Have you ever been sucked in by a bargain ticket price, only to get to the end of the booking process to find that you’re going to end up paying a lot more than you expected in booking fees? It’s a regular occurrence when booking plane tickets, but it’s becoming more and more common in the performing arts world.
This morning the Adelaide Festival Centre announced that they would be introducing a $8.95 transaction fee, which makes Adelaide Festival Centre the final capital city performing arts centre to introduce such a fee.
The Melbourne Arts Centre currently charges a $7.95 transaction fee, the Sydney Opera House charges $8.50 and the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia charges $6.95. Commercial operators Ticketek and Ticketmaster have both had varying transaction fees for years now. Interestingly, Ticketmaster now declares its payment processing fee as part of the ticket price from the beginning of the booking process.
CEO and Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival Centre Douglas Gautier said: “This was a difficult but necessary decision to bring our operation into line with all other capital city performing arts centres and puts us on a level playing field with our colleagues interstate.”
He said: “The money raised by the transaction fee will reinvested into our programs and facilities so that we can continue to present programs and events of excellence for all South Australians.”
Which begs the question: why is it referred to as a transaction fee, if it isn’t necessarily going towards the cost of running a box office able to handle transactions?
Given the fact that the fee was announced via a media release, you could hardly accuse Adelaide Festival Centre of trying to hide the fee and spring it on purchasers as a surprise.
But the bigger question, that many ask when it comes to transaction fees, is: if it’s necessary to generate more revenue from sales, to cover the cost of running an arts centre with a box office, why not just increase the cost of the tickets themselves?
It’s an argument that’s being held in other theatre cities around the world. In London, booking fees can often add up to 30% to the price of a ticket, which has resulted in a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority that ticketing agents must make their transaction fees clear at the beginning of the booking process. The advertised price for a theatre ticket, in London, must now include the booking fee.