Durham Gala to launch bar app allowing audience to order drinks from their seats
Thirsty theatre fans could soon find it easier to enjoy a beer with the Bard or a pint with Pinter.
County bosses are working on a tech upgrade for one of Durham’s theatres, meaning audiences shouldn’t have to face waiting for Godot before their tipple.
Durham County Council (DCC) is set to unveil a new app for the Gala Theatre, in Durham City, allowing audiences to avoid the half-time crucible at the bar by ordering from their seats and retrieving it from the bar at the interval.
“If you’ve been there for a crowded show you will know the bar is not big enough, so we’ve built an app where you can order drinks in advance or from your seat,” said Alan Patrickson, the county council’s head of digital and customer service.
“It’s almost ready to go through and we’re also working on doing similar for things like the Christmas panto for ancillary things, like a big foam hand.
“There’s an element of increasing revenue, but also improving customer experience – like if you want a gin and tonic at half time, if you’re at a show where you really need a gin and tonic at half time.”
Patrickson was speaking at a meeting of DCC’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board.
Coun Rob Crute, the committee’s chairman, suggested a similar system should also be installed at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light for fans watching this season’s tempest.
Patrickson added it had been hoped to have the app ready for the theatre’s most recent panto season but it ‘wasn’t quite ready’.
However, while the app plans were generally welcomed, Liberal Democrat opposition councillor Mark Wilkes criticised the theatre and cinema’s current online service, claiming the booking system was deterring customers.
He said: “The website is about 12 years old at least, it’s not been touched since the old city council days, and it actually stopped me booking a ticket.”
Patrickson told the panel the Gala Theatre’s website had been updated ‘a number of times’ in recent years, but also conceded the box office online service was run through a different site.
He assured councillors plans were being worked on to improve this and introduce e-tickets for customers.