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Thread: Why Advance Tickets for Airshows?

  1. #1
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    Why Advance Tickets for Airshows?

    Until recently you turned up, paid your money and got in (or didn't as the case may be).
    I've only ever been turned away from one airshow, one of the last Mildenhalls and that was due mostly to terror fear rather than crowd numbers.
    So I just wanted to ask what the reason is for all airshows now pre paid ticket entrance only?
    Are airshows just so popular that there are two many people who want to attend? Or is this a safety thing?
    For me it puts me off or prevents me going to some shows as I now have to plan in advance, but in some cases due to work and life I can't plan in advance.
    So the Friday "lets go to X" is no longer possible.
    I think I'm going to fewer displays because of this and being more selective.
    I've also noticed that displays don't seem as packed out as they used to be.
    Just wondered what others think?

  2. #2
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    Not all are ticket only.

    Duxford and RIAT are, but not Shuttleworth, nor was Abingdon, nor are pretty much all 'family shows' like Little Gransden.

    Years ago it would have been too much hassle to mail out 20,000 tickets, but it can all be done online now, at zero cost to the promoter. The money is in the bank, and duff weather on the day will not affect revenue. Tough luck on the punters.

  3. #3
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    British weather.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  4. #4
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    "So the Friday "lets go to X" is no longer possible."

    This isn't true though is it? Of the examples cited Duxford allow you to buy tickets until midnight before a show day. The FAQ for RIAT states that you can still buy e-tickets "up until the day of the show" provided they haven't sold out.

  5. #5
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    I think Biggin two dayer is ticket only again this year, as Moggs says it cover their bottoms if suddenly its 10/10th clapped in monsoon.
    I remember sitting at Biggin in the early 70s absolutely hammering but Ray Hanna still displayed MH434 owned then by Adrian Swire
    Last edited by Trolly Aux; 18th May 2017 at 11:00.
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  6. #6
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    The possibilty of bad weather or having to work at short notice means that pre paying is a no goer for me.

  7. #7
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    I don't see the issue: there is always something to see and many shows (not just airshows) have been 'advance-ticket only' for a long time without much of a grumble. Quality doesn't seem to suffer and I always enjoy myself, whether it's raining or not.

  8. #8
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    Sabrejet, you must have missed the airshow at DX circa 2005 when the weather was so bad that the only a/c movement was Alan Walker taxiing a Chipmunk up and down the crowd line. For those attending, neither the tat stalls nor the hangars can compensate for a lack of Flying at an airshow.
    Watching the planes fly by...

  9. #9
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    hi,
    and then there's always the £2 or so admin. fee as you need to pay by card...

  10. #10
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    A whole two pounds.....that's daylight robbery!!!

    Come on guys, let's cut the airshow organisers a bit of slack!

    I'd rather pay a few quid extra and pay in advance (which is often cheaper!) and risk the bad weather spoiling the show than have another venue stop putting on shows altogether because of the risk of making a serious loss because of the weather; spare a thought for how much planning goes into one of these shows, how much the outgoings are that are paid in advance and how many historic aircraft operations rely on these airshows as their major source of funding.

    It is different if work or personal circumstances actually prevent you from buying a ticket in advance but why should airshow organisers risk the very survival of the show, which we'd all moan about losing, when we aren't prepared to risk a bit of disappointment due to bad weather (and only have to wait until next year, or even just next airshow)?
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 18th May 2017 at 14:33.
    WA$.

  11. #11
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    I am assuming there is a point where refunds would be paid.Now if the weather set in BUT something actually managed to fly ie a modern all weather type would the organisers say that there was flying or would they refund regardless, where is the line drawn ? less than 30% flying for example.

  12. #12
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    As a former co-airshow organiser its really simple!
    1) Advance tickets enable you to sort the admin, ticket issue/wristbands well in advance and save queues and chaos on the day, reducing staffing levels.
    2) Large amounts of cash, unreliable PDQ machines etc are not required - at one stage we had £50k in cash pounds being moved from the admissions booths to a 'secure location' during a show. Everything can be done via Paypal, SAGEpay etc so the money arrives in the account by bank transfer, is traceable and managed by software.
    3) Weather, a large proportion of the GBP have a look at the weather forecast the week before to see if its worth bothering going (also people twitch their curtain that morning before deciding to go or not - but then these are often people who turn up 5 mins before the show starts and grumble about traffic) the organisers have a guaranteed advance number to make sure they are viable - further most T&Cs include a no refund provision so they are financially 'safe' even before the show starts - hitherto infrastructure still had to be paid for and this is problematic with a crap wx day and no punters or the hassle/need to issue refunds.
    4) Logistics - with ebooking and etickets the cost of issuing tickets and passes is negligible bar the software cost - the punter even prints his own....
    5) Liability - you can whack a whole load of T&Cs on an advance booking website - punter has to click 'agree' before he purchases.
    6) Demand, 'limited number of tickets' = a carrot for people to book NOW rather than risk missing out (this happened to us - the vitriol was unbelievable from those who couldnt get tickets and the ****s who sold theirs on ebay for many times face value - it was for charity for pete's sake!)
    7)Marketing - people like a bargain - early bird prices prompt more punters to 'buy now'.

    In sum, saves costs, infrastructure, its safer, and less riskier for the organisers who can of course plan for the exact number (pretty much) of visitors.

    Simples

    TT
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  13. #13
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    Post Shoreham Airshow organisers have to provide a level of detail to road traffic policing and management agencies so that traffic can be policed and managed appropriately. By paying in advance and managing ticket volumes these numbers are known and together a traffic plan and appropriate parking will be able to be managed. Should traffic be queuing or stopping within the display area outside the airfield then the airshow could and would be stopped until it is cleared.

    Propstrike, Shuttleworth has gone pre ticket for a number of events now and especially those deemed to be more popular, eg. Reds, Vulcan etc.

    As said, a number of shows if not a sell-out (DUX etc.) have being selling tickets up to the day before giving some of the flexibility needed yet it still gives the ability to know numbers etc. for the reasons above. The risk however being that if a sell-out and not ordering in advance, you may not get tickets.

    But give airshows some slack, especially given the increased overheads post Shoreham, and compare prices and ticket procurement to other outdoor events, it's not untoward really.

  14. #14
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    It's a daft idea for all the reasons many have already stated.
    I get why RIAT do it and Biggin Hill went all ticket because they wanted to bring back a show that didn't have the disruptive effect of the famous Air Fair on the local community.
    For Biggin to have a thriving business at the airport they need to 'keep the locals onside'
    As for Duxford , it's a pain. I'm sat here trying to guess the weather next weekend before ordering a ticket and wondering how late in the week I can buy a ticket .
    Once I have purchased the ticket, I will hope there are no last minute family/life/car hitches meaning I'm left with a ticket for a show I can't go to.
    And still they persist with a car parking charge..........as long as I have a car I'm not taking public transport to an air show !
    The IWM shows have a pretty poor attitude to their customers.

  15. #15
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    For the reasons given above, it's a wonderful thing for the organisers but very much less so for the customer. Who said the customer was always right? Not here, it seems. He has to pay in advance to see an airshow: if one isn't provided he doesn't get his money back. Try that in other lines of business.

  16. #16
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    So do people avoid all other ticketed events in case of "last minute family/life/car hitches"? It must be quite limiting.

    I attend a variety of events for which tickets are required - live bands, comedy gigs, sport, exhibitions, etc. All of which have to be booked in advance. None of which would provide a refund if (say) my car broke down on the way. It has never once been a factor when deciding whether to purchase a ticket.

  17. #17
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    It is a clever business model - minimise risk, maximise profit, mitigate liabilities. It is however a cynical shift of risk from the organiser to the customer. It reduces the loyal audience's flexibility and the spontaneous audience's opportunities - but that's the entertainment business and, as frustrating as it may make us feel, there will be no going back!
    Last edited by Consul; 18th May 2017 at 16:13.
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  18. #18
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    "further most T&Cs include a no refund provision so they are financially 'safe' even before the show starts - hitherto infrastructure still had to be paid for and this is problematic with a crap wx day and no punters or the hassle/need to issue refunds."

    One reason why i will not buy an advanced ticket now. Can you imagine the outcry if you went to the cinema,theatre ,concert, and it was called off and no chance of a refund or ticket for another show.I know the organisers of an airshow cannot control the weather but neither can the person who has put his money into someone elses bank account,maybe months earlier.

  19. #19
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    As others have said, it guarantees that the organisers will be able to cover their expenses in the event of bad weather.
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  20. #20
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    did not the weather intervene in 2008, I had a refund... but my point about the £2 admin fee is an average attendance is 150,000-160,000 means £300,000-£320,000 above the actual admission receipts. Which you are forced to pay as you must pre-buy tickets... and how much of the admission price goes to the charities?

  21. #21
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    I agree that charging a £2 admin fee is ridiculous, if there is no way of customers avoiding paying it; they should just put the price up by £2 if that is what they need to do to make an airshow viable.
    WA$.

  22. #22
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    Admin fees are a joke. A shop selling using any of the major credit or debit cards has to pay a fee, those shops do not (usually) charge you extra for using those cards.
    So why should the ticketing industry ? It was outlawed at one time with the airline industry making huge profits on such charges but the travel industry still gets away with it. Its just another hidden tax.

    Agree with a previous posts comment that cash handling is a major problem, because if you offer tickets on the gate you obviously have to handle cash which means trusted and trained staff. So long as tickets are available up to the Friday before the show, and there are no hidden fees, then I see do not problem. The only issue would be the small, all be it important, percentage of the population which do not access the internet.

  23. #23
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    For the reasons given above, it's a wonderful thing for the organisers but very much less so for the customer. Who said the customer was always right? Not here, it seems. He has to pay in advance to see an airshow: if one isn't provided he doesn't get his money back. Try that in other lines of business.
    Couple of points. About five years ago Southport Air Show was cancelled on the Sunday due to very bad weather. Refunds were available. In fact I did not know about the cancellation until I arrived in Southport, not a big deal as it is only a 40 minute rail journey from home. Second point, no one has mentioned that it is possible to insure outdoor events against losses attributable to adverse weather. Not too sure about the policy conditions. We do seem to be going down the road of loading all the risk onto the customer.

  24. #24
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    I look at it a bit differently and think how lucky we are to have IWM airshows, and others too, given the additional expense post Shoreham, additional security costs and many other factors. If it means some changes and a little sacrifice on my behalf, so be it.

    I can't think of too many national and international events that allow me to not pay until I get to the door so I can pick and choose if it suits me.

  25. #25
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    I think only one airshow here this season was advance-only: the RNZAF's 80th Anniversary Air Tattoo. I don't believe it's very common in New Zealand yet.

    One show this season was cancelled due to weather and refunds for pre-paid tickers were automatic and, I understand, in full. Not sure how that's a cynical cashgrab by the organisers!
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  26. #26
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    Just a couple of replies on the above. Firstly, if you are a large institutional airshow organiser - cf Duxford, Cosford etc - they have a large amount of infrastructure in place already. Plus they have larger pockets to absorb losses. Compare and contrast then the volunteer organised shows for charity, of which ours was an example. You cannot obtain weather insurance at a reasonable premium (I seem to remember the premium being about £20k) for an outdoor event - the insurers pretty much HAVE to expect a claim for no-one can predict the weather accurately enough in advance for the underwriters to do otherwise.

    So, having run OTG tickets before and been faced with a loss, that loss has to be paid. By whom> The volunteers who gave up their spare time to organise it for charity>? We are not paid and I can assure you it took a good year to put everything in place for a single day - the loo providers, security staff, fencing companies etc - dont all say, sorry you've had a bad event we won't charge you!

    Instead of grumbling from a consumers point of view in respect of the smaller shows perhaps a bit of appreciation for those who get off their bums, work hard, give up their time, for a charitable cause to give you a show to go and see (or not - its your choice).

    Post Shoreham, the liability for such volunteer organisers has increased to the extent that can be PERSONALLY liable in certain circumstances for things that happen OUTSIDE the event venue. I cannot go onto someone's private land and order off the bunch of freeloaders watching for free, often hundreds of them, lest they be at risk from the airshow footprint! Yet I am liable if something happens to them. Nuts.

    Further, you try booking a Spitfire or Tiger Moth for a flypast for your wedding etc - formerly, no problem, depending on the 'display' a small fee to CAA may have been required. Now, at least £500 to CAA, risk assessment, full planning, restricted movements, etc etc makes it prohibitive.

    I fully appreciate that some 'tightening up' of rules is healthy and necessary. But they have killed the smaller shows, tiny events which pilots used to do for free or for a small fee/at cost to keep their aeroplane viable.

    Finally, a word about the GBP. The vast majority are great however, for our last show, the vitriol when tickets sold out was unbelievable - an elderly lady phoned the ticket line INCENSED that we had none available and her sign off line haunts me still 'well if I can't go I hope something crashes then'.

    The Lancs were BEYOND crosswind limits, they could not leave Coningsby due to safety concerns, some of the GBP outraged that the acts they expected to see did not turn up because of the weather. We have the emails of disgust and outrage that such a thing could happen.

    For the foreseeable future we wont be having another show. The last one nearly killed us, our morale hit the floor with stuff like this - despite the fact that 99.9% of the punters enjoyed it and we gave a huge cheque to the air ambulance.

    A bit of recognition for the volunteers of the smaller shows wouldnt go amiss, and if advance tickets means they have less work to do and makes their show viable rather than a personal financial risk then fair play to them.

    By way of balance, seeing nearly 10,000 people enjoying themselves at an event which we organised (6 shows over ten years) and handing a socking great cheque over to the air ambulance each time made it worthwhile. As did being in a Hughes 500 with the door off, above a displaying Canberra PR9. Magic.

    TT
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  27. #27
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    A thought provoking insight TT and all credit for sticking at things for so long!
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  28. #28
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    As one of said volunteers TT I agree with all you have to say and that it too is applicable to the slightly larger airshows where volunteers are vital to them happening and where margins are tight.

    The sense of entitlement of a fair number of people, armchair experts, to dictate the terms on which they buy their tickets and their "expertise" and ability to tell those who actually organise and run the events how to do it better, never ceases to amaze me.

  29. #29
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    Having volunteered over a ten year period with the operator of a large collection of active aircraft, which also put on events and shows, I can relate to all of the points well made by TT. Without volunteer effort and commitment few shows would be viable. Few of the GBP realise that volunteers are involved - why should they, for them it's just a day out.

    The smaller shows actually organised by volunteers and often geared to charity fund raising especially deserve support and recognition, but their viability and survival is jeopardised by the increased degree and costs of assessment plus risk mitigation. Electronic payment up front and self printed ticketing seems an inevitability.
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."(Mary Baker Eddy)

  30. #30
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    There seem to be three main arguments for having pre-paid tickets for Airshows.
    1) If the weather is bad the show does not make a loss.
    Isn't that a rather cynical approach to making money? While I accept that bad weather does affect ticket sales, preventing the public making a choice is a rather negative approach. I also think most air show goers will just attend on day two of a two day event regardless. That's what I tended to do. If I planned to attend the Saturday and the weather was forecast better for Sunday (or vice versa) I would change days but I would still go. That option isn't open to me now. Bit sad to have been forced to attend on a bad day especially if the other day was better. Before I just put this down to bad luck because I at least could make a choice.
    Airshows also do not offer a refund if nothing fly's (although has been mentioned there are exceptions). A 2 minute hop by a Chipmunk does not an airshow make. Much the same as Liam Gallagher clearing his throat does not make a concert.

    2) Other venues (Music, Theatre etc) already have pre paid tickets.
    This is true and I have purchased pre-paid tickets for most other events and accepted this however, in these cases there will be many dates to choose from (for theatre that could be months or years to choose from) and refunds offered if the event does not happen. Also the event organisers base this on number attending, venue capacity not so they can make money if the event is scrubbed. The last few airshows I have attended were not full to capacity that I could see. They looked a bit spacious compared to some years.

    3) The cost of producing the tickets.
    Is that a huge cost? I would have thought in the grand scheme of things the cost of printing tickets must be miniscule as opposed to having a massive turnout on a very sunny weekend? With pre-printed tickets you will only ever get the maximum number of tickets sold = the max number of tickets. No sell out days anymore. I was a bit annoyed at one airshow to have to queue to have my pre-printed ticket scanned. Pre-printed tickets can take longer and cause queuing if the systems are not in place to accept them.

    I wonder how many people are put off with advance ticket sales. Not by the principle but by the practicalities of organising family life. Is there any data to show a down turn of sales.

    Also why advance ticket sales now? Since the 70's I've always paid at the gate. All the above issues have always existed. Seems they have only become an issue the last few years. To some extent caused by Shoreham and insurance increases but that's hardly the publics fault.

    As to admin fees surely these should be completely dropped. Take RIAT. I am charged an admin fee yet I download and print the ticket myself. Maybe I should charge RIAT?

    Can I just point out that I am not anti airshow. I have (since 1989 as a ticket purchaser) and will support airshows regardless of tickets and weather.
    Thanks for making this an interesting thread.

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