How is Tessitura Getting Ready for GDPR?

GDPR // Ticketing System Readiness Series

How are leading systems responding to changes in EU Data Protection? In the latest in this series we take a look at Tessitura

System

Tessitura

 

Background

Tessitura Network has always had data protection features present in their software and they have worked with their European Licensees to build a more granular specification for the new privacy features to meet the GDPR requirements. These were released in the latest iteration of the software (Version 14).

 

Their view

As a non-profit organisation, Tessitura Network exists to serve its licensees. The development of specific privacy functions to enable the venues they work with to be GDPR compliant has been driven by close consultation with these licensees.

 

What we saw

During our session, we were shown the latest release of software configured for a demonstration environment. We saw the staff interfaces for viewing and manipulating constituent (customer) records and ticket orders. We did not see a live example of how this will look online as this is currently in development.

 

Great to see

Tessitura is one of two systems we have seen that delivers a smooth and logical data journey for collecting explicit consent for third party producers and promoters. More systems really do need to prioritise not only this compliance but delivering it this well. We saw this working in the orders and customer screen in Tessitura and it is similar to what we have seen with others in prompting for consent based on basket contents and previous permissions gained.

 

As you can see in the ticket orders screen above, Paddington has never been asked for these permissions and this has caused the permissions box to pop up automatically at the end of an order. If Paddington had placed something in his basket that required the staff member to ask permission on behalf of another organisation, such as a visiting, partner or funded organisation, those permissions would also automatically pop such as below. You can see that ‘Organisation B’ has been flagged for a permission because of what is in Paddington’s basket.

 

If a permission becomes out of date, this will also cause the box to pop up – prompting the sales person to update the customer’s permissions. There is a ‘Today’ button that can be clicked if the customer is happy to continue with the same permissions as they already have on file.

 

 What we didn’t see ……. but is coming

The ability to clearly see in the audit logs that permissions regarding contacts were changed, the before and after values, who changed them, in what channel, when etc. This is a much-needed piece of functionality as you will need to specifically document when, who and who gave explicit consent if your organisation chooses to use consent as a basis for on-going processing. Tessitura’s auditing already includes this information, it is the displaying of it that is in development for release shortly.

 

Transition Services and Issues

With an extensive consultancy offering, Tessitura have a range of services to help manipulate or update existing data sets. Although we did not see it in operation, we understand that the ‘Out of the Box’ web interface TNEW (Tessitura Network Express Web) will gain access to these privacy controls as we saw in the back office. Of course, those organisations that have developed their own web flows against Tessitura’s impressive API will need to work with their digital agencies (Apps too!) to ensure these features and functions are being fully utilised.

 

Issue to consider

In the set-up we saw the title of a consent strand and communication channel ie ‘Marketing – SMS’ / ‘Fundraising – email’ it was not possible for the full statement to appear in the ticket orders screen however this could easily be stored in a custom table or screen if desired. Tessitura Network staff pointed out that this would also normally form part of your staff training and monitoring. However, venues will need to consider how longer term they ensure that the questions being asked are being kept inline with permissions already gained, if they are using consent as the basis for on-going processing and communication.

 

Stand out feature

In addition to only being the second system to deliver great tools for data sharing, we particularly like how granular Tessitura can be at reconfirming consent. Their superb ‘TODAY’ button allows staff to simply reconfirm all existing permissions with a single click when a customer is in contact with the call centre or box office. It will be interesting to see how the web takes advantage of this feature.

 

Overall

Tessitura’s community based steering has led it to deliver some smart tools, with end users in mind, allowing them to deploy their own organisation’s GDPR interpretation or policies as they see fit, not as their software company sees.

 


This article gives information in relation to what we consider to be best practice. However, compliance is context and fact sensitive and as such following any guidance does not guarantee regulatory or statutory compliance.

The Information Commissioners Office will judge any complaint on its own merits, and organisations in need of context or situation specific legal advice should seek it from an appropriately qualified source.


This work has been made possible by support from Arts Council England

ACE_Logo


 

Chiefs Select Secutix

 

EXETER CHIEFS APPOINT SECUTIX AS ITS NEW TICKETING PARTNER 

 

 

Club Has Partnered With The Cloud-Based Ticketing Platform To Support Their Digital Ambitions

 

London, Lausanne, Paris, Madrid – 12 October 2017: English rugby club and current Aviva Premiership Champions Exeter Chiefs  have appointed SecuTix as its official ticketing technology partner.

Following a competitive tender process, SecuTix, the global provider of a ticketing engagement platform for the sports, culture and entertainment industries, has begun work across the Chiefs’ two businesses: the rugby club itself and their stadium, Sandy Park.  Alongside being the home ground for the rugby club, Sandy Park is a successful conference and banqueting centre.

The Club will use the cloud-based SecuTix 360° software to:

  • Grow their online ticketing business
  • Increase the average basket value through both upselling and cross-selling
  • Offer an enhanced fan experience when purchasing tickets online with 3D seat mapping technology, thanks to SecuTix’s ability to integrate with PACIFA technology
  • Develop deeper relationships with their corporate audience through an improved hospitality customer journey
  • Gain a 360-degree understanding of their fans and be able to engage with them across digital and mobile touchpoints

 

Tony Rowe OBE, Chairman & CEO of Exeter Chiefs, said: “We wanted to partner with a modern technology ticketing company that could support our digital ambitions for both the Club and Sandy Park. The SecuTix team impressed us with their experience of ticketing and the rugby sector.  Together we will use data to better understand what the fans want, create a first-class experience for them and drive a commercial return for the Club.”

Frédéric Longatte, CEO of SecuTix commented: “We’re very much looking forward to working with such a top-flight team as the Chiefs.  We’re confident that our SecuTix 360° platform, which is delivered as ‘software as a service’ (SaaS), will benefit the Club across not just ticketing, but also CRM and digital marketing.  It’s exciting times with plans in place to extend Sandy Park to 20, 000 seats and SecuTix will support the Club throughout this period of expansion to help them realise their vision for the future.”

Exeter Chiefs sell over 200,000 tickets annually.  It is the second Premiership Club to partner with SecuTix, Saracens being the first back in 2016.

 

About SecuTix

SecuTix is a European technology provider of a Ticketing Engagement Platform that helps organisations boost ticket sales and enhance audiences’ experience before, during and after live events. Our product, SecuTix 360°, is a cloud-based platform that combines ticketing and marketing functionality, and is offered as a white label SaaS service. Used by the largest sport clubs and stadiums, live entertainment businesses, and leading museums and cities across Europe, SecuTix manages the yearly sales of 30 million tickets. Among our clients are Opéra National de Paris, UEFA, Centre Pompidou, Aspro Parks, Saracens RFC, Paléo Festival, Musée Picasso Paris and more. A daughter company of the ELCA Group, SecuTix has a local presence in Switzerland, France, Spain and the UK.

 

 

Why I Changed Ticketing Systems – A Consultant’s View

Many of you reading this will be responsible for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of tickets per annum, perhaps realising ten of millions of pounds in revenue. You sell theatre shows, sports events and much much more.

 I wanted to share a story of changing ticketing systems on a MUCH smaller scale.

 We recently migrated ticketing platform, I say platform, should be more like plug in, for the Ticketing Professionals Conference registration.

“your website is broken” – sound familiar?

 Sounds easy doesn’t it? 400 places, two price codes, a few promotions and one general admission event.

 Embarrassing

It was embarrassing, that as a conference for Ticketing Professionals we had a system so prone to, how shall I put it, moments of……er……. oddness. I remember receiving an email from Liz Baird of Wales Millennium Centre in early 2016 struggling to book her place. When I looked into the issue, she had attempted on less than 5 or 6 times to register. No payment, just register.

 It’s embarrassing we can’t get ticketing right isn’t it?”

We sorted her registration and I emailed an apology and said “It’s embarrassing we can’t get ticketing right isn’t it?”

“Yes, a bit” she replied.

 We carried on for 2016 and ran the system through the 2017 conference booking process, but it became clear as we entered our busiest period, things would have to change, both for our own sanity, but also our image.

 

Support for $139 / Annum?

Away from the public facing issues we experienced, we also had some real back end issues. Really basic things, like wanting to clearly and efficiently show VAT (UK sales tax) in our pricing structure and to calculate and present it properly during the transaction.

 We were using a simple annual licence of a WordPress plug in, we are still using a plug in, just a different one, as part of that there are support strands, normally by forum. I don’t think, for the price you can expect much more now can you?

 I got constantly frustrated by what seem as apparent answers being vague or pushing the issue to another forum, product or issue. Something as basic and making sure a customer got a confirmation email became a long and drawn out affair.

 Whatever platform you use, for whatever genre, there are some things that it should just DO. Printing a ticket? Sales Summary Report? Client Record? ( the list goes on here )

 

Business being held back

So we had the public facing issues, the back end issues, which, to a certain extent we could manage, but we began to feel we were missing out on functions or rather business benefit from functions.

 What do you mean by that? Well here’s a perfect example – our old system supported promotion codes (for a extra fee) but they were for all price codes in one event.

 So when we want to do a special promotion for venue, but not for vendor registrations we could not do that. Again it sounds small, but it was holding us back, we either had to apply the promotion code to everything and try and plaster advertising that it was only valid on a certain ticket and check every booking or not run the promo. Either way it was holding us back.

 

Greener Grass?

Unlike a lot of you, there was no complex data migration or mass staff training, but there were still some key tasks to undertake.

One of the key ones was to integrate with our (yet constructed) website. We eventually chose a theme that was designed for conferences and optimised to work with our new platform. I guess many of you may have done the same – ‘what other orgs have you worked with / have you experience of integrating with XYZ Ticket system?’

The great advantage of this step to bring things together is that we can easily drop widgets throughout the site, something we often see in AudienceView sites, and one of my stand out favourite advantages of that system.

Easy to Add Widgets – A Great Feature

We have lost features though, some we did not realise that were really useful to us. We used to have a great API to Mailchimp to add new delegates to our mailing list and flag their attendance. This allowed for segmented mailing to target or exclude booked attendees, we have had to resort to a manual process.

 This highlights that any change will see advantages, but likely loss of a feature or business benefit

 

Worth It?

Heh, we still have some back end lifting to do with our new platform. The number one issue we wanted to resolve was a tighter web integration, better online customer experience and fewer “your website is broken calls” – sound familiar?

 As a venue operator I changed system four times, all with net positives, I did 60+ transformations as a vendor and around 25 as a consultant, so I can say I have experience of it!

 It was a great experience to go back to the coal face and experience the frustrations or users, agony of research and the pain of implementation. On the back end of the project, I can’t imagine using anything else, I am thoroughly happy. Now, back to the business of using it to sell tickets………. While your here, have you booked for #TPC2018 yet?

 Check out our engine and get your place here (shameless plug over)

 

 

Eventim Partners with FC United

Eventim Forms Partnership with FC United of Manchester

LONDON 2 August 2017. Eventim UK are pleased to announce their partnership with FC United of Manchester, the community football club owned and run by its members. Eventim will now deal with all of the club’s ticketing provisions including season tickets for 2017/2018 and 3-year season tickets, all available now.

 

The partnership came about after Eventim attended one of the club’s matches, being impressed by the family feel of the club they approached FC United regarding their ticketing. As FC United of Manchester matches attract crowds of more than 2,500 (several times the league average) ticketing had become a problematic area for the club.

 

Adrian Seddon, Board Member of FC United of Manchester, explains:

 

“Ticketing was an area which placed a big strain on our staff and volunteers, especially when dealing with the season ticket and membership rush over the summer and although they coped admirably this partnership will be very beneficial to the club.”

 

Eventim has extensive experience ticketing sports events, as a ticketing partner for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and as the official ticketing partner for some of the biggest names in European football, such as; Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.

 

The offering includes season ticket and membership card fulfilment, access control, print at home tickets and a co-branded ticketing webshop.

 

FC United of Manchester season tickets for 2017/2018 or a 3-year season ticket are available to purchase now on Eventim’s website.

 

AudienceView Acquires TheaterMania and OvationTix

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada – July 11, 2017 – AudienceView, a world leader in e-commerce software for events and entertainment organizations, is pleased to announce the acquisition of TheaterMania, including the OvationTixTM Software as a Service product as well as the TheaterMania.com and WhatsOnStage media brands. As part of AudienceView’s continued investment in its market-leading position providing ticketing, CRM, and fundraising solutions, the acquisition of TheaterMania extends AudienceView’s market reach to more than 2,000 arts and culture, sports, live events and education organizations globally, from the largest entertainment groups in the world to single weekend festival events.

 

“AudienceView and TheaterMania have long shared a common vision and passion to help entertainment organizations build devoted communities and fulfill their missions,” said Gretchen Shugart, formerly CEO of TheaterMania and now President, Arts and Culture of AudienceView. “We are truly thrilled to be aligned with an organization that understands the industry that we serve and has aggressive plans to invest in our products and offerings to drive even more success for our clients.”

 

“The combination of AudienceView and TheaterMania now provides arts and cultural organizations with best-in-class capabilities to control their brand and business operations while tapping into the immense power that effective distribution channels bring,” said Mark Fowlie, CEO of AudienceView.  “This acquisition expands our portfolio to become the ideal destination for organizations of all sizes seeking the best technology, services, and partnerships to drive their businesses forward.”

 

In keeping with the company’s unwavering commitment to customer success, AudienceView is dedicating additional investment to be focused on providing superior client service and support. The first-class OvationTix service and support will continue without change and will benefit from additional support, resources and expertise from AudienceView.

 

Additionally, the company will be bolstering product investment in both the OvationTix and AudienceView platforms and will be building innovative solutions that will be shared across both offerings.  Further, AudienceView’s customers will benefit from the significant audience reach, event listings, and multimedia content provided by TheaterMania.com and WhatsOnStage.

 

“Whether a venue has an audience of 99 or over 100,000, AudienceView is now the most compelling choice for organizations that want to grow their communities through innovative technology, strategic distribution strategies, and a team of experts dedicated to creating and supporting customer success every single day,” adds Mark Fowlie.

 

AudienceView will serve its customers from its Toronto and London offices as well as the New York TheaterMania offices.

 

JEGI served as the exclusive financial advisor to TheaterMania.

 

To learn more about AudienceView’s acquisition of TheaterMania and OvationTix, please visit: http://bit.ly/tm-ot-acquisition.

 

10 Years of Ticketsolve!

There are systems that are relatively new, ones seem to pop-up every few months. Conversely there are suppliers (and systems) that seem to have been around since the age of computerised ticketing. I had always considered Ticketsolve to be one the newest on the block.

On a recent visit to Dublin, I caught up ordertramadol with Paul Fadden about all things ticketing, I must admit to being shocked that Ticketsolve has just turned ten! I remember back in the day when they hit the market with quite a splash. Anyhow, here’s a look back in their eyes on the journey so far, with some fun facts and figures too!

Ticketsolve_infographic

Some Impressive Facts and Figures from 10 Years of Ticketsolve

 

10 years ago the arts industry was in a sort of revival, with Tony Blair renewing the government’s commitment to the arts and culture sector (March 2007 speech). At this same time, in the post dot com bubble, the technology sector was ramping up – fast.

 

But even with that revival (or perhaps because of it), and the rapid rise of technology, there was a sense of frustration within the arts. Why were so many theatres, venues and festivals getting left behind? Technology was moving forward, but arts organisations were being left to deal with unwieldy software systems at best – or no system at all.

 

Into that gap, stepped Ticketsolve. The brainchild of Sean and Brian Hanly, Ticketsolve was one of the first companies to recognise that theatres, venues and festivals needed a reliable ticketing platform, that was also scalable and affordable. Being software guys, they understood quickly that cloud technology (software as a service or SaaS), was the way forward.

 

While today cloud software is everywhere, 10 years ago, that certainly wasn’t the case.

 

“Prior to the proliferation of online software solutions, businesses had to make a huge upfront investments to have locally hosted in-house ticketing solutions.” says, Sean Hanly, CEO of Ticketsolve. With a background in programming and software consultancy Sean had seen the problems with locally hosted solutions first hand.

 

“Maintenance costs were incredibly high, and staff could not carry out remote tasks, set up remote box office kiosks, etc. – it was a massive overhead (and headache). Software-as-a-Service addressed all of these issues – SaaS allows organisations to get professional software at a reasonable cost. There is no costly upfront investment, no additional hardware, and no downtime,” notes Sean.

 

SaaS was a huge advantage for Ticketsolve early on. Adding to that was their collaborative approach to building out the functionality of the software.

 

Paul Fadden, Managing Director, noted, “We have always been customer focused. Today, we continue to listen and work with customers on the direction of the platform. There is no guessing – we talk to customers constantly to understand what their needs are now – and what they need into the future.”

 

This close level of customer collaboration has meant Ticketsolve quickly grew into more than just a ticketing platform – customers now view it as the heart of their organisations.

Today, the Ticketsolve platform helps arts organisations, with CRM, marketing, . . . . . .

 

Ticketsolve Future

This year, Ticketsolve celebrates it’s 10 year anniversary. Today, Ticketsolve is one of the leaders in ticketing in the UK and Ireland, with over 240 customers.

“Our future focus, and close collaboration with customers has led to fantastic growth for the company,” says Paul, “51 customers have joined the Ticketsolve family in the last year alone. As we further develop the platform’s functionality, we anticipate strong and continued growth.”

So what does the future hold for Ticketsolve?

SaaS ticketing platforms now dominate, with 80% of inventory being booked online with up to 60% through smartphones and mobiles.

“We have an obligation to our customers to continually innovate, and strive to make their lives easier.” says, Sean. “To that end, we are focused on engineering a lot of automation tools and integrations into our platform, which we believe will fundamentally change ticketing – and ultimately make our customers busy work lives easier.”

The last 10 years have seen Ticketsolve emerge in the era of SaaS, bringing fresh thinking to arts organisation, to collaborating intimately with customers building a platform that gets beyond ticketing and the box office.

With new system developments, and new customers joining the ever growing community of arts organisations and festivals, Ticketsolve seems to be achieving what it set out to do – bring enterprise level ticketing to the arts community.

 

Getting ‘permission’ wrong?

Roger is not going quietly…

I am not the right person to discuss the implications of the new General Data Protection Regulation, approved by the EU in May 2016, whose draconian penalties apply from May 2018. I have been frustrated by the attitude evidenced by most arts organisations in how they relate to and engage with their attenders, specifically their ticket purchasers, since the 1990s, when email exploded, having learned nothing from the experiences of the direct ‘snail-mail’ years.

I wrote my first book ‘BOXING CLEVER: Turning data into audiences’ in 1993, published by the then Arts Council of Great Britain. Though it pre-dated the use of terms such as ‘Customer Relationship Management’ and ‘Permission Marketing’, it echoed the likes of Don Peppers’ and Martha Rogers’ The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time (also published 1993) and Seth Godin’s later Permission Marketing (1999). It is worth setting out how this is defined. In 2008, Seth re-described it thus:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention”.

Putting respect into arts marketing is a key value for me. The direct marketing revolution experienced in the UK from the 1970s into the 1980s relied on getting people to sign up to receive brochures and mailings, which in the days of mostly on-the-phone and over-the-counter bookings meant dialogue was needed to comply with the law and obtain the contact details from people. People gave permission to receive what they hoped would be relevant, personal, appropriate communications posted to them in their homes. Later, the rising volume of credit card payments meant some venues started to ‘capture’ customer addresses without necessarily explaining the contact implications, and this started (or amplified) customer suspicions about direct mail, especially when many mailings weren’t relevant, personal, or appropriate communications.

This was when I found I thought differently to many other arts administrators. Running Theatr Clwyd in North Wales, for example, I thought it seemed essential to have more than enough staff to answer calls and serve purchasers, and indeed to encourage them to extend their dialogue to understand and inform the customers better, perhaps advising them of other events they might be interested in seeing, booking them a table in our restaurant, etc.; what I later found was called “up-selling”. Essentially, customer contact hopefully got permission to add people to our mailing lists and started to create the relationship we wanted. My colleague Mike Grensted was then very sensitive to what we might send out to those people to reflect that relationship; wonderfully he once sent our subscribers a photocopy of the marked-up printer’s proof of our next season brochure to give them priority to renew their subscription!

the sales staffing culture seemed to be to ensure the minimum number of people were on shift at any one time

Elsewhere the sales staffing culture seemed to be to ensure the minimum number of people were on shift at any one time, with Box Office queues and call waiting times almost a badge of success. When as a consultant after 1988 I started delivering customer care training and helping arts organisations optimise their sales processes, the fundamental issue was always the time to enable staff to serve customers properly. Many venues had the same staffing levels and shift patterns all year round, depleted by holidays as staff took them, regardless of pantomime on-sales, brochure releases, etc. Yet it was easy to work out that an extra member of staff in most cases only had to sell one extra ticket per hour for the venue to be better off (even based on margin retention). Without the extra people, the sales staff were under pressure to speed through transactions, and door sales were a missed opportunity for getting permissions. One large concert hall contracted me to help them optimise their sales process to eliminate 19 seconds from transactions, since that was the average time making sales calls too long for the staff complement to get through their typical call volumes…

That pressure meant Data Protection got in the way of speeding through sales, and managers and sales staff were reluctant to spend time seeking permission from purchasers when their contact details were captured during payment. I proved that an extra person on door sales could easily help process all the customers so permission could be asked if a venue really wanted to. Our sector did not cover itself with glory when a number of Theatrical Management Association (TMA) members decided to lobby their MPs in the Parliamentary discussions about the provisions in the 1998 Data Protection Act. They received somewhat quizzical replies, advised by the then equivalent to today’s Information Commissioner, pointing out that these provisions were already law in the 1984 Data Protection Act; more honoured in the breach than the observance.

Given the embarrassment, it was agreed with the Arts Council of England, the TMA, and the Arts Marketing Association (AMA) that I should write a “good practice” guide to the 1998 Act – actually an official status under the Act – which was published with a Foreword welcoming it from the then equivalent to today’s Information Commissioner, Mrs Elizabeth France, whose staff in Wilmslow had been very helpful and supportive during the drafting process. The Guide was published and promulgated with seminars around the country, encouraged by the Arts Council England regions and the AMA. Of course, given the law, my emphasis was on getting the right permissions from the customers.

arts organisations essentially asking how they could avoid complying with the law

I began to have to field lots of questions about interpreting the new law, and I maintained my dialogue with the staff in Wilmslow. They did point out to me that they received quite a few calls from arts organisations essentially asking how they could avoid complying with the law! The Act clearly and unambiguously required arts organisations to say who they were, what they would be doing with their customers’ data, whom they would be sharing it with, and to get permission from the customer for the chosen communication methods. Treating customers with respect should make this easy.

There were ways to make the process easier – large printed notices on display in Box Offices, recorded messages before calls were answered, full details printed in brochures and programmes, but the key fundamental was that the customer’s permission be obtained properly. Wilmslow told me of various complaints that people were being contacted without their permission, and they and I deployed some ‘mystery shopping’ to understand what was happening – permission was simply not being asked for. The irony of course is that most of these venues now had computerised ticketing systems which could easily track the ‘permission’ levels and identify which staff were complying with the law. One large venue trained up a new team of staff to obtain permission and indeed sell a paid-for list membership, and simply fired the old team members who did not comply. But the culture of selling under pressure persisted, as did non-compliance, and therefore lack of respect for customers. This seemed a matter of regret to me.

Why did/do some people in the arts talk about “bums on seats”

Why did/do some people in the arts talk about “bums on seats” (horribly “butts on seats” in the US) and treat valued customers whose “hearts and minds” they need to relate to, as if them purchasing tickets is a necessary evil, and returning customers are a necessary nuisance, de-personalising them in the process? Does that explain the terrible mistake of introducing booking fees and charges on top of the advertised price, instead of putting these inside the price? Do we see people just as income providers and not as customers we need to persuade and retain?

Note that for most marketing purposes the 1998 Act effectively pre-dates email marketing and on-line ticket sales, though many arts organisations were early adopters of websites. As the email explosion happened, the EU introduced new rules on privacy and the UK enacted in 2003 the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, known to insiders as PECR (pronounced “pecker”). Something odd happened. As computerised ticketing systems had already introduced Internet ticketing engines, they had busily ensured their software complied with the 1998 Data Protection Act, and email was just another communication method. Now PECR had a lot to say about permission regimes for email and SMS, but to my surprise was largely ignored – surprise because it introduced an assumption of consent if there was a transactional relationship i.e. an on-line ticket purchase (with various notifications given to purchasers in the process). Odd and ironic that systems weren’t quickly modified and processes changed to enable this easier permission regime.

Email marketing suddenly made direct marketing an inexpensive method – mostly the time spent crafting the message and selecting the targets from the customer database – and the desire to share customer data for e-marketing campaigns, especially between presenting venues and touring companies and artists increased. By 2005 Arts Council England was unhappy at the frequent complaints from touring companies and artists about venues refusing to share data, and Tim Baker of Baker Richards and I were commissioned to ascertain the state of play. We were clear that the 1998 Act and PECR should be enabling data sharing, provided the appropriate permissions had been obtained. We held the view that purchasers would give permission if they were asked appropriately by venues, and the right respectful dialogue and processes could get those permissions.

Essentially, we quickly confirmed that data was not being shared because the permissions were not being properly obtained, with some venues belatedly discovering that with a stretch PECR could justify them contacting only their own customers. This was an interesting moment, because the Information Commissioner, still being helpful, suggested that arts organisations could jointly notify purchasers that their data would be shared with venue and the touring company or artists performing, and permission be assumed from their ticket purchase (this no longer applies).

Welsh National Opera (WNO), under the enlightened direction of Peter Bellingham, were keen to manage their relationships with their attenders, especially those they realised could be attending in any of a number of venues, chasing their repertoire. They did not want to be over-mailing these people, to manage their communications, and needed to understand their behaviour and frequency, so wanted to know who they were, where they went, what to see – the world of big data! By prolonged negotiations, they secured agreement for the data to be shared and appropriate permission regimes to be in place, at all the venues they toured to. It was somewhat laborious and involved manual interventions but it worked. Why am I telling you this? Because when Arts Council England proposed their data sharing conditions for their National Portfolio Organisations, Peter realised he needed to re-visit their data sharing. Deep analysis by Ed Newsome of the data they had, told them something wasn’t working as it should.

I think we hope that most of the established attenders for the arts are in fact repeat attenders

I think we hope that most of the established attenders for the arts are in fact repeat attenders, so will be coming back to buy more tickets. This ought to mean we want to recognise returning customers on-line as soon as they arrive on the website, so we can serve up tailored content. In practice, most websites are set up not to recognise returning customers until they fill in their details to make payment for a new transaction i.e. at the end of the purchase process. (Some system suppliers boast that their system then adjusts the prices in the shopping cart to reflect their status!). This meant for WNO customers that in most cases the procedure of serving up Data Protection notifications, and asking for permissions where relevant, was repeated every time they booked, at every venue.

When Andrew Thomas of www.TheTicketingInstitute.com investigated, he discovered some systems allowed customers to click past the Data Protection questions (possibly an unintended “feature”), and then the system changed/over-wrote their Data Protection status to effectively a ‘not answered’ status, so no permission recorded for anything. WNO discovered that meant some of their most frequently attending customers, such as their subscribers, were not selected for contact, even for brochure mailings as well as regular email updates. This is when the permission regime and the relationship with the customer is likely to collapse. Some of these customers with high frequency attendance patterns but apparent ‘no permission’ status were phoned, and they made clear that booking for WNO and agreeing to receive communications did not mean being bombarded with (what I call ‘shouting louder’ email) messages about booking for that venues’ pantomime; relevant, personal, appropriate communications?

Unfortunately, not only the customers know that. When ACE, The Audience Agency, and I, met the Information Commissioner’s staff to update our guidance on sharing and the necessary permissions, I was reminded that the staff in Wilmslow are, of course, arts attenders themselves, and able to talk from their own experience about booking with venues. A previous Information Commissioner had served on the board of one Manchester music organisation. Our sector’s unsatisfactory ‘do minimum’ compliance is all too visible. The Information Commissioner’s staff remain very helpful, but perhaps not as friendly as in the past.

How did we ever get here? And why does the General Data Protection Regulation apparently so disturb some people? I go back to first principles, that we need customers to volunteer their permission, freely given, and that is the start of our relationship with them, as a valued customer likely to return; that we need to treat customers with respect, as people in a valued relationship.

We want customers to look forward to our brochures and emails, offering them great going-out opportunities, experiences to enjoy and value. My mantra is ‘stop selling and help people buy’, getting them into a relationship with us.

Mark Hazell at Norwich Theatre Royal has made the point for many years that if they know someone is a “friend” he can write and talk to them differently, because being a “friend” means something about their relationship. That is true for all types of relationship, based on frequency, interests, what is attended, who attends, and so on.   We don’t have to keep asking them for their permission. And ideally we would give them an on-line tool to edit and update their records (less messing about for changes of address or email, chance for self-completed profiles and preferences, and more up-to-date accuracy). We want customers to look forward to our brochures and emails, offering them great going-out opportunities, experiences to enjoy and value. My mantra is ‘stop selling and help people buy’, getting them into a relationship with us.

Now our sector seems to be reducing Box Office hours (while travel agents are re-inventing their High Street stores to “help people buy”) and we are pushing for/hoping for more on-line sales. That means we need to re-think websites, and make them mobile friendly, and understand who we are communicating with. When we email them and they read on their phone or tablet, when they visit our website from those devices, we know precisely who they are – so why aren’t we recognising them and treating them as the valued customers they are? With respect?

Obviously I am the wrong person to talk to about permissions, as I don’t understand our industry.

 

Roger Tomlinson

2 May 2017

If you do want help or advice about the application of the General Data Protection Regulation, I recommend you contact Andrew Thomas andrew@theticketinginstitute.com about system processes and website flows and Leo Sharrock leo.sharrock@theaudienceagency.org about the permissions for data sharing, profiling, research, etc.

“Make Do and Mend” – the right technology strategy?

Wow, where to start. This is a post that has been on my mind for some months. It’s taken a change of tech that I am using to crystallise some thoughts about how to lay this problem out.

I have always used a PC, from back pre windows to 3.11, 95 and on through the numbers. It’s been part of my life for thirty years. There have been some bumps along the way, but I can’t ever say I have been ‘unhappy’ – just not fulfilled.

I can’t ever say I have been ‘unhappy’ – just not fulfilled

Less faithful behaviour is true amongst mobile phones or more recently smartphones, I have had big periods between the three or four main players – well they were at the time. Nokia’s Symbian system was the first really good platform, along came and went BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, iPhone, Windows, Android – you get the picture.

…..spending extra minutes or hours on tasks that should take twenty seconds.

For the last few months, I have been using a Chromebook. Amazing value at under £200 – a 13 hour (real) battery life, super portable and with Internet access almost everywhere – a great piece of kit. The trouble with it is that it fell short in some areas, no REAL word support meant converting docs or when using the online version missing out on some of key, yet more obscure features that are only found in the full versions. I was always spending extra minutes or hours on tasks that should take twenty seconds.

Macs were “too expensive” and I’ve never used them, I am writing this on one now, it’s not THAT bad, but gives me some much loved and missed functionality not present on the Chromebook.

This is not them versus us or mine is better than your tech post, but setting the scene.

To be blunt, I don’t like it. It makes or seems to make my life more difficult,

I am currently in possession of an iPhone for the first time in three years, I say currently as it’s about to go swim with the fishes in a canal sometime soon. To be blunt, I don’t like it. It makes or seems to make my life more difficult, less of a digital assistant and more of a ball and chain.

It’s fun using iMessage and Facetime, it’s pretty good whilst travelling or messaging Internationally . . . . if THEY have an iPhone / Apple product and it has some really good features, for me and perhaps more for other people.

To be clear, Android – has its issues, not so much as an OS but due to the different iterations that exist. So this feature is not on this device but is on that one. That manufacturer has released Version 7, this one has not.

I am ignoring Blackberry and windows as mobile OS ecosystems, as both appear to be an end of life or the equivalent of a distant relative in a care home, out there, but not really visited by many, harsh, but true.

So what do I do? Do I try and continue to find peace and being at one with my little black friend, to make it work, to ignore the things I hate, to carry on missing notifications, to being bounced chrome to safari to goodness knows what.

It took me five minutes to set up my iPhone and an hour for apps to be sync from Android and to go back it will take the same.

We cannot say the same of our ticketing infrastructures, can we? Back in the day some vendors offered monthly contracts, with their sales patter saying “if you don’t like us you can move away” – I always shot this down and perhaps even annual contracts the same – “You don’t change systems that easily – this is not a mobile phone”

So what should make people change or think about changing? End of a fixed term contract? Opening a new facility or as is common this time of year, a boost in revenue from the Panto and the pain that running a show report for 78 performances did to you and your system.

I don’t think these should be at the forefront of decision making. It should be about pain. Pain in the current. The pain of the procurement and implementation and the pain relief of the new system…………but let’s also remember there will be the pain with the new too. I have never seen a project where someone, somewhere in the org did not miss something from the previous system (or the one that pre-dated that.

You need to look at these pain items and work out, how much pain will I be solving? How bad and frequent is the pain, to whom and what is the effect?

Auto-submission of Gift Aid to HMRC is a classic example of this. Once a month, a download in Excel, a small format here or there and then log on and upload the file. How long does it take? How much time will be saved? What value of recouped revenue will you get in excess than with the manual process?

A project last year heard a finance director say of that specific feature “It would be nice, but not a trigger to choose one particular system” – perfect, she got it. However, find 10, 15 or 30 such examples of efficiency and reduction in costs, through multiple suppliers, hosting and automation and you may have something.

We have to make hard choices. This platform may be “Cheap” – we may “make do” but are things EVER going to get better, are they ever going to fix {Insert Bug Here} or integrate with {Really good tool here}.

Spending this week in Benelux countries, I have met some great companies doing cutting edge solution building around ticketing platforms, marketing automation, dynamic differential customer flows or …… just really well written, reliable software at a great price.

If you do one thing this January, sit back and reflect on the pain, look to the future and ask yourself, is this the year I am going to help my business step up and be smart, efficient and forward thinking.

 

 

 

We will be talking about many of these issues around technology strategy at the Ticketing Professionals Conference on the 16th and 17th March in Birmingham. TTI Subscribers can get a 10% discount by using the promo code ‘TTI’ at checkout.

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TopTix Integration Partners

TOPTIX INTRODUCES GLOBAL INTEGRATION PARTNERS PROGRAM
CERTIFIES INGRESSO AND THREE OTHER INTEGRATION PARTNERS WHO DEMONSTRATE INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

London, UK (January 6, 2017)—Karl Vosper, Managing Director of the TopTix UK office announces that Ingresso and three other technology companies have been certified as official SRO integration partners. SRO (Standing Room Only) is an all-in-one web delivered software solution for ticket sales, marketing, and CRM.

Ingresso has created a real-time sales integration with SRO, allowing TopTix customers to sell their ticketing inventory, via Select your Seat, through Ingresso’s vast Global Distribution System with sales channels including Amazon Tickets, Disney Tickets, From the Box-Office and Lastminute.com.

SRO customers have complete control over which tickets are offered through which sales channels, at what time, and at which price / commission structure.

Removing the need for manual allocations, the Ingresso API interconnectivity brings ease of rapid sales channel expansion to reach audiences that may have otherwise been inaccessible.

Mel Dearle, Sales Director of Ingresso said:

“Our technical development team found the TopTix UK team helpful throughout the API integration process—and the SRO system performed. Our first connection was to the English National Opera—and sales via our integrated distribution network rocketed by 650% since connection. The venue controls the price, commissions and access and API ticketing offers truly dynamic pricing opportunities. We look forward to further TopTix venue connections and discussing the support and marketing reach we can offer to the box-office and right’s holders.”

The other three agencies, include:

Catch (UK)
Catch has created a seamless integration between Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) public web interface and SRO. The modern visitor engagement interface enables a unified, responsive end-to-end sales journey for ticketing, events, activities, memberships and more, including upselling and Gift Aid functionality.

Stunn (UK)
Stunn took the online booking processes for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre websites out of iFrames to enable full functionality with the SRO ticketing system. The solution is fully responsive and includes mobile seat selection, upselling and membership recruitment capabilities and is also trackable via dashboard analytics.

Zicht Online (The Netherlands)
Zicht Online developed TicketTrigger as an alternative front end to SRO for online ticketing. TicketTrigger uses the extensive SOAP API of SRO allowing customers to apply custom design, flows and functionality in the ticketing process.

The integration partners program enables best-in-class web and application developers the ability to efficiently extend the capabilities of the SRO platform and provides TopTix clients with a referable list of proven service providers and solutions. Karl Vosper, who initiated the program for TopTix, commented, “We carefully evaluate each partner and project to ensure that every integration is of the highest quality. We seek developers with proven experience in the ticketing and CRM industry who have a deep understanding of client needs and present forward-thinking solutions to our rapidly expanding portfolio of clients.”

Interested clients and prospects may learn more about the development partner program at http://toptix.com/partners/. Vosper concluded, “Our ultimate goal is to give TopTix clients easy access to the most robust features possible to drive their business forward, backed by technology partners carefully selected and supported by TopTix.”

TopTix continues to evaluate technology companies from around the world seeking to join the integration partners program. Program benefits include access to the SRO API, documentation, sample integration code, training hours with the TopTix tech team and a testing environment hosted by TopTix.

About TopTix, Ltd.
TopTix, Ltd (www.TopTix.com) is a privately owned firm founded in 2000 that develops software for ticketing, marketing, CRM, merchandise sales, fundraising, loyalty and access management. Our services and technology allow our clients to sell and manage their own ticket sales, capture valuable patron information and control all aspects of the consumer experience. Our flagship platform, SRO (Standing Room Only), is utilised by sporting organisations, leisure attractions, festivals, exhibitions, stadiums, arenas, theatres, concert halls, museums, visitor attractions, cinemas and ticket agencies across 16 countries processing in excess of 80 million tickets a year.

Galaxy Connect Gains Momentum

GALAXY CONNECT™ GAINS MOMENTUM IN UK MARKET AS VENUES LOOK TO INCREASE TICKET SALES AND ENHANCE THE GUEST EXPERIENCE

London, UK (December 2016)

Attractions and representatives of the travel trade recently gathered at Church House Westminster, London, to discuss ways to broaden awareness and increase ticket sales through the new cloud-based platform, Galaxy Connect. Galaxy Connect allows for easy integration of attraction venues and resellers to sell live tickets to customers.

“Galaxy Connect makes it easier for attractions to partner with distributors and resellers, quickly engaging with customers around the world to increase exposure and ticket sales,” said Andy Povey of Gateway Ticketing Systems. “What’s more, Galaxy Connect is easy to set up with no need for additional training for front of house teams.”

Meeting

Another benefit of Galaxy Connect is immediate admission. “Because sales through Galaxy Connect are live tickets not vouchers, guests can use their smartphones to gain direct access to the venue rather than queuing for the box office,” explains Don Eash, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Gateway Ticketing Systems.

“Galaxy Connect is a massive improvement for distributors. On top of offering more flexibility and real-time access to venues’ ticket systems, it will also create an electronic data trail reducing fraud. We are also looking at new opportunities to generate revenue through the use of mobile app and geolocation,” says Andre Flambard, 365Tickets.

Galaxy Connect main benefits:

  • Enhance the guest experience – guests arrive with a live ticket or e-ticket and can enjoy direct-to-gate admission reducing front-gate lines
  • Enjoy real-time access to venue ticket systems – enabling resellers to sell capacity-managed events while avoiding sellout situations
  • Streamline the reconciliation processes between attraction venues and distributors
  • Save costly IT resource time – connect with any number of online travel agencies and/or attractions with only one integration
  • Eliminate time-consuming voucher process – by selling live tickets, you can save countless hours of manual processing as well as reduce fraud issues

To learn more about Galaxy Connect, visit www.galaxyconnect.com