The Fan Advisory Board asks us… how does the virtual waiting room for ticket sales operate?

From the official Chelsea FC website:

In recent meetings with the club’s Fan Advisory Board (FAB), fan representatives posed a series of questions they are commonly asked by other supporters. We continue to answer those questions in a new series…

The third edition of ‘The FAB asks the club…’ deals with the online process for buying tickets for Chelsea games – and in particular how the system operates when demand is high?

Areas dealt with include:

  • The waiting system and whether entry into the sales point is a random process
  • Whether hacking into the system is a concern
  • Monitoring who is successful in accessing tickets

Here is the background and answers…

The purchasing of tickets for home and away matches for all the Chelsea teams is generally an online process. In common with other portals for ticket buying, at times there will be immediate access to book the tickets required and the transaction will be completed quickly, while on other occasions when the demand for tickets is high, there will be a wait.

At those busy times, which are often when tickets for a match first go on sale or a new window for buying begins for supporters with the required number of loyalty points, what is titled the Virtual Waiting Room appears on screen.

Ticket-buying fans may be familiar with the dotted bar illustrating the ongoing wait and the recommendation not to refresh the window on your browser.

That is because refreshing will not open the doors to the sales point any quicker. If your opportunity to buy arises, you will exit the wait and enter the sale without needing to take action.

As the sale progresses, the waiting page shows updates on which areas of the ground still have tickets available and when those areas are down to single seats only, indicating the level of sales before the available allocation is announced to have sold out completely.

Entry from the Virtual Waiting Room into the main portal for buying tickets is genuinely random. It makes no difference how early you enter the Waiting Room. When someone secures their ticket and space becomes available, they are not replaced by whoever has been waiting longest. Instead it could be anyone still there waiting.

There is no benefit in joining early as it is not a queue, it is random entry. That is why ticket buyers are not shown a number for their position in the queue while waiting, as there is no queue.

For that reason, we recommend supporters log in to the portal approximately five minutes before the sale starts, so they are ready for it to begin but have not wasted more time. It is also important not to have multiple browser tabs open at one time as this can cause an error in the process, decreasing your chances of making it through to the ticket-buying stage.

Naturally, there may be concerns that ‘bots’ could be swamping the system and grabbing multiple places in the ticket-buying portal the moment they become available.

Our system has anti-bot technology in place to counter that. We are always looking at new ways to combat unfair access and our measures are evolving. Where we have become aware of issues this season we have taken action and will continue to do so.

When it comes to the possibility of an individual attempting to bypass the Virtual Waiting Room and hack straight into the buying portal, we are not aware of anyone doing that.

We are able to view how ticket-buyers are entering the system and in the past when there has been an attempt to hack in, we have been able to close that down.

We can also reassure supporters that when the visitors’ ticket allocation for an away game is smaller than for most grounds, such as when we played at Bournemouth and Luton this season, no one is having an unusually high success rate in buying tickets within the window for which their loyalty-points total grants them access.

We check constantly who is obtaining tickets for matches and with our measures in place, the data shows it is totally random.

Looking to the future, the introduction of mobile ticketing via the Official Chelsea App will have no impact on or lead to any changes in the online ticket-selling process, other than in the way the tickets are delivered.





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