will be a sign directing them to Table 1 if they need to buy on the night. These sales are recorded on page 1 of the record sheets. (See below.)
  • You don’t have to issue them with a physical ticket.
  • There may be some unpaid for reservations, including large groups (ten or more people), in this category. Most large groups do pay in advance but occasionally because the leader can’t collect the money earlier she/he will pay on the night usually with a cheque. Just record the sale on Page 1 of the record sheet, stamp their hands & let them through. This latter is new!

2.Buy online

  • Page 2 of the record sheetsLots of people are familiar with this way of buying tickets. They will probably print them off on an A4 sheet of paper. These people will be directed to Table 2 where one of you will tick their name off from page 2, take the ticket off them & keep it in the BBB (Big Black Box). You may prefer to keep a little pile of them until the rush settles then put them in the BBB. At the end of the show all the tickets have to go in the green folder, so you might prefer to do that straight away, but it takes longer. Whatever is best for you.
  • Sometimes people on the same ticket arrive separately. They will be encouraged in advance to print off separate copies of the ticket if they are going to come separately. If they haven’t, make them wait until the rest of the party arrive. This doesn’t apply to large groups (of 10 or more), who will all have separate tokens anyway.
  • Some people just show their ticket on their phone. That’s fine. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t hand in a hard copy but it helps us if they do. Some people may forget altogether to bring it. Just ask their names & check them against the list on the record sheet. Generally people are honest. At least our customers are (except about their age)! Once you have ticked them off, stamp their hands & let them through.

3.Buy from the Central Box Office – This includes two types of ticket! 

  • Page 3 of the record sheetsThis means they have emailed or phoned the office because they don’t like to buy online or want to organise a large group booking. This method applies to individuals or small groups and large groups of ten or more people.
  • Individuals & small groups – This will also be an A4 sheet & will list the name of the buyer & other people in the group if there are more than one.
  • Large groups of ten or more people – We are getting more & more of these groups but rarely more than two or three per venue. Large groups can’t be accommodated online; they need to ring up or email us to arrange it. They get a special reduced rate & are aimed at clubs & other social groups. There will be a group leader with the main ticket & everyone else will have a small token to say they are part of the group & with the leader’s name on it. If they haven’t got the token ask them to wait until the leader arrives. They will probably come separately, so before you start check what groups you are expecting. If there’s only one group coming with 13 individuals for example then it’s fairly easy to count them in. If there are five different groups all with 10 or more people it would be a nightmare to count them all! So don’t bother or worry about it. There are two important things: Make sure you collect the leader’s main A4 ticket & make sure each individual has a token. You can then just ‘bin’ the tokens in the rubbish bag.

The record sheets – Look at some examples

  • A very important document – You will find this very important document in the green zip up bag in the BBB. It has four pages. Occasionally if a large number of people are expected on the night there may be a spare ‘page 1’, or sometimes if online sales run over a whole page then again there may be an extra ‘page 2’. It is a record of all our sales & other key information too.
  • The pagesPage 1 is for ‘on the night sales’, Page 2 for ‘online sales’, Page 3 for ‘Central Box Office sales’ & Page 4 summarises sales & attendance numbers (Office use only), allows you to record merchandise & programme sales & gives the names of key people for the evening.

Here’s what they look like with some examples…

Page 1 – On the night sales & reservations

See an example of the chart below. You will receive this queue at Table 1. This will be the first page you look at. Separate it from the other pages so you have it by you. You’ll see it has the venue, date & start time at the top followed by the chart where you need to record people who are paying on the night. The chart will be blank until you fill it in, with the exception of possible reservations.

  • Transaction number – Notice that there is a ‘Transaction number’ in column 2. It will begin with the initial letters of the venue name. Customers may quote this to you, but their name will be enough.
  • Reservations – Some people want to come but for various reasons they haven’t been able to pay in advance. Maybe they aren’t comfortable with any of the payment methods. We are very tolerant! Or they are a group & can only collect the money from people on the night. We will allow them to reserve & pay when they arrive therefore.
  • Examples – You will see that Queenie (See the chart above) will ring us & really does want to come but maybe she can’t because she might not be able to find anyone to look after her very old mother, so can she reserve? Yes, she can! We are very understanding, so her name will be there with a red R next to it to remind us she’s got to pay.
  • Mr Tripe on the other hand needs to collect the money from his group & won’t see them until the night, so, of course, he can give us his cheque then. He has reserved & has a red R next to his name too, & is on this page, therefore, rather than the ‘Central Box Office’ page  where there are other large groups that have paid in advance. You’ll notice he has 1.3 large groups (ie 13 people).
  • The lines you fill in – John Smith’s & Erica Plum’s names (See the chart above) won’t be there. They are there in our chart now just to show you what you have to do. You will fill their details in yourselves. John has one adult, one senior, one student & one child in his group, so four people in total. The price of the tickets is at the top of each column, so you need to take £58 off him & put that in the ‘Total to pay’ column. However, he has been very kind & wants to give us an extra fiver. Just record this in the ‘Donation’ column. Don’t include it in the ‘Total to pay’ column.
  • Family groups – Erica has not only brought herself, a senior, but has brought her son’s whole family. This is recorded as a family in the ‘Family’ column, which consists of four people (that is, any two adults & two children), plus Erica, so five in all, including grandma, are coming. Families don’t have to be the ‘nuclear family’ of mum & dad & two nippers. They could be any two adults or seniors & any two children. The family rate in effect allows the second child to come free. It’s almost as good value if the two adults are in fact seniors. If a third child comes & is 7 or over they are recorded separately in the ‘Child’ column.
  • Definitions – An adult is aged between 18 & 64. A senior is aged 65 & older & is retired. But no-one will admit to still be working because it costs £1 more! So just go with it. A student is 18 & over & in full time education. They could be 96 & still in full time education in theory! It’s up to them to notice the discount & tell you. A child will be aged 7 to 17. Children under 7 come free, but the shows aren’t really designed for very young children. However, some little ones do get something out of it as long as they are prepared to sit still & not run about. Parents need to make an honest judgement & should read the advice on the website. Don’t turn away young children, nor babies. We just have to hope that people will read the guidelines.
  • If you fill the page up – There are far more lines than in the image but if you do use up all the lines & there isn’t much recorded on page 3 (‘Central Box Office’) and there often isn’t, then you could use that page as well. A spare page 1 may be included anyway if we think ‘on the night’ payments are going to be high.
  • Process them – Put a tick against the reservations if they turn up. Cross them out if they don’t. Write down all the required details of the rest. Then stamp their hands & let them through. They can come & go as they wish after that.

Page 2 – Online sales

You will receive these from the queue to Table 2. This page will have recorded on it already all the people who have booked online. They will arrive with A4 sized tickets, unless they have saved it on their phones. That’s fine. If they don’t have them on their phones, nor have their tickets, it’s ok just to process them with their surnames.

  • There are four examples – Emily & her hubby have bought two seniors’ tickets but they have also made a very kind donation of a tenner! Only the tickets are included in the ‘Total paid’ column. Rover the studious dog has brought a fellow student & a child. He has also donated his bone which isn’t much use to us but will keep him quiet so he won’t have to go out. Jilly & her partner, like Erica Plum above, have brought a family with them and Eric Clapton & his girlfriend so love our music they have bought two senior tickets. And he’s donated £25! I always did love his music.
  • Process them – Tick them off on the list, take their ticket, keep it safely on one side or in the BBB, don’t worry if it’s on their phone or they’ve forgotten it,  stamp their hands & let them in.

Page 3 – Central Box Office sales

On this page, which you will also deal with at Table 2, are all the people who have booked through our Central Box Office, ether by email or on the phone.  There aren’t usually that many. Most people are getting to grips with the modern world & online booking. They would have paid by putting money directly into our bank or bringing cash or a cheque into the office in person or sent it in the post. They will consist of individuals & small groups who couldn’t manage doing it online & don’t have a box office in the village and also large groups that have paid in advance. Note! Most large groups do pay in advance so appear here, but those that want to pay on the night are recorded separately on page 1 (‘On the Night’ sales).

  • The tickets – This will be an A4 sheet but with a different format to the online sales. The booker’s name will be on it & the number of people they have booked for. There is an equivalent but slightly different ticket for the leader only of a large group (10 or more people). Everyone else (as with the groups coming & paying on the night. See above) will have an individual token to say they are part of the group. Treat them exactly as you would the group bookings described above (Page 1, ‘On the Night’ sales). The only difference is that these have already paid.
  • Examples – You will see Fried Flintstone lives in the Stone Age so doesn’t understand booking online so he’s phoned up (using a bakelite phone with a dial you had to turn with your finger), paid directly into our bank & brought Wilma along. Just tick him off on the list, stamp his & Wilma’s hand & let them in. A couple of seniors, Ignatius & Mrs Trap, have come with their grandson and Cliff Fall has come with his family – and made a donation. If you remember, thank him. And Sue Slope has organised a party from the WI and brought 1.8 groups (18 people). They have all paid in advance.
  • Process them – Just tick them off on the list, take their tickets, dispose of the group vouchers in the rubbish bag, stamp their hands & usher the WI group to the front where, because they all know each other, they will have a jolly good time, laugh at everything even when it’s not funny & be a warm responsive audience.

Page 4 – The back page

  • This page will be dealt with in Session 3 of the course. It’s a summary page & also deals with programmes & merchandise.

Local Box Office tickets

  • The mysterious little coloured tickets – Some people will arrive with small ‘Local Box Office’ tickets. Numbers vary a lot from village to village (from none to loads). They usually are coloured with a watermark. They have bought them from a box office in their village shop or post office or similar. Some have been bought from what we call a ‘walking box office’ – Often the local organiser – who sells to people ad hoc as they meet them round the village. They started life in a ticket book which has been filled in by hand, and from which they have been torn out & distributed ‘over the counter’ or ‘in the street’ by the ‘LBO’ or ‘WLBO’.
  • Possible problems – Because we are often dependent with these on only semi-interested people to do it – for example, a post office clerk or shop assistant – they may not have filled in all the information. We are of course very grateful for them doing it at all, but it is often a nightmare to deduce the facts, especially if the stubs don’t get handed back. Hair tearing out time in the office! Just do your best & we’ll try & work it out.
  • Just collect themThere is no record page for these – No need to write anything down! – because they are sold independently of us. The local organiser will have the original book & stubs. We need to get these off him/her. Hopefully the actor responsible for front of house will do this, or the local organiser may bring them to you or indeed may be you. If you get the book & stubs in before people start arriving you can tick them off against the stubs, but don’t worry. As long as we get them we can do this checking back in the office.

Finally 

  • Keep these sheets safe – It is really important to understand & fill in these forms correctly. They are a record of our sales which we obviously need to keep & use for our accounts & future marketing. When you have filled them all in put them in the green zip up bag for safe keeping & put the folder in the BBB.
  • The tickets – As far as possible keep all the paper tickets. We use them to double check income & attendance & also for future marketing. Of course, some people may have downloaded their ticket to their phone & some may simply have forgotten to bring it. It’s not a big deal. We can usually work out who has come & who hasn’t.
  • Storing everything – At the end of the evening put the cash itself & the record sheets in the green zip up bag. If you can get the tickets in there as well even better. Otherwise put the tickets, the green bag (with the money & record sheets), the hand stamps, the pens, the sheet to cover the merchandise  & the bell back in the Big Black Box & hand the box either to the actor dealing with front of house or to Rowan (or Glenn or Pete if they are there).

And thank you very much! 

When you are ready go to Session 3 – Click here