Today we interview Paul Deason, Manager of BookF1.com and BookMoto.com, arguably the biggest independent UK Formula 1 and MotoGP ticket agency
Tell us first about yourself and how the company started?
My first memories of Formula 1 go back to watching the races on TV with my father in the mid-90’s when Schumacher was emerging as a dominant force. However, it was not until many years later that myself and a group of friends booked tickets to see our first live race at Catalunya Circuit. We booked through a ticketing company without giving it too much thought, but unfortunately would later regret it. I won’t go into all the details here, but the tickets arrived just a couple of days before the race and the customer service we received from the company was abysmal. This experience was the starting point of an idea to create a helpful motorsport ticketing company that put service as its priority. In 2003 bookF1.com was born, and the rest is history!
What is the process when people order tickets from you?
We aim to make the booking process as easy and straightforward as possible. We completely understand that tickets for Formula 1 and MotoGP are a big purchase and so we try and provide as much information as possible in a useful way on our website so our customers have everything they need to make a decision on their tickets. Similarly, we’re always happy to offer any assistance by email or telephone if required.
Most of our customers choose to book online through our website, but we also welcome bookings over the telephone. We accept a range of payments methods including credit/debit card, PayPal, bank transfers and cheques, and in Pounds, Euros, and US Dollars.
Once your booking is placed and we have secured your tickets with the relevant circuit, the next step can be the hardest part – waiting for them to be printed! Each host circuit has their own procedures for ticket printing but in most cases the tickets are printed around 2-6 weeks before the race. We always turn tickets around for dispatch as quickly as possible once they are printed, but we are subject to each circuit’s ticketing print runs.
Once your tickets are ready, we’ll send them out by signed-for courier with the event timetable and circuit map. For some events we can also offer a box office collection for late bookings. Customers can also access their online account through our website which we update with any additional information and downloads as they become available near to the race.
Next is the best part – to enjoy the race!
Once customers return from the race, we’re always grateful for any feedback they can provide for both other visitors and also for ourselves so we can look to continuously improve our service.
Looking at your websites compared to other ticket agencies, I notice a number significant differences. You provide a wealth of information about each race. You also actively encourage reviews of each race circuit. For example, when I looked, the British F1 Grand Prix had over 3,300 reviews?
It should never be underestimated what an important purchase the tickets are for fans and there is no greater satisfaction for us then customers coming away from an event happy with their experience. Because each customer’s needs are different, I strongly believe the best way to help customers with their purchase is by providing them with as much information as possible (both positive and negative) so they can make an informed decision. It’s also worth keeping in mind that tickets are often being purchased as a gift by somebody who is not very familiar with Formula 1 and MotoGP.
We’ve created a range of pages with general information, advice, and images to assist customers with their booking; but central to this is customer reviews. Our staff couldn’t realistically sit in every single grandstand at every race on the motorsport calendar to review them, and even if they did, they may have a completely different perspective to another spectator. Therefore, by pooling reviews from past fans, from the event as a whole down to individual grandstands, it’s a great opportunity to get a wide range of perspectives and advice for future customers, and it acts as an invaluable tool for choosing tickets and picking up extra tips to get the most out of the event.
Then there is the race reward points. What’s that?
The race rewards points scheme was launched from the 2011 season and is a way we provide a little extra thank you for our returning customers. If you have booked for any event with us, you’ll be assigned reward points based on the value of the booking. Then when you place a future booking with us for either the Formula 1 or MotoGP, you can redeem your points as a cash discount off the booking total.
Why should someone buy their tickets from you rather than one of the other ticket agencies?
For me, this comes to the value of the product and service you receive for your money. We always aim to be competitively priced on the tickets, but beyond this we put an emphasis on providing you with all the support you need from your initial enquiry, right through to attending the event and feedback after.
It’s no secret that the past behaviour of some ticketing companies has given bad press to the industry, and understandably so. At bookF1.com, one of our priorities is to provide clear information to customers at all stages so they’re confident about their purchase. This includes providing a complete quotation inclusive of all service and delivery fees upfront on the checkout before requesting any personal or payment information, we only charge customers cards in the exact currency they select, and we provide email updates and an online account on the status of bookings, to name a but a few. Essentially it is about ensuring customers know exactly what they are buying, how much it will cost upfront, and what is happening with their booking as it progresses. Unfortunately we still see some competitors who can be misleading in these areas.
Our team’s role is to support and help customers – we don’t employ ‘salespeople’ and so unlike some competitors you won’t be pushed into buying something you’re not comfortable with and you won’t find the level of support drops off as soon as you’ve purchased. We’re genuinely there to assist you at any time with your booking, which is something I believe our competitors cannot match.
We always ask our customers for feedback on our service after each race, and so far from over 5,000 responses received, we have scored on average 4.7 out of 5.0 stars. But we’re never complacent, and will continue to strive to improve our service and offering to customers.
Ticket agencies have gone bust in the past – I can recall one in the UK and one European from recent years. How can people be confident that you will be around to deliver their tickets?
In the current economic client, people are understandably cautious about purchasing with a company they haven’t used before, particularly over the internet. bookF1.com is now approaching its 12-year anniversary, which hopefully gives customers reassurance that we’re a stable and responsible company. We also have an ‘About Us’ section on our website where customers can find out extra information about our company. However, if anyone is particularly concerned about making a ticket purchase, then my best advice would be to use a credit card to pay, as your credit card will generally come with inbuilt protection that if for any reason the company you’re buying a product from fails to deliver it then you can claim your money back from your credit card provider, even if the company you made the purchase with is no longer trading.
On the flip-side, we also offer customers optional Booking Protection, which means that if for any reason they are unable to attend the event after purchase as a result of factors such as sickness, injury, travel delays, event cancellation/rescheduling, and even jury service, then they can claim back the full cost of their booking.
I see that you offer an affiliate scheme. How does that work?
The affiliate scheme is one of the ways we advertise our products and services. Formula 1 and MotoGP have a huge fan-base and so we offer website owners the opportunity to promote bookF1.com to their visitors, and for any customers that we generate as a result of this, we reward the website owner for their support through a commission.
Our thanks to Paul for his time in answering our questions.
Did you enjoy this article? Please share with your friends.