Customer Support Team is Growing: Welcome Helen!

This week, we welcome Helen to the Ticketsolve team. Helen holds an MA in Culture Policy and Arts Management, and has amazing experience working in theatres, venues and festivals across Ireland and Europe. She is joining Ticketsolve on the Customer Support side and will be primarily working with Fáilte Ireland and over 100 Irish tourist attractions.

We are extremely lucky to have Helen on board as she brings a wealth of box office experience to Ticketsolve, having previously worked at the National Concert Hall, Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, and Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Besides her experience managing box offices, Helen has worked in event and project management for festivals such as the Drogheda Arts Festival, Macnas, Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures and venues such as THEATREclub, Talking Shop Ensemble among others.

As Helen said, “As a box office manager I have worked with a lot of ticketing and box office software through the years. Having worked with the Ticketsolve software previously, I am excited to help others get the most out of Ticketsolve – and really boost their businesses.

Keep a look out for Helen and be sure to say if you get a chance!

The Ticketsolvers Team is Growing: Welcome Nick!

We are super excited this week, because we are welcoming another great addition to the Ticketsolve team: Nick Stevenson!

Nick came to the arts world through a familiar story: starving student. During his student days, he was lucky enough to get a part time job at Carmarthenshire Theatres, which lead him to his passion for arts and the theatre industry. His part time work, went on to full time, where Nick has done every theatre job possible from cutting tickets to box office manager, marketing manager to programming coordinator and business development manager. Nick has even helped back stage (he only crossed to the dark side occasionally).

Nick went back to university earning a MSc in Leadership and Management. Most recently, Nick held the position of Senior Business, Marketing and Programme Coordinator for Carmarthenshire Theatres. In this role, Nick was instrumental in getting their new £15 million flagship venue, the Ffwrnes, to where it is today.

Nick’s thoughts on joining us? “I can’t wait to hit the ground running with Ticketsolve. I feel I know what venues want from every aspect of their box office system. My ambition is to get Ticketsolve to the market leader within the UK and Ireland, and possibly one day we could take over the world (cue evil villian laugh: mwahahahaha).”

As you can see, Nick is an arts guy through and through, we are delighted to have Nick bring his experience of marketing and venue and event management, to the Ticketsolve team.

You will likely get a call or visit from Nick shortly – and don’t forget to ask him to about Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. He is the only one on the Ticketsolvers team that can pronounce that Welsh place name – being a Welsh speaker we should expect that!

If you would like to say “croeso” or welcome Nick to the team please get in touch with him!

Using Data to Welcome Back Lapsed Customers and Increase Customer Retention

While growing and finding new audiences is at the forefront for arts marketers, so too is keeping the audiences you have. Loyal customers account for only 20% of total customers, but are drivers for 80% of revenue – and customer retention is certainly less expensive than bringing on new customers. With that in mind, we look at how Ticketsolve can help you identify lapsed customers and welcome them back.

Customer loyalty and retention is a hot topic regardless of industry. But for arts, festivals and theatres, where funding it is getting squeezed day by day – it is critical to retain customers as much as possible. There are two strands to retention in this sense – how do we keep customers coming back in the first place and how to we draw back lapsed customers?

Keep Customers Coming Back for More

In order to keep customers coming back, we need to create targeted, behaviour driven campaigns that attract them. That is, post purchase messages that drive conversions.

If you use Ticketsolve, then you know you the system helps to collect vital patron data that you can use to create targeted post purchase campaigns. Ticketsolve is integrated with MailChimp, which means all campaigns can be tracked, from opens to click throughs to purchase, so you can see how your post purchase campaigns are doing.

Ideally your ticketing system should let you create these retention points earlier – and then carry through to post purchase. So for example, within Ticketsolve, features such as recommendations and cross selling allow you to offer show recommendations based on the purchase, or add ons such as drinks or meals.

These sorts of smart features are no longer a nice to have. Patrons have begun to expect these recommendations and appreciate the idea that you are offering suggestions they may be interested in.

Still, even with the best recommendations in the world, some customers will lapse. Using data, we can look at re-engaging these customers.

Purchase Frequency

First, we need to determine what the average time is between purchases. Now this may be tricky depending on the buying patterns of your patrons. Do they tend to buy for the season or do they buy more ad hoc? Do you see a spike in purchasing right after a show – for other shows? Average purchase frequency can give you a sense of when a customer is “lapsed”. So if it is 11 months between purchases for your patrons, those who fall outside of these parameters can get a targeted message.

You may want to also consider splitting the groups here further. Repeat customers may have a shorter time frame between purchases, than new customers Are there any repeat customers who then become lapsed?

In this way you can now determine, with data, specific times to send messages.

RFM Analysis

Now what about recency, frequency and monetary analysis of customers? This is really interesting information to understand total number of purchases and the total lifetime purchases per customer. This gives an even deeper view into lapsed customers and their behaviours. Perhaps you have customers who buy infrequently, but buy a lot – they are not necessarily lapsed, but just purchase differently. Still other patrons bought a lot once, but haven’t bought since. Each of these types of patrons can be identified and targeted with a system like Ticketsolve.

Ticketsolve can help you identify lapsed customers, and then using integrated MailChimp, you can create campaigns to win back these lapsed customers.

What Messages to Use?

While even a simple, “We’ve Missed You” campaign is useful, using other data such as previous purchase history or timing can let you target your message more effectively. Current recommendations based on previous purchases or perhaps discounts or even complimentary items are excellent ways to welcome back lapsed customers.

While this is only one strand to customer retention and lapsed customers, using data to create targeted campaigns and segmenting your lapsed customers can help you zero in on those customers with targeted messages and campaigns.

Do you use Ticketsolve to target lapsed customers? Do you want to learn more about how we can help you increase customer retention? Contact us!

Don’t forget to check back, we’ll have a video showing you how this is done within Ticketsolve.


Helping Patrons: Where’s My Confirmation?

So not long ago I was trying to make a purchase online. It was a wedding present for a friend, so it was not only expensive – I really needed to get it right (don’t judge me, but the wedding was a month ago). But something was going very wrong with my order. I must have inputted my details at least 10 times before I finally gave up.

The thing is, I was pretty persistent. Most people would have given up after maybe two tries. But it drove home the point to me that Ticketsolve’s front end works flawlessly. If it didn’t, our customers would be losing patrons quickly.

The booking errors that do happen are not in Ticketsolve’s control. Typically they are in the patrons control. So what are the most common booking problems, and how you can help your patrons if things go pear shaped?

Confirmation email is in their spam folder

This is probably the number 1 “error” for patrons. They’ve booked, but do not have a confirmation email. The first place to check is the spam folder or the social folder. Typically this is where confirmation emails end up – if not in the inbox.

Email entered incorrectly

Another problem, though it doesn’t happen often, is that the confirmation email has been entered incorrectly. If this happens, ensuring the patron has their reference number is important.

Order or booking reference

We all do this. You buy something online, and there on the page it says “be sure to note down your booking number”. And what do most people do? Promptly shut the window noting nothing down. Order or booking reference numbers are unique to each order. Noting it down means if there is an issue – like for example the tickets have been booked for the wrong day – finding and rectifying the error is easy. Without the booking order, finding an order can be tricky. It can be done of course, but it can take time.

Check the order

So before finalising an order, encourage your patrons to check their orders for the correct show, date, time and seats. They should ensure their email is correct and they should fill in the contact details fully. And once the order is complete? Note down that booking reference!



Create Memorable Patron Experiences

You’ve probably read about the growth of the experience economy in business circles. That is, the notion that you can sell an experience alongside a product.

Of course this is exactly what theatre, tourism attractions, ice venues, sports arenas and the like have provided for years – an experience. But there is an important distinction here of selling an experience, versus selling a memorable experience. You can probably already guess that a memorable experience is the better one, as it creates loyalty and repeat customers.

Creating memorable experiences comes down customer experience management. Experience management goes right from awareness, to attraction to interaction, purchase, and post purchase retention.

Creating memorable experience for customers isn’t just about seeing a great show, a wonderful tourist attraction or attending a great sporting event, it is about the whole package: from when a customer first thinks “I want to . . . ” to searching, to finding your website, sharing that website perhaps, calling or booking tickets, receiving those tickets and on and on.  A truly memorable experience is one where even those things such as transportation to the event which may be out of your control, contribute to the overall feeling and memory of the event itself.

And here is the thing, bad memories get shared more than good ones. So what do you do? How do you create powerful, memorable patron experiences?

Get the basics right.

Go through the entire thought process and purchasing process for your customer. Get out a magnifying glass, where are the holes, where can you improve? Maybe you need a to look at responsive design for your website because many of your customers use their mobiles, etc. Take a look at the big picture and see where you can improve.

To be fair, you probably do a lot of the big things spot on. It is in fact the little things that can push positive experiences for you patrons.

Be attentive.

There is an example from Danny Meyer, famed American restaurateur. If any of his staff hear, even in passing, that a guest is having a birthday, the manager comes over to the table to specifically say happy birthday to the guest, on behalf of Danny. This is a brilliant way of showing customers they are valued and adding to a memorable experience. Picking up on subtle small details about customers and acting on them makes all the difference.


Addressing your patrons by name when they arrive to collect tickets is another example of focusing on the details. Again the little things add up to the overall  experience to the customer. A warm and friendly, “Hello, Mr. Fadden I have your tickets right here, and I see you have ordered the gluten-free, vegan meal as well – excellent choice.” The small details make your customer feel special – and that matters.


Do you have a lot of older patrons who might appreciate some extra help getting to their seats? Do you provide boosters for your younger patrons? Again all of these little things add to a memorable experience that drives more future sales.

Show your appreciation.

Pre-sales, discounts, special vouchers and the like all give you an opportunity to show your appreciation to your customer. Is there anything else you can do to show your customers your appreciation? Anything unique or unexpected?

Delighting your customers and giving them a memorable experience isn’t just one thing, but a series of little things that focus on the details. If you can make it unusual and unexpected, it will keep customers coming back again and again.

Do you have a memorable experience to share? How do you create memorable experiences for your customers?


Need Auto Onsale Functionality?

Onsales can be a stressful time. We know, we stand (okay virtually “stand”) alongside, our customers during every onsale. Regardless of the time or day, we watch closely to make sure everything is a success for our customers.

Still, there is a lot to when an onsale is approaching. For example, if you wanted a given event (say, your onsale) to appear in the listing and be available for booking, you have to do it by manually updating this event.

There are some advantages to this of course, as it allows you to be in full control of the timing. But a lot of our customers told us that, what would be really helpful is a sort of “set it and forget it” function. Thus, was born the Auto Onsale.  Now you can create a specific onsale date and time – and well – set it and forget it.

Great! So how do you set up an Auto Onsale?
  1. Go to the desired event settings page.
  2. Search for “Onsale_Time” setting.
  3. Pick a date and time for the event to be available and click “Save”.
  4. Wait for the magic to happen.


When the given date and time comes, your event will be listed and enabled for booking. No other settings will be updated automatically. The Auto Onsale is an added extra, so if you prefer to continue to manually enable your events you can.

That’s it! We hope it takes some of the stress out of onsale day!

Need help setting up your Auto Onsale? Give us a shout we’ll be happy to help you.

*Note that the timezone used for this is GMT (UK and Ireland). If, for any reason, you are using the application from a different timezone, remember to convert it first.

Donations Opt-in not Opt-out – are you compliant?

On the 13th of June 2014, new Consumer Contracts Regulations in the UK will come into force. Your arts organisation needs to be compliant with the new donations regulations.

For the arts and festival industry, at issue, is the opt-in versus opt-out for voluntary donations at ticket purchase check-out.

Opt-in versus Opt-out

Opt-in versus opt-out means that the customer must actively consent to the payment. For example, in the case of ticketing, a pre-ticked box (during the check out process) adding a donation to a theatre or a venue will no longer be allowed. The customer must actively “click a box” to opt-in for the donation.

The Challenge for Arts Organisations

This change will have an impact on arts organisations, when you consider the psychology of giving. Defaults are typically left as is in the check out process so an opt-out donation box, especially for a “low” amount such as £1 or 50p, generates quite a bit of income. Opting in will likely generate less.

What Can You Do?

Definitely consider how to message and position the donation. Creating a strong motivation and (suggested giving amount) can help keep donations steady. One example, is to state the goal clearly : “We would like to raise £1,000 this year and with your help we can! Just £1 from you is all it takes.”

How Does Ticketsolve Support this Change?

Ticketsolve’s donation feature takes patrons through to separate donations page during check out. Here is how it works – in a simple example:

  1. Patrons add tickets to their basket.
  2. Once they click “buy now” they are taken to their cart.
  3. Their cart will show the their line item purchases.
  4. One item is “donations” which is set at “free” or “zero” (see below on how to do this).
  5. When they click “proceed to checkout” they will be taken to a donations page where they can set the donation amount – if they wish – and continue with the check out process.

If you use the auto donate feature in Ticketsolve, here is what you need to change in order to be compliant.

  1. Change the “price” field to 0
  2. In the “donation prices” box enter 0 as the lowest price, separating from other prices with a comma.
  3. Change the value for the auto tag to 0, e.g., “auto:0”

If you don’t currently use the donation feature, but would like to set it up contact support and we can get you started.

Do you use the auto donate feature? How has it worked for you?


How to Use Facebook’s “Lookalike” Audiences

I was having a look around to see what new (or old) ideas pop up for Facebook marketing, and saw this article from Sold Out Run, that discussed the use of lookalike audiences within Facebook to reach new audiences.

The idea is that, Facebook is great for marketing and advertising your shows or events, but you can end up talking to the same captive audience that has bought from you before. Facebook allows you to extend your reach by creating “lookalike” audiences. That is, audiences that look like ones you are after.

For example, say you want to advertise a new comedy club event. Using Facebook’s lookalike feature, you could upload your existing data of previous comedy club event ticket buyers (email address is sufficient). Facebook can then generate a “lookalike” audience that has not previously bought comedy club tickets from you, but has some of the same characteristics as those that have bought tickets. You can then created a targeted Facebook ad campaign for that lookalike audience.

A little 1984ish I’ll grant you, but this is a great way to extend your reach. Keep in mind you don’t get the lookalike emails, you only get to create an ad that targets them. I’ll admit it might be hit or miss, but might be worth a small budget and trial to see if it works.

The critical piece here is that you have to capture the correct data, and that can easily upload that data in to Facebook to create your lookalike audience.

You could trial a lookalike audience with Ticketsolve data. Ticketsolve collects valuable customer data and buying information. Below is a step-by-step you can use to create a .csv file that you can upload into Facebook to create a lookalike audience.

  1. Create a line item facts view report in your reports.
  2.  Use  “events of category” filter to select a whole category, or “saw shows” to select a specific show, then save the report.
  3. Go to the downloads tab, click the customers option and then click the select “none” option.
  4. From the contact folder select first name, last name and email.
  5. Click the download button.

Have you tried the Facebook lookalike audience feature? How did it work for you?

How We Have Improved Searching Within Ticketsolve

Searching is critical for ticketing sales. We have undertaken to improve our search capabilities with Ticketsolve, and have recently deployed Elasticsearch. Elasticsearch, will improve the searchability of shows for both patrons and back-end users of Ticketsolve.

We want to take a minute to explain what it is how it is going to improve searches in the system.

First, we need to take a step back and explain a little about data storage and ticketing.

Data can be stored in several forms. How it gets stored depends on the type of work the user need to be perform. So for example, there may be data that you store that needs to be accessed frequently, data that needs to be accessed as a once off and data that needs to be accessed once in a while.

In addition to this, some data needs to be search very precisely and specifically, while other data may be searched very generally, to have a broad view.

So there is a lot at play when it comes to storing and accessing the data required, and how search terms are used.

Previously, Ticketsolve used MySQL for storing and searching the show data. While MySQL has many advanced functionalities, we felt we needed to improve textual searches.

We have chosen Elasticsearch, which is a flexible and powerful open sourced, distributed, real-time search and analytics engine for the cloud.

Elasticsearch will give the Ticketsolve community and their patrons several improvements:

    • Faster searches
    • More flexible searches: For example, a search may be adjusted to use a generic term, say ‘book’, to return a broad result, like ‘book’, ‘books’, ‘bookkeeper’ and so on.
    • Leaner and faster internal operations: extending the data structure, for example to improve a certain search, is going to be faster and easier.
    • Search results will now show the matching title first, rather than the generic ordering that was done previously.
    • Extending Elasticsearch to also give a higher score to, say, tags, is going to be a simpler operation now.

We have deployed Elasticsearch for shows at the moment. We would love to hear if you have have seen any improvements with the new search for shows. Let us know!

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