‘Thinking inside the box’ with Paul Callas, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Information & Sales Manager.
When you call our box office you speak to Information & Sales staff based here at the theatre. Our office overlooks the National Trust Back-to-Backs in Inge Street and the team is much like an extended family who are really passionate about theatre. We love seeing shows, performing in them, talking about them and of course selling tickets for them! This makes us very well experienced to help you decide the seat you would like to book and which shows you don’t want to miss!
On average we deal with nearly 120,000 telephone calls per year. That’s quite a lot of calls which can generate some interesting requests: “Can we have ringside seats for The Nutcracker?”; “Can we book tickets to see Shampoo?” (rather than Hairspray); and recently, a request for tickets to sit in our ‘Ash Trays’ (we normally refer to them as Boxes).
In total there are 9 telephone lines which feed into the Box Office. You may ring us with a Friends membership query, to make a reservation to eat in our StageSide or Circle Restaurants, have a web or online booking query, want to make a group booking, or even be referred from our mobile phone site.
Everyone is trained to answer the diverse nature of all the different queries we receive and, as always, we strive to offer the highest level of customer service to our patrons. Trust me when I say we have to stay on our toes ready for any possible query! Even when we find that we have to break the news gently to some patrons that shows like “Chess” don’t feature Abba’s “Dancing Queen” or that the story of “Cinderella” doesn’t include the seven dwarves (although I am sure that would make an interesting Panto!).
Last year we launched our new website to improve our online ticketing service. I bet you didn’t realise that our website handles approximately 80,000 transactions a year. The new site has received a very positive response from our patrons and we are constantly working to improve it. I am happy to let you know that hopefully before the end of April we will be adding two new features which should improve your experience further. A secure and PCI-compliant password reset, which will allow you to reset your password without our assistance; and a real time digital countdown, which will allow you to see exactly how much time you have remaining in order to finalise your booking.
Every year, across all sales channels, we process about 150,000 orders! Whether you buy your tickets online, or directly over the counter, or on the phone, at some point a member of the team will play a part of the process. Even if it is only using one of the 300,000 envelopes we use every year to post them out to you. Or maybe helping you exchange your tickets to a different performance.
It may sound like we use quite a lot of paper in the ticketing process but over the last few years we have gone “Green”. All of our Envelopes and Ticket Wallets are derived from responsibly sourced materials in accordance with our internal policies. Most recently we have started using 100% recycled tickets. In addition the team take great efforts to keep all unnecessary paper waste to a minimum!
Overall the ticketing team is very diverse, very much like our audience members. We come from all walks of life and every one of us has an interesting story to add to the mix. In addition to our born-and-bred Brummies, we have staff from Ireland, the USA, and even as far away as Australia. Over the last year we had 5 Box Office Weddings, 3 staff members in stage shows around Birmingham, 2 staff members qualify as first aiders and 1 staff member who is now a proud home owner.
2010 was a busy year for us and we look forward to this year and 2012. We know there are some exciting shows on the way! We can’t wait to tell you about them and discuss them with you once they have been announced…
We will be ready and waiting for you all to give us a call on 0844 338 5000.
Follow us on twitter @brumhippodrome or Facebook: Birmingham Hippodrome
tickets for forthcoming productions can also be booked online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com