How are Monad 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 Monad.





Back Ground

Monad supplies its web-based ticketing tools to small and medium sized venues across the UK, based in London, they have a strong focus on usability and smart design.


Their view

Monad have always championed permissions being post checkout, allowing customers to secure their tickets with minimal clicks, maximising conversion.


What we saw

We worked through many examples, seeing the web flow for customers, as well as operator interfaces within the Monad system. (these are actually almost identical to each other). Using a demo system, we also walked through creating new ‘marketing lists’ – which are the mechanism to store permissions in Monad.


Great to see

Monad effectively ‘freezes’ the text around permissions once permissions begin to be collected on that list. So, it is impossible to just change the label that appears to a customer or staff member from “I’m happy to receive show news” to “I’m happy to receive show and fundraising info” – this therefore allows staff to definitely show the exact wording displayed to a customer at time that consent was gained. A new list can of course be created with the new description, all new consents will be stored in that list, the original list is still there and can be used for segmentation. Existing users will be offered the chance to upgrade to the new consent statement on next purchase.



What we didn’t see ……. but is coming

At present it is not possible to see a customer’s audit trail from within the customer record itself – you must look at the log of the list itself to show a customer’s opt in and out. Also, the current system only shows leaving or entering a list, not the channel or staff member who made the change. Ben Curthoys, the CEO, explained that this would be available very shortly. The other feature which is currently missing, but we would hope to see shortly is those around named third party permissions. Monad’s innovative ‘Folders’ way of dividing data, will allow individual or custom questions based on one (or many) factors. Permissions may be driven by promoter, performance space, performance, or membership status.


Transition Services and Issues

There are limited tools within Monad for customers to mass move data into new permissions structures. This is by design as Monad believes mass changes to customer permissions should really never be needed. Monad’s staff will be available to provide technical services should a reformatting or mass move of state


Issue to consider

Venues using Monad will need to consider how they will migrate users to a new third party consent system, particularly their choice of folder structures to trigger these questions. In addition to collecting these permissions, they must also examine their current consent label wording and decide if to begin using new, compliant text (if not already clear and unambiguous) to make sure all new data has been obtained in a compliant manner.


Stand out feature

Monad is one of very few systems who push marketing permissions and preferences to post transaction screens.  This is a major shift in the transaction flow, but one that makes total sense. It allows very clear focus to be placed on ‘closing the sale’ – selling tickets, and then allowing clear and simple layout of permissions without a countdown clock scaring customers to rush through options. This methodology also allows customers to be reminded of their preferences on each transaction without having to dive off into ‘my account’



Monad still have some work to do to tidy up interfaces to allow clients to find exact permission opt-in times and places. Locating the marketing permissions post-transaction is a bold design decision, but it has been in place for many years, and there is no evidence that it has limited sign up. The ability of the company to move items through a streamlined development and deployment cycle helps them and their customers get access to the tools they need.


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



How is SRO by SeatGeek Enterprise 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 SRO by SeatGeek Enterprise



SRO by Seat Geek Enterprise


Back Ground

SRO, or SRO4 until recently, is an enterprise ticketing platform used by a range of entertainment, sports and attraction clients around the World.


Their view

SRO empowers their users through a variety of tools to allow them to configure data collection, customer flows and experience, using their cutting edge ‘Rules Engine’ to shape these experiences.


What we saw

During our session, we examined the online customer experience using the eSRO module (the out-of-the-box) online experience, in addition to this we walked through gaining consent in a face to face transaction using a number of the interfaces that Seat Geek offer, including their intuitive touch screen interface.


Great to see

It sounds old fashioned but we have loved seeing the ‘Ask me later’ feature as part of this process, several systems have it and SRO is in that select group. Even as venues push towards GDPR compliance they must not lose sight of the fact that customers (and staff) are busy people – someone not being asked or not positively giving their consent is not the same thing as them saying ‘NO’. The use of ask me later functionality or even recording that no answer was given allows the question to be foregrounded in a later transaction.

What we didn’t see ……. but is coming

Seat Geek’s large development team have prioritised the delivery of tools to seek what we will describe as ‘basket content specific permissions’. Given that SRO allows an almost unlimited number of levels of permission venues could choose to create a new level for every visiting show or company, however the end user or operator would not be directed to which ones were relevant for the current purchase.

EDIT: We have recently seen a beta version showing this.

Transition Services and Issues

As part of Seat Geek’s commitment to providing a high quality service to their clients, they have embarked on a series of education sessions with all helpdesk staff on both the issues and different basis for processing approaches. With a number of tools to export, import and manipulate data within SRO users may choose to undertake tasks themselves or engage with the helpdesk

SeatGeek Enterprise are also planning training sessions on new tools and ways of working with SRO / GDPR in the new year.


Issue to consider

Currently in SRO there are two levels of permission on a customer record – first ‘XYZ can contact m’ and then communication specific preferences. Putting ourselves in the consumers position, will then realise that if they tick the ‘first’ box that they also need to give the granular permissions for each type of communication?  As businesses, we are aware of our obligations, but I am not sure consumers will be aware of it. It may be necessary to think about online forms are labelled and worded.


Stand out feature

SRO has one of, if not perhaps the, best auditing engine we have seen in any system, certainly as part of this series of reviews. It is in a select few systems that audits EVERY field, recording both the before and after values, along with date and time stamping. What does this add to a venue’s drive towards compliance? Simple, your consent based opt-in says ‘We would like to contact you about upcoming shows’ – people opt it. Someone then changes that phrase to read ‘We would like to contact you about upcoming shows, restaurant offers and send you membership offers’ – people opt in. Which people saw message 1 and which saw message 2 when indicating their consent?  The fact that SRO audits that change, their users are in a select group that could demonstrate the exact message a customer saw when giving consent.



SRO’s powerful database is its key strength in providing tools to achieve GDPR compliance. If relying on consent as a basis for processing, it is vital that where, when, who and whats are all recorded and easy to produce if ever needed. Still some pieces to add to the jigsaw but SRO has the key pieces in place to build on.


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



How is Spektrix 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 Spektrix





Back Ground

With over 312 venues now using Spektrix, it is a widely used system supporting small, medium sized and large venues alike.


Their view

Spektrix are usually front runners in adding functions and features not only to help venues earn more revenue, but help them with their tasks and deliverables, from gift aid submission to HMRC or supporting data sharing agreements between NPOs.


What we saw

During our session, we walked through the buyer journey online as well as in the box office. Spektrix clients can integrate using both the API and iframes. With most of Spektrix’s clients using their iframe integration from the point of seat selection, the online journey is very similar for each of their clients (except, of course, for branding).


Great to see

The Partner Companies feature is a slick and well thought out piece of software. Too many system flows rely on going through ‘My Account’ to update preferences. Spektrix has built in logic to the checkout flow that examines basket contents and checks current permissions set, as well as producers and promoters of the shows in basket to determine questions to ask (if any) .


Through the Partner Companies interface, third parties can log in, via a username and password, to securely collect the contact details for those customers who have said that they are happy to be contacted by the named third party. From this part of the system they can also run any reports that they have been given access to.



Partner Company contact preferences in the Sales interface:


The customer audit gives the ability to go deep into the audit trail and see clear individual fields changes.


The customer audit:



Spektrix plans to make add the ability to erase all of the data in the customer audit if required.


Transition Services and Issues

Being a ‘full service’ offering Spektrix customers enjoy a range of support services and consultancy advice as part of their monthly service charge. The Spektrix support and consultancy team will be on hand to help configure new features such as partner companies as well as train staff on how to effectively deploy them.


Support and training consultants are on hand to work with each client on developing a bespoke strategy to gain and/or maintain the ability to contact their customers. They will consider the condition of current consent documentation and the client’s own approach to consent and legitimate interest before giving their advice.


Issue to consider

If venues are using consent as a basis for processing data under GDPR they will need to be able to prove where and when consent was gained, along with wording the customer saw and the action they performed to give the consent.  When customers migrated to Spektrix, (as with many other systems) the data permissions settings were brought across, but NOT these time and channel stamps. In addition to historical data, consents gained before the introduction of the new audit tools will not be complete. Whereas it is unlikely that this will present huge issues for venues, it may be worth documenting or possibly re-consenting / reminding customers of their right to opt out of marketing communication


Stand out feature

Even though we have already covered in ‘Great to See’ – the partner companies feature is the clear jewel in the offering. By wrapping a number of tools into an easily configurable (and free!) module / feature set – Spektrix have given venues a clear focus for managing third party consent and data sharing, as well as the ability to share this data securely.



As with all the systems reviewed in this series, Spektrix still has some work to do. However, they have already delivered some very smart tools, that are well thought out and help venues present and collect permissions in a clear and understandable way.


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






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





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.



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



Chiefs Select Secutix





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.


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 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 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:


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!


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 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 about system processes and website flows and Leo Sharrock about the permissions for data sharing, profiling, research, etc.