It’s been five years in the making, but searching for Broadway show tickets on Telecharge.com just got a little easier as they just launched their Beta version of their re-designed site, which we reviewed in a previous post on this blog. The new version looks different, but more importantly, it works differently. With the site’s new capabilities, particularly regarding ticket searches, Telecharge.com is finally catching up to Ticketmaster.com. But they are still not there yet, as they lack functionality and utilize an awkward design that doesn’t appear to have been through adequate user testing yet.
Telecharge.com now utilizes a graphical map, a feature vastly preferred by users as a method for choosing seats when ordering Broadway tickets. Telecharge’s new theater maps make it easier for customers to view seat availability for a performance, seeing exactly one the theater’s seating chart which seats are still available and enabling them to directly choose available seats from the map.
However, not all Broadway shows have opted to allow this feature. Presumably stuck in the old way of doing things, they ask Telecharge to turn off the map selection feature, so that ticket buyers have to struggle through the traditional method of slogging through whatever ‘best available’ choices the computer offers them. Although this ticket search offers detailed parameters for searching, you have to enter the captcha code each time you look at the next best set of seats, which can be time-consuming at best and aggravating at worst.
Even for the Broadway shows that do allow users to select seats via map, it can be difficult to actually notice the feature, since it is relatively hidden down at the bottom of the Find Tickets page and the user must deliberately select it (the default option is for Telecharge to “recommend” seats). And if the Broadway show in question does not offer the feature, Telecharge simply eliminates the choice from the page rather than showing it as a “greyed out” option, confusing the user by making it seem as though the feature is never available at all.
Broadway shows that do not currently support the graphical search function include:
The Book of Mormon, Bring It On: The Musical, Clybourne Park, The Heiress, and Jersey Boys.
Its unclear why these shows are hold-outs, but it could be that they are concerned that ticket brokers will use the new feature to game the system (a theory supported by the fact that two of Broadway’s most popular shows, The Book of Mormon and Jersey Boys, are among the few that don’t use the map search).There may also be a concern among Broadway producers that, because the map allows users to get a good sense of how ticket sales are going, potential ticket buyers may be less inclined to buy tickets for a show that has a lot of availability and therefore seems “unpopular”. Broadway producers have always been rather cagey about declaring sales numbers, and the seat availability map lays bare the reality of sales numbers at a real-time pace.
It is anticipated that the Shuberts will fine tune the telecharge.com beta website over the next few weeks, with an apparent full launch date in the Fall of this year.