Q&A

There are bound to be questions – in our experience most of the answers are on this site. If you would like to ask a question that you think may not be covered then the best way is, first, to send us an email and we shall try to get back to you as quickly as possible; or if you prefer to talk to us, secondly, pick up the phone (+44 20 7371 7223) and we shall do our utmost to help – we know that sometimes a human voice is every bit as important as getting the right answer.

What does 'TLC' actually stand for?

We were effectively given the name by our members because they say we deliver ‘with a bit of tender, loving care’. But the acronym can convey many other ideas, such as ‘theatre, leisure and culture’. A Canadian friend calls TLC ‘The London Club’ while a member from the West Country calls us ‘The London Cousins’. Above all, TLC stands for an attitude, the inclusive way we try to do things.

How do I join?

You can join TLC by filling in a membership form.

How many outings and excursions can I expect in a year?

There are at least 40 to 50 events to choose from in the course of the year and the number is growing all the time. Our goal is for you to have as wide a choice and as many opportunities as possible, as long as we can secure, for members, excellent tickets, first class access and the best added-value.

When an event is particularly popular we try to organise more than one date; as it is, we often account for more than 10% of the audience at West End performances and we are often only constrained by the availability of suitable Band A seats.

May I bring guests with me to the theatre or on an outing?

You are more than welcome to bring a guest to any TLC event but priority for tickets will always be given to members. If you wish to bring more than one guest, and tickets are available, there is a supplementary guest surcharge of £10 for each additional guest ticket.

What are the arrangements for meals on the evening of a theatre outing?

We rarely arrange meals with a theatre outing – it would mean eating too early or too late. Sometimes it makes sense to arrange a meal and then we always give plenty of notice. For longer outings meals are part of the overall package.

How do I get to the theatre?

You have a choice – you can make your own way there and back or, for an additional payment, we arrange coaches to pick up and return to a small number of pickup points in convenient locations for TLC members.

How and when do I pay for tickets and outings?

You may pay for tickets with a bank transfer, cheque or debit/credit card, online, by letter or even by telephone.

On each event flyer we give a ‘to be booked and paid for’ date: this is the last date by which we must have received your payment or we will not buy tickets for you (except by prior arrangement).

What happens if the tickets have sold out?

We generally ask for a substantial allocation from the outset. However, tickets often sell out and, if demand is that much higher than we thought likely, we happily return to the box office to ask for more seats of the right quality at the right discounted price. Sometimes that is not possible. If there is enough demand we shall try to arrange a second date. But sometimes it just is not possible and we cannot meet everybody’s request – that is why we run a strict first-come, first served policy and why the website system will log your demand but not charge you if you request tickets after our allocation has gone.

When I pay for a ticket what happens to the money – and to the ticket?

Once you have paid for a ticket it is yours and the money is paid to the venue. We hold tickets, unless you ask us not to, because it makes sense if you need to cancel at the last moment – we often have a waiting list and if we did not hold the ticket we could not put you and a prospective buyer in contact.

If you hold onto the tickets how do I know that I have been allocated a seat?

We shall send you an acknowledgement by email and, if you wish, a letter so that you can put a bit of paper in the diary or on the board in the kitchen to remind you.

How much do you charge for tickets?

When we buy tickets we negotiate the best discount we can for the best seats (Band A) and we pass the whole of that discount on to members. There is an administration charge of £2.50 per order (whether you have bought one ticket or 30) primarily to cover banking charges.

How do I receive my ticket?

You will receive confirmation that you have been allocated a ticket(s) – we hold the tickets on your behalf and you receive them on the evening. This approach has many advantages, not least that if you cannot make it at the last minute (see below) you are spared all the hassle of trying to return the ticket and we can have a go at placing it with another member.

If I cannot make a date for the theatre or an outing do I get my money refunded?

If you are unable to make it to the theatre or any other outing, excursion or event we take all reasonable steps to place your ticket with the next name on the waiting list or with another member, which is why we hold onto tickets on your behalf. If it is for an excursion we shall refund any part of the cost that we have not already paid out or contracted to pay out; and we shall try to find somebody else to take your place. However, there is no guarantee that we can dispose of tickets. We do not charge if we cannot dispose of your tickets at the last moment but there is a £10 admin fee to cover our time and costs if we have been successful on your behalf.

When you take members on a trip what is included in the price?

We describe what is included on every excursion or trip when we advertise it. In general, however, we try to ensure that all transport, all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), entrance fees, guides, accommodation and gratuities are included, leaving you only to cope with your insurance, drinks and personal shopping.

Does TLC have a clubhouse anywhere?

TLC is a club with no fixed abode; we find locations for talks and other events when necessary and try to offer a variety of places to meet. That said, we are primarily a social group and not a ticket agency.

Can you take account of dietary requirements and allergies on outings?

We always try to find out about dietary requirements and to make sure that venues (hotels, restaurants, halls) are aware – we clearly mark allergies on menu cards but, in the end, it is up to you to keep us posted and to remind us please.

The outings are described as ‘hosted’; in what way exactly?

We want our members to feel as if they are guests at a party, mixing with other guests, getting along and enjoying themselves in each other’s company. We try to make sure that everybody feels included, with table plans at lunches and dinners. There may be many reasons why a person feels left out (bereavement or a change in personal circumstances can be devastating isolators) and we aim to avoid exclusion as much as possible. We have found that our members are the greatest advocates of inclusion and hosting. Much of the pleasure of going to an event in company is to enjoy the company, not just the event.

If a member is not very mobile is there a restriction on coming on outings?

Not every one of our members is mobile (Julian often has to walk with a stick himself). We warn members if a trip is going to be a bit taxing or quite arduous, using a traffic light system. Green means pretty easy; amber is a bit tricky and red is not advised for any but the reasonably fit and active. If you have real mobility problems then we ask that you bring a carer or companion with you, buying a second ticket. Above all we ask you to think about other members and apply the very simple ‘how would I like it?’ test.

Mobility Guide

I do not hear very well; can you ensure that I am always close to the front of the theatre or near the speaker?

TLC is not hierarchical and we try to avoid the ‘top table’ mentality. We find this works best for everybody. However we do try hard to accommodate requests to sit near the stage, on the aisle or next to somebody in particular. And we check the audio system at every location to make sure it works or that there is a functioning hearing loop. We also use the Vox Audio system wherever possible so that everybody can hear the guide on outings.

What is the Vox Audio system?

We love the freedom that Vox allows; it hangs lightly around the neck on a lanyard and a single earpiece is inserted. Julian uses it without having to remove his hearing aid and it works perfectly. The volume is adjustable and you can clearly hear the guide within a distance of 200 yards or more. It allows members to cover the ground at their own pace without slowing up the group or interrupting the guide’s flow. We have introduced it at many very grand houses who wouldn’t be without it now.

Is TLC insured or bonded for overseas travel?

All overseas travel involving air transport will be handled through LeisureFare Limited, a company that we have worked with since its establishment in 2001, under the umbrella protection of their ABTA membership (P6166) and ATOL protection (licence number 6097).

For shorter journeys, not involving flights, we work with highly reputable coach operators and are covered by their liability insurance in addition to our own.

It remains, however, the responsibility of each member and their guests to arrange their own insurance for cancellation, loss, medical emergencies or evacuation and any other mishaps along the way.

What general arrangements does TLC have for insurance in the UK?

We are appropriately insured in the UK for public liability but we require members to take out their own travel insurance. We also have worked with a specialist company to create a First Aid course for us and for our co-hosts. It is designed for the likely needs of our members.

How do you choose the plays, outings and excursions?

We have a vast array of options to look at and we approach people with our own ideas – Maria has a prodigious knowledge of the theatre scene, built up over five decades, and she produces StageForm cards for each play that is being considered; they appear on the members’ site. From the StageForm card Maria gives a tipster’s score (1 to 5) and we secure tickets for the ones that score highest. We always try to add value – we have turned down ideas where being in a group is a disadvantage.

What sort of hotels do you use on nights away?

We always aim for 4 star hotels; we use Marriott, Best Western Plus, Hilton DoubleTree, Accor M and others. Where we find an independent hotel that can cope with the numbers we look at it. We always visit hotels and discuss our requirements with them and to date have found every hotel very receptive to our way of doing things.

I am a member of English Heritage/National Trust; can I still get my free entry if I go to one of their houses with TLC?

Yes – normally. We always tell the National Trust and English Heritage what proportion of our groups are members and to date that has always resulted in free access but that is down to their rules, not ours.

I live abroad/I live a long way from London and visit infrequently: are there events that would appeal to me?

The programme will always have periods when we offer two or three plays, outings or events on consecutive days and nights.

We plan at least four London Weeks a year, applying the same inclusive, hosted approach that we have for all our events. These will include hotel accommodation, visits in and around London, meals, speakers, theatre and other tickets. London members are also invited to join parts of each event so they really are a social gathering away form home.

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