New research finds only 4% of bookings that included wheelchair access needs were made online, compared to 60% of all transactions.

A photo of an empty theatre auditorium

Wheelchair users are being excluded from booking tickets for arts events online, a new report reveals.

An analysis of data from 343 arts organisations, carried out by ticketing software company Spektrix, finds “considerable unmet demand” for wheelchair-accessible seats that can be booked online. Only 15% of venues in the UK and Ireland make these seats bookable online, according to the research.

And only 4% of bookings that included wheelchair access needs were made online, compared to 60% of all transactions.

Mobile sales

The Spektrix Insights Report draws on data from organisations in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, USA and Canada that use the company’s CRM system.

Spektrix claims that over 25 million items were purchased across its system in 2018. UK venues that use it include Town Hall and Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Bristol Old Vic, the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and The Royal Court Theatre, London.

The report highlights the increasing prevalence of online transactions in the arts. Mobile sales are identified as a key area of growth, with 46% of visits to the Spektrix ‘online purchase path’ being on mobile phones.

But the data also indicates that in-person purchases continue to be important – particularly for larger amounts of money.

On average, these transactions are 40% higher in value, a figure which the report in part attributes to group sales and “in-person cultivation of major gifts”.


Additionally, the data reveals that while ‘upselling of supplementary items’ is nearly two times more prevalent online than it is in-person or on the phone, in-person upselling represents 35% more in value.

Similarly, while it is six times more likely for donations with ticket sales to be made online, donations made in-person or over the phone are nearly twice as high in monetary value.

The report concludes that although arts organisations need to invest in technology to maximise online revenue, more traditional methods should not be neglected.

It says: “Investing in the customer and donor-facing team’s ability to connect with audiences in person and on the phone yields major gains in revenue and engagement that technology is hard-pressed to match.”



I'm regularly frustrated at the lack of Internet booking..... But.... I also believe there are benefits to both patron and disabled audience member in being directed to a personalised phone call rather than online systems. In comes down to choice. For example there are times when I know the venue, know exactly what I require and need then I want to be able to use a quick online service I can use for free and where ever I want. However if it is a new venue or I need personalised information specific to my needs then bring able to talk to a member of staff in person or on the phone is needed. There should be choice, and no financial penalty either. It is frustrating when I have to spend up to 33p (was the most expensive I've experienced) a minute to book tickets. This week I called about tickets on the advertised date of sale... To be told I couldn't book tickets over the phone till a day after online sales had started. And it was impossible to book accessible tickets online....