With fall upon us, there is a lot of chatter about tickets. Most cultural entities--orchestras, museums, theaters and dance companies launch their seasons at this time of year; baseball is starting the playoffs, football season is in full swing, and basketball is just around the corner. As most of these require tickets, and few attendees go solo, there is serious potential for etiquette breaches in the ticket realm.
One ticket conundrum that has recently been brought to my attention by a Grantly Friend involves the use of 'comped' tickets. For the purposes of this anecdote, I will refer to him as 'GF', though this is not his real name. In GF's profession, he is frequently offered free tickets to cultural events, which he then, as a Grant, shares with his friends if he is unable (or unwilling, as in the case of many performance art shows) to use them.
In general this is a lovely scenario in which everyone is happy. GF does a good turn for an Opera Loving Friend by giving him costly and hard to procure tickets. OLF is thrilled with the opportunity to enjoy his passion at virtually no cost. GF is overjoyed to avoid a night at the opera, far preferring a baseball game. The Opera Company is glad to spread its wealth to influential GF and to avoid the shame of an empty seat. Win win win.
But here's the rub: if OLF accepts the tickets and does not use them, everybody loses. GF has egg on face because his seats are empty, plus he feels badly that the Opera Company has forgone cost of the tickets by not selling then. OLF has wasted the tickets which might have easily been offered to another OLF. Moral of the story: if you accept tickets (whether the giver has paid for them or not) be sure to use them. It may well be that the OLF was less invested since he knew the tickets were comped, but this is irrelevant. If you won't be parking your bootie in the seat, make sure someone does. Let the original ticket holder know that the tickets are up for grabs asap so there is a chance he can regift them and save face for everyone.
Here are some additional guidelines....
- If you are invited to a concert, game, or play as a date, you should not be expected to reimburse the ticket costs. [If that is the general formula of your current significant other, you may want to rethink your choice.] It would, however, be Gracious to pony up for refreshments or other incidentals during the evening.
- If you are invited by a friend, colleague or other non romantic peer, and their intentions on the costs are not clear, offer to pay for the ticket. In general, the 'inviter' covers the ticket costs but playoff games are steep, times are tough, and you don't want to presume. If he doesn't accept your offer to pay, great, but be double sure that you kick in for other costs--food/drink/parking, etc.
- The best way to avoid confusion, and I'm talking now to the 'inviters', is to be clear at the outset.
- If you want to treat, say: "Dan, I have two tickets to the National League Division Series tomorrow. Want to come? It's on me." or "Susan, would you like to come with me to the Museum's opening of the Degas exhibit as my guest?"
- If you don't plan to pay for everyone, say: "Dan, I bought two tix to tomorrow's game; they were $87 each, do you want to come? No pressure; I won't have trouble selling the spare, but I know you're a huge fan and it should be a great game." or "Susan, the Degas exhibit opens next week. Tix are $25. Shall I get us a pair? We can settle up later." Once you mention the price, it should be abundantly clear that you are not planning to cover costs.