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)