Spektrix, in our words

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Spektrix is a partner of The Ticketing Institute and matches their system capabilities against the Functionality Builder to achieve a good score.  Their charging mechanism can make them expensive over a few years, but there is no doubting that their solution is attractive.

Developed originally by Michael Nabarro when at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge (a mostly amateur student venue), where they had been using Blackbaud’s Patron Edge, it has been enthusiastically developing, at great speed, a very promising solution, and has already achieved over 150 users, and opened an office in New York as it moves into the US.

Michael’s team is re-inventing how the ticketing system should look and work, and screen innovations such as the sliding panels make large areas of functionality readily accessible to operators during transactions.  Spektrix has been concentrating on the sales front-end and the many deals, sales promotions and offers required for the London marketplace where the Royal Court, Bush Theatre and Hampstead Theatre were early adopters.  Now it has a commercial West End theatre signed up too, so it has useful tools for developing sales through offers, and marketing functionality close to competitors, with new functionality being added, and a clear development road map with an ear to what their users want.

On-line ticket sales are a key decider for some users and Spektrix has optimised the transaction process for seats off the plan to provide a seamless sales process.  The decision to use i-frames for the web brings flexibility to implementing web sales integration into your website, and achieving an effective solution; if you want to go further there is a full API and the ADC Theatre already has a mobile friendly version for ticket sales on smart phones.  Having persuaded many Blackbaud users to migrate to Spektrix from Patron Edge, Spektrix also developed a ‘fund-raising module’ which they hope competes with Raiser’s Edge, charged out per user per month.

Based in Farringdon in London, Spektrix is a “Software as a Service” supplier, with their software “in the cloud” hosted by them in a high-spec secure data centre.  Sales terminals access the system via the Internet.  The arguments in favour of this are essentially that someone else takes care of all the issues of providing, hosting, backing-up and maintaining the hardware and software, 24/7/365, including all the issues of data security, PCI DSS compliance, servicing, upgrades, maintenance, etc.  You just supply the terminals and an Internet connection – no local software to install.  Spektrix claims a 99.9935% uptime record.  You will be certain your system is using the latest version, is properly backed-up, and the telecommunications are continuously monitored.  That is where I take a cautious view, since so much depends on the quality, speed, and reliability of your Internet connection.

Fairly obviously, if you are in an area with an excellent  broadband connection, with an alternative backbone available (cable, satellite or 3G dongle), then software “in the cloud” could be an ideal solution for you. For some users it appears to provide re-assurance that the technology is not their worry.  It does mean that you are one of many tenants sharing their single system and their support tweets show that if one user is having problems, everyone will be having problems, but actually Spektrix has only one problem to fix.

Their charging ethos, similar to others on the SaaS model, is to “share in your success” and they therefore charge a “pay-as-you-go” percentage commission on the value of sales, typically an all inclusive 2-3%, though this rises for an organisation with very low ticket sales values and falls for very high ticket turnover.  There is also a minimum monthly charge.  The minimum contract period is for a year; this makes it easy to change to Spektrix.

However, I have long wanted them to re-think their pricing.  While a percentage commission gives a “no up-front costs” option to change their system to many venues, the sting is in the long tail.  Even a small percentage makes significant repeating sums.  I have seen venues surprised that what they perceive as a low-cost system at first is equalling the major, supposedly high cost, systems after three years.  Year on year, they eventually become more expensive than the systems sold based on license fees, though someone else taking care of the servers, the software and the Internet sales connections, setting up seating plans, etc. seems to re-assure many venues and obviously brings clear benefits.

Spektrix say their system brings many advantages over their users previous systems, but those advantages from having an up-to-date system are also available elsewhere, though I acknowledge that Spektrix includes in their price all the external hosting, servicing and maintenance costs.  It seems to me that there is a clear choice for users to make here and only cost-benefit analysis for each venue can properly inform that choice.  Keep watching – you should like what you see.

Contact Spektrix at hello@spektrix.com