Understanding GDPR and the Arts

From 25 May 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect. In the UK, GDPR will replace the UK’s current data protection regulation, DPA, and although this is an EU regulation, UK organisations will still need to comply. With less than a year to get ready, this post will take a look at what changes you may need to implement to get ready for GDPR.

Over the years the amount of data companies and organisations collect from customers and Internet users has become staggering. There are very few services, products or sites that do not collect some amount of data from their visitors. Combine this with the advent of wearable technologies that collect data constantly, and it becomes clear why data protection has become incredibly important to regulators, customers and organisation alike.

What is GDPR?

GDPR will replace the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive, and will apply to all organisations in the UK, Ireland and across the EU. The GDPR emphasises transparency, security and accountability by data controllers, while at the same time standardising, and strengthening the right of European citizens to data privacy.

At it’s core GDPR is about explicit consent

The significant change that GDPR brings is threefold:

  1. Customers must give explicit consent to data gathering.
  2. Data protection authorities will have more robust powers to tackle non-compliance, including significant administrative fining capabilities of up to €20,000,000 (or 4% of total annual global turnover, whichever is greater) for the most serious infringements.
  3. It will be considerably easier for individuals to bring private claims against data controllers when their data privacy has been infringed, and allows lawsuits for compensation even in cases of non-material damage.

What Do Arts Organisations Need to Do to Comply with GDPR?

Build awareness about the change and what GDPR will mean for your organisation, especially the tougher penalties.

Make an inventory of the personal data you hold and how it is managed.  Consider:

– Why are you holding it?

– How did you obtain it?

– Why was it originally gathered?

– How long will you retain it?

– How secure is it, both in terms of encryption and accessibility?

– Do you ever share it with third parties and on what basis might you do so?

Create a plan for any changes that you need to make in your current process. Under GDPR individuals will be able to request an audit of the information you hold on them, so you will need a clear plan in place to deal with such requests and other GDPR requirements. Your plan needs to include:

  1. Who will be responsible for handling GDPR requests?  Remember requests must be processed within one month, and must be free of charge to the individual making the request. Individuals have the right to access their data, have inaccuracies corrected, have their information erased and object to direct marketing.
  2. What are your procedures for detecting, reporting and investigating a data breech? Who will be responsible? Remember that all breaches must be reported to the DPC or UK equivalent, typically within 72 hours, unless the data was anonymised or encrypted.
  3. How is customer consent currently being managed? How do you currently seek, obtain and record consent? What changes do you need to make to this process? Remember under GDPR consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. That means they must be completely aware that they are consenting to the processing of their personal data, and know exactly what they are consenting to – there can be no doubt. Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity is not consent.
  4. What information do you give individuals prior to processing data? Remember before gathering data, you need to let people know: the legal basis for processing the data, how long you will retain their data, and their right to complaint. And you must communicate all of this in easy to understand language not legalese.

GDPR and Brexit

If you process data about individuals in the context of selling goods or services to citizens in other EU countries then you will need to comply with the GDPR, irrespective as to whether or not the UK retains the GDPR post-Brexit.

The UK Government has indicated it will implement an equivalent or alternative legal mechanism. It is expected that any such legislation will largely follow the GDPR. This is supported by the support previously provided to the GDPR by the ICO and UK Government as an effective privacy standard, together with the fact that the GDPR provides a clear baseline against which UK business can seek continued access to the EU digital market.

In Summary

GDPR will become effective in May 2018. In preparation, your organisation should do a data protection audit and develop a plan for change where necessary. Remember:

  • Consent is required to be freely given
  • Requires positive indication of agreement
  • Customer has the right to be forgotten

As new information becomes available we will of course provide updates, but keep in mind compliance with GDPR is the responsibility of the individual organisation.

Please contact us if you have further questions, we are happy to offer guidance and assistance.

Content Marketing: Creating a Message Map

How do you create a consistent message for multiple customer personas? What about other people you may need to communicate with? Press, affiliates, partners, suppliers, etc.? What about the need to create content for a variety of social media channels and formats?

Consistent messaging is at the core of good content marketing, but with multiple targets, it can be difficult to stay on message. We are going to look at how you can create a one page message map that the whole team can use to create consistent messaging across a variety of targets and channels.

Why a message map?

Consistency with multiple messages

When you are using multiple channels for your message, it can easily get watered down or lost entirely. Twitter content is different than content for your newsletter or Facebook. A message map ensures that all your salient points will get across regardless of the channel you need to use.

Consistency with multiple authors

Another good reason to use a message map is so that no matter which team member needs to create content, it will always have a consistent voice.

Consistency with facts and clarity in message

A message map is really about distilling your message into its central point. It also allows you to support your message with concrete facts. The combination of this means you can really get to the heart of your message for all your target audiences.

What does a message map consist of?

A message consists of a “home base,” which is your central message. “Positive Points” extend from the home base with the proof points and support for your central message.

Home Base

This is your central message. It needs to answer “what’s in it for me,” for all your target personas. This is the overarching idea you want to get across.

Positive Points

These are the the supporting points for your main message. You should have no more than four positive points to support your central message.

Proof Points

These are the next level out and provide concrete evidence to the positive points. These proof points will be granular and specific and can contain stats and facts or quotes etc. The key here is that the proof points are a logical support to the positive points above them.

Take a look at an example of a blank message map below.

As you can see, everything branches from and supports the central idea. That central idea is something all your personas (including any partners, press etc.) would be interested in and care about.

Below, we’ve filled in the message map with information from a fictitious family music and arts festival:

This one is very basic, but as you see, you can add as much detail as you want to the proof points. The key here is that all the main points are in one place.

But what about multiple personas?

Targeted messaging is a must, and this is where a message map really comes into its own. Rather than multiple maps or multiple messaging docs, you can create one message map for all your personas.

If you think about, messages for each persona are going to overlap. What matters to one persona will matter to another, but not everything will overlap. Within the message map, you can colour code each message that maps to each persona. Overlaps and differences in messages can be easily seen and tracked.


In our festival case above, you might consider parent personas, as well as teens and maybe even couples. While couples may not be interested in the kids activities, they would be interested in the cheap tickets, good parking, nice camping etc. By colour coding you can keep all your messaging in one place and have consistency across personas.

The idea here is to have one central message, but with many angles that are all linked. This allows you to create incredibly consistent and powerful messages for your all your customers.

So how do you get started?

One piece of advice here is to get your team together, and have each person create a message map on their own. This will quickly give you a view into how consistent your message is within the team. Plus this gives you a great starting point for creating the message map you will all use. Having your whole team involved in the process will ensure consistency, clarity and buy in.

Message maps can be used for marketing shows, membership drives, donation activities and even interviews. So they are a great tool in your marketing arsenal.

And remember to come back to refresh your map(s) . . . things change.

Why not give it a shot and see how you go? If you are interested in more specific help – let us know!

How to Create a One Page Marketing Plan

We talk a lot about digital marketing and marketing in general on our blog. There is a lot of talk at the moment about one page marketing plans, so this week, we wanted to take a step back, and look at how you can create an effective one page marketing action plan to help keep your team on track.

Why A One Page Plan?

The idea behind a one page marketing plan is to create something that has laser beam focus. Traditional marketing plans tend to be a wieldy, and while very important, they can often be difficult to use in a practical sense. A one page plan has the advantage of forcing you to think about exactly what you need. It strips away the nonessentials – it gives you a working  marketing plan.

So, let’s dive straight into our one pager:

Mission and objectives: (1-2 lines) This needs to be as specific as possible. So rather than simply stating: we want to focus on audience development, try and put a number on it. “We want to increase our south eastern regional audience by 20% in the next 8 months.” You may have several objectives, which is fine, but keeping them quantified and tightly defined will keep you and your team focused as you get to work on your marketing.

Customers: (1-2 paragraph) This is where you define your main customer persona. You can have a few of these if it is warranted. Be sure to make these as detailed as possible, and also to include a little bit about how they find you. You will need to include any new customers you plan on targeting as well.

Budget: (3-4 lines) Budget details here should show where the splits in the budget will be, e.g., offline versus online etc. Don’t worry about getting overly specific here, this section is really all about getting an overall picture of what you have to work with. This can also be refined as you learn and change your plan as you execute.

Routes to Market (digital/inbound and outbound): This is potentially your largest section, but again specifics here are necessary so you can track success. Consider previous years data on what has worked and what has not, and don’t forget to include a few experiments to try to keep your marketing game pushing forward.

Specific tactics: This should include any specific incentives or other programmes you intend to implement. This is a great chance to really think outside of the box. What kind of promotions might you consider? What are some affiliate programmes you could implement?

Content creation:  Whether inbound or outbound marketing is your focus, you will need to produce content, and of course traditional collateral. Consider what you have already, and what you need to get produce to support your marketing initiatives. Here is where you need to outline your key messages.

Metrics, Measuring and Analysis: Here, you want to outline specifically how your marketing will be measured and tracked. It is a good idea to define exactly how often you will review information, so that you can create a heartbeat of measurement and analysis of your marketing activities.

Those are the basics. If you really wanted to, you could slim this down even further to just focus on:

  • What are my objectives (really)?
  • Who are my customers?
  • What are my messages?
  • What avenues will I use to reach them?
  • How will I measure my success?

With these you can add more detail with added customer personas and a map of the customer journey. These plus a content calendar and a message map (i.e., what are the core messages you will be focused on) would get you nearly all the way to a go to marketing plan that is easy for your team to take in and execute.

Keep in mind, the idea of a one page marketing plan is to help you and your team focus and give you a usable document to work against. It is also not necessary for the one page plan to focus on a whole year – it could be shorter if that is what works best for your team.

In short, if it isn’t going to help your team – don’t do it. If it does help you get some clarity on where you efforts need to focus – then go for it!

If you are interested in seeing some sample one page marketing plans, give us a shout! We’d be happy to share a few with you. Happy planning!

Customer Experience is Everything

Customer experience is becoming the biggest differentiator in a sea of choices for customers.

Customers go to shows for a variety of reasons. Maybe it is that particular play or production, maybe it is a gift, maybe it is a family day out, or maybe it is a yearly event for them. Regular patrons will have other reasons for attending as well. Why they attend is certainly important; it helps to frame your marketing and promotion. However, their experience for the whole of the customer journey can be a big differentiator.

Take for example, Pantos. For many families, Pantos are a yearly tradition. For many families it isn’t necessarily whether the Panto is about Cinderella or Snow White – it is the simple fact of attending a show that matters.

Or what about festivals? There are so many festivals to choose from, how do customers decide which ones to attend given their “yearly festival budget”

So how can you differentiate in these cases?

Customer Experience as Differentiator

Marketers are predicting that the real differentiator will come in the form of customer experiences. And that is not just at the given show – but that differentiation comes long before your customers set foot in your venue.

So what are some experience differentiators? Let’s start with marketing. How do you use social media and other marketing channels? How do you engage customers on them? What is your voice? Are you constantly trying to sell to them or are you giving them something they are interested in? These can all be differentiators.

What about your site? Is it user centred? Can they get to information quickly and easily? What is the purchasing experience like? How many steps does it take to get to finish a sale? How secure does it feel to your customers (not how secure it is, but rather what they perceive it to be)?

Stepping through each of these steps will give you a sense of how you can maybe look for points of differentiation or making things easier for your customers.

Mobile First Strategy

More and more mobile purchases are becoming the norm. Optimising for this ensures a good customer experience. In addition, consider the use of mobile apps to help the customer experience. This can run from the simple to the complex, but can provide a great experience for customers and a great way to connect. For festivals this is a no brainer: festival schedule, maps, safety info etc., can all be easily accessed on mobile apps.

Better Use of Technology for Customer Service

There is no denying that customers like talking to a human. But they also want answers fast. Newish technologies such as Intercom and the like make it easier (and faster) to address customer issues. These are absolutely no replacement for actual humans, but it is far better to offer your customers more options for customer service than less.

Balance Between Online and Offline

So a caveat. Technology can help you improve your customers’ experiences for sure. But there is a balancing act here. On the one hand customers want convenience and a smooth buying experience, which technology can most certainly provide (when done right). On the other hand as we connect more digitally, we risk the personal, “humanness” that customers also want also. Offline experiences require attention as well.

This balance is definitely achievable with the right partner. But it is worth looking at how to weave both sides together for a more perfect customer experience.

Making the Switch: Change Doesn’t Mean Pain

First a big apology. We have been silent for about a month! We have been hard at work, but are excited to get back here on the blog!


It’s not you, it’s me. I think we should just be friends. I’ve found someone else, I just don’t love you anymore.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it shouldn’t be that way when you want to change your ticketing platform. Of course changing providers can feel daunting, but it really doesn’t have to be. In this post we will take a look at why you might want to consider a new ticketing platform, what to consider before making the change and some tips on making the transition easier.

It’s Just a Rough Patch: Or Everything is Fine, Really.

There is no denying that in every relationship a little rain must fall, and that is absolutely true when it comes to our relationship with software we use everyday. Maybe it was cost, maybe it was exactly the system you needed at the time, maybe you inherited the system or maybe that was all there was at the time. Whatever the reason, there is good cause for the platform you have now. And sure it can be annoying now and then, but it gets the job done, right?

The thing is, unlike a personal relationship, your box office software relationship really needs to deliver. Deliver on time savings, on optimising workload – and ultimately helping to grow audiences and sales. It also needs to be able to grow with you. Anyone in a long time relationship will recognise that change is inevitable. In the case of your box office software, if your software cannot grow with your changing needs, no matter how much you love it, it is not delivering on what it should.

Ask yourself: does our platform help our organisation grow? Does it delight our end customers? Is it keeping us abreast of technology changes and changing buying behaviours?  Does it make sense financially? Are we missing opportunities because our software is holding us back? Do we really understand our audiences and their buying experience? Is it delivering on our goals? Do they have deep industry knowledge? And on a personal level, do you think you will get on with them?

We would never advocate change for the sake of it, but if your current platform is not delivering on aspects that are important to your organisation, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Change Doesn’t Have to be Challenging

Full disclosure: the above title might seem disingenuous, since we are a ticketing platform, but hear us out. Did you ever get the feeling that when you do decide to make a change roadblocks start popping up? For example, with some platforms you don’t actually own your customer data, which locks you down. Or maybe you get told that porting your data to another provider, “just is not possible.”

That is, in part, why we have worked so hard to ensure migration is smooth and seamless for those coming onboard with Ticketsolve. We provide a dedicated migration team to each onboarding. We take care of all the data migration, so you don’t have it. We want you up and running with Ticketsolve fast – so you can results fast too. Plus, once you are up and running with Ticketsolve, updates to the software happen weekly and automatically, so you never have to deal with costly downtime.

Sounds Too Good To Be True You Say?

Of course there can be hiccups, we do our best to make sure the process is as smooth as possible. But there are some things you can do help make the transition easier.


Start talking to your teams straightaway – even before you make the decision to change providers. Let them give insight on difficulties they are having and what they think is positive and what their dream platform would be like.

And don’t stop talk! Keep your teams in the loop the whole way through the process so they fully understand the process and have a chance to ask questions. Having your teams onboard will make a huge difference to your transition.

You will get push back – it is inevitable. Change is not easy. Work with your teams to help them to really understand the need for change.


Make sure that whichever platform  you choose, that they provide your team with all the training they need to get up and running. Ideally it should be part of the transition process – not an extra cost.

Be Realistic

There may be he hiccups, and some staff may get frustrated. With the right prep (and the right platform), it can really be very smooth and easy.

Set Goals 

Sit with your potential provider and go into detail about what your goals are, and how they will help you achieve your goals. Setting these goals means that you can really track how well you are hitting your milestones. 

Enjoy It

Obviously this is a big change, but don’t be daunted, enjoy it! Keeping positive about the change will make the process much smoother and exciting.

Don’t Take Our Word For It!

We have done almost 300 onboardings; interested in learning more about our process? Give us a call!

Happy Birthday To Ticketsolve

I am going to get a little personal this week.

So my daughter turned 11 this year. At 11 she is in the throws of tweendom: the requisite eye rolling, attempts at teen-like snark are intermingled with the desire for cuddles, and protests of, “but I am still a little kid!” 11 years have positively flown by, and as my daughter recently told me, “you know the arrow of time never stops dad.” Too damn right.

Around the time of her first birthday, I embarked on a different adventure: 10 years ago, was when we founded Ticketsolve.

If I am honest, 10 years ago feels like a lifetime ago – and not at all that long ago – all at the same time. I can vividly remember my daughter’s first shaky steps, just as well as I can remember our initial meetings around a very nascent online box office idea. At the time, we were running a pretty successful software consultancy firm. And while I loved that, being a programmer at heart, I really wanted to build something that would be different. But making the leap to Ticketsolve was a definite risk – especially when I was thinking of my young family.

In those early days, it was so clear that the arts community was sorely lacking in options. Options that were affordable yet, provided a really polished professional system that could help arts organisations build their online presence. After all, in 2007, internet purchasing was really only just beginning to take off. Jameson International Film Festival was our first collaborator, and user number 1 on Ticketsolve. That early collaborative work, was the pattern that set all our collaborations going forward – it is the perfect way for us to work.

Back then we were a very small team – I mean microscope. Everyone did everything! We worked our proverbial a*&%s off for sure. Long nights working, not made easier by a wee one at home, but still we were building something amazing and we knew it, though we were not without our stumbles along the way for sure.

I think what I am particularly pleased about though, is that after 10 years, and countless hours, we have maintained that drive to bring the best possible solutions to the arts communities in Ireland and the UK. It is incredible how much the platform is grown, and I love that we still work collaboratively with customers.

But what I am most proud of, is our team. We are a little bigger now of course, but I am constantly amazed at how much our team manages to do for customers and for the system each and every day. The women and men on the Ticketsolve team are truly fantastic – and we would absolutely not be where we are today with out them.

Ticketsolve has definitely been a labour of love – and a team effort; not without it’s ups and downs. Sort of like raising my daughter I suppose: a labour of love, a team effort, and DEFINITELY lots of ups and downs.

So happy birthday to my two favourite tweens – I am incredibly grateful only one of them is capable of snarking eye rolling.

Google Analytics Dashboards – What’s On Yours?

Google Analytics is a great tool. But how many of us actually go through each report and use the information to improve? Not many I would guess.

And that is totally understandable – working in the arts is a busy job. But like meditation, squeezing in a little Google analytics reflection is good for your marketing soul. So we thought it was about time to contemplate the perfect analytics dashboard.

Customise Your Dashboard

Dashboards are the best way to extract the maximum value from Google analytics, so that you can quickly identify what’s working and what’s not. But, getting those insightful pieces of information requires customisation. You want to see all the things that are important to you in one simple report, not an overwhelming mountain of data that will just confuse you. Even better, is that dashboards can be automatically emailed to you and your team at set intervals, giving you a regular heartbeat to your data.

Below are six pieces of data critical to your dashboard.

Ecommerce First – Always.

This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s amazing how many people don’t look at the ecommerce information. From here you can see how well your website is performing, the total revenue, transactions and average weight of purchase. The ecommerce conversion rate is probably the most important figure as this tells you how many of your customers are coming onto the website, and end up making a purchase. As an indicator, WordStream say that the average conversion rate in e commerce is 1.84%. Anything above this figure is great.

Path to ecommerce.

Besides just the ecommerce numbers that let you know how you are doing, it is important to know how you got those results. The “how” numbers give you a real insight into what is working and what is not.

Looking at the sessions, users, pageviews and other similar metrics, gives you a good picture as to how your got to those ecommerce metrics. For example, if you are looking at your bounce rate figures and they seem high, you need to think about tweaking your site to get people to stick around and dig deeper. Decreasing your bounce rate should give you a bump in increased ecommerce metrics. It all goes back to the ‘marginal gains’, a 1% improvement in 20 sections of the website will generate a 20% increase.

Visualise the data.

The raw numbers themselves might be a little overwhelming. But using the graphs and charts within analytics, you will be able to easily trends and identify growth (or lack thereof).

As you can see from the ecommerce graph above, you can quickly identify peaks and troughs in your online sales. Another top tip is to add annotations to your Google Analytics so that you can see why sales peaked on a certain day, i.e., February 28th – Facebook post announcing a big comedian.

Where are my customers coming from?

Now that you now how many tickets you are selling, and how many customers are coming onto your website, the next questions are, where are those customers coming from and how much revenue is generated from each source. As we have a full integration with Google Analytics this a very simple report to add to your dashboard.

Using tools such as Google URL BUilder, you can track all your digital marketing campaigns from one place. You will be able to see each campaign, and see if any of them are generating ticket sales (impressive right).

Your checkout funnel.

The checkout funnel is a very important report to add to your dashboard. It quickly shows you how many customers are going through the funnel – and perhaps more importantly –  where they drop off the booking process.

Again, tweaking a few things on your site could get more of your customers through the funnel buying tickets.

Desktop, Tablet or Mobile?

Do you know what devices your customers are using when making purchases on your site? This piece of data will allow you to optimise your website for those devices. Luckily, the booking pages of Ticketsolve are fully responsive. Customers on a purchasing from a website on a Ticketsolve platform can book using any device of their choosing (and this is why our customer are seeing much higher conversion rates that the average). Take a look at the platform, devices, browsers your customers are using and use that information to make impactful changes to your your site. You can even see the conversion rates per device as well.

There you have it, those are my tips for creating your dashboard. Obviously there are many more metrics you can look at, but as long as you have the basics, that should give you enough insight to get started. Don’t forget to schedule your dashboards so that they can be sent to you, and your team on whatever day you would like them. But most important, look at the data within the dashboards, and make slight changes here and there to increase your ecommerce metrics.


Like always, if you would like some help getting these up and running, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Falmouth University’s AMATA Students Get Real World Experience With Ticketsolve

Ticketsolve gets used in some pretty unique ways. Falmouth University’s integration of Ticketsolve is no exception.

We spoke to James Randell, production assistant for the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) at Falmouth University, and learned how Ticketsolve is helping their students get real world experience on an industry leading box office solution.


Based in Cornwall, Falmouth University offers an extensive arts degree programme to over 4,500 students and is the Number 1 Arts University in the UK. AMATA or the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts, runs nine speciality undergraduate courses in: dance; acting; theatre and performance; technical theatre arts; music, theatre and entertainment management; creative events management; creative music technology; popular music; music and offers a masters programme in creative events management.

AMATA’s ultimate goal is to equip students with the necessary skills for their professional life in the arts.

AMATA: For the Student Body and the Cornwall Community

But AMATA provides much more. Besides their comprehensive degree programmes, AMATA showcases events and shows for general public audiences. These events include student run performances, but also, as James explained, touring performances.

“With only one other major venue in the area, AMATA’s public programming is just as important to the wider community as it is to our student population. We ensure that touring shows that might not otherwise make it to Cornwall – do.”

But being both public and academic, means AMATA faces a constant balancing act. The multi-use space (finished in 2010), provides space for public and student performances, as well as space for class lectures and workshops.

All told, the AMATA arts programme covers six dance, six theatre, and six music shows a year, plus workshop style shows, exhibitions, as well as events and activities that relate to those shows or are linked to student engagement. Shows run all year, though the concentration of work is presented from autumn to spring.

Bringing on Ticketsolve

Prior to Ticketsolve, AMATA’s management team was working with limited resources and limited time. Their approach approach to box office and ticketing was, as James noted, “not streamlined”.

For example, neither the students nor the public could book online, and season tickets were managed through physical paper. Payment for tickets had to be done through the university’s financial system. All of this translated into inefficiencies and lots of wasted time. Moreover, there was big disconnect between the experience of buying a ticket to an event, and actually attending the event.

Clearly, AMATA needed to create a better customer journey.

“It became very obvious that we needed a new box office system to help us as we ramped up the public facing part of AMATA’s work,” said James. “This was especially important as our programme developed further and our audience sizes grew.”

For AMATA, having no previous system, meant they needed to define early on exactly what they needed now, and ensure that the new system could handle any future growth.

WANTED: Rich, Real World Experience for Students

Being able to start from scratch as such, also meant that AMATA could define specifically what they needed for their unique venue and situation.

Since AMATA’s public programme is already linked to course work, the next logical step was to integrate the box office. This had the dual advantage of allowing AMATA to capture much more data for audience development analysis, but also to give students real world event management experience.

During the procurement process James and his team found that many systems they looked at were:

  1. Cost prohibitive (license fees or per seat costs). Cost was extremely important, because AMATA needs to accommodate staff as well as students on the system.
  2. Not flexible enough to allow students unsupervised (e.g., no staff present) use of the system.
  3. Lacking control or freedom to use system as AMATA required.

Integrating Ticketsolve into Student Learning

Ticketsolve was implemented at AMATA in autumn 2015. The first stages of the implementation focused solely on AMATA staff learning how to use the system. In tandem, James worked to create lectures and training for students as part of their live event management course work.

At AMATA, 2nd and 3rd year students (focused on creative management) are required to develop a series of live events; one major one and several smaller shows. As part of this coursework, AMATA trains students on box office management, including using Ticketsolve, an industry leading box office platform.

“By integrating Ticketsolve into the live event module, students get hands on experience working with an industry standard box office system. They are able to really see what a professional box office system can do for their management of an event.”

Students are given training workshops and lectures on how to use the system, after which they are then encouraged to use the system unsupervised. Students can access AMATA’s online learning platform if they to refresh themselves on any aspect of the system.

See the video: Students used the Ticketsolve box office recently for a BBC Music introduction event.

Why a Professional System?

Using Ticketsolve for their event management projects gives students the opportunity to really think about sales, marketing and audience development for their events.

Interestingly, James explained how pricing of their events also impacted students learning.

“We instituted a minimum £5 price for all tickets. In the past students would grossly underprice tickets, leading to budgets getting completely blown. With the minimum ticket price (and no booking fee), students learn how they need to create value perception of their work (and not kill their budget). This perception of value is important not only for themselves, but even more so, for their audiences.”

In addition to learning how to use the system, James also presents lectures on the procurement process, as well as the implementation process. This aspect of the lectures is an excellent way to help students really understand how to evaluate systems they may encounter at various arts organisations during their careers.

Using Ticketsolve also, gives students a much more in-depth look at how various functions loop together to run an entire venue, from front of house teams to box office.

“In end, students leave university with real world transferrable skills on an industry standard box office system. They have a picture as to how a system like Ticketsolve needs to be procured and implemented. We are setting then up to be able to hit the ground running in their careers.”

Where to Next? Analysing and Interpreting Data.

For James and AMATA, the next step is to make data analysis a bigger focus for students.

Ticketsolve is now integrated with Audience Finder. This is important for AMATA, because the reporting tools within Ticketsolve are great, but AMATA’s location make it a slightly unique cultural landscape. With only one other large scale venue and many small and rural venues, not very many venues are set up like AMATA. Being able to see the landscape broadly will be helpful in audience building.

In addition, AMATA is now looking at how Ticketsolve can be brought offline and help deliver off site events.

To see more of AMATA and their student led events, check out Stitch (click the thumbnail below) their student led, managed and run fashion event.

Arts Organisations Are Like Startups.

On the surface businesses and arts organisations don’t seem to have a lot in common. Businesses are driven entirely by profit and shareholder value. Arts organisations are not driven by profit, but rather by providing arts, cultural and community value.

But just because their goals might be different start ups and arts organisations make up is oddly similar. Both start ups and arts organisations typically, know how to do work with limited budgets and resources, are creative problem solvers and fiercely passionate about what they do.

Why Start Ups Are Interesting?

Over the last number of years there has been a definite love affair over all things start up. Maybe it’s the mid-day meditation breaks or the in house masseuse, but I think it goes beyond that. I think it is desire for organisations to tap into innovation and become more agile – two things that start ups tend to be really good at.

And while I don’t think any of us are expecting a foosball table in our canteen anytime soon, there are plenty of take aways from start up culture that can really help arts organisations.

Promote Passion, Creativity and Innovation by Focusing on People

One thing that start ups are really good at, is focusing on their people. Happy, motivated teams are passionate, energetic and have an “anything is possible” mentality. Add to this, the idea of authenticity drives start ups, and so in turn they allow their people to be authentic to themselves. This means that people feel the organisation they are with is honest, and allows them to be their honest selves. This all makes teams interested in their work, and that is where the magic happens.

Arts organisations tend to attract passionate and energetic people from the outset, but it is worth considering incentives and ideas that help foster this type of community even more. Keep in mind this incentive does not have to be money or awards, but even just giving your teams more autotomy and flexibility where possible.

Focus on Your Vision and Growth

A shared purpose or shared vision is of course vital for any organisation arts or otherwise. Many arts organisations are very clear on their vision, and shared purpose. I would argue that alongside that shared arts or cultural objective, should be a vision for growth.

Growth does not have to focus entirely on ticket sales (but clearly we are not doing our jobs if increasing sales is not part of that growth), but could be a focus on growth of a particular audience type or membership growth or customer segmentation or even community involvement. The idea here is that growth (perhaps in a specific area), gives your team a true north – a clear focus.

Being Agile Lets You Be Innovative – And Fail Fast

Agile organisations is an often used, but perhaps little understood concept. What does agility really mean? An organisation that is agile can react quickly to changes. For the arts this might be changes in technology, audience or customer changes, or even funding shifts. Agile organisations tend to be flatter and respond well to change. While this may not entirely describe your organisation, it is worth thinking of ways to help your teams become more agile – even if only in small ways.

Agility (plus the factors we have noted above) can help drive innovation. This is incredibility important to arts organisations, who like start ups, have a fantastic (if not pressured) ability to do more with less. Innovation is a real hallmark and result of agility.

But while innovation allows you to try new things, it also has a risk of failure. After all, not all innovate ideas work.

Being agile allows you to innovate – and fail – but fail fast. Failing fast lets you turnaround and try something new. This may sound a little nuts (and frenetic), but my guess is that you probably do a version of this already.

One aspect that helps the idea of failing fast work really well is being data driven. Tools like Ticketsolve can help you gather data and change your direction if you need to, and really innovate. All the data is a your fingertips so that you can make intelligent and insightful decisions.

Okay What About Some Concrete Ideas?

So the above is really exploring cultural and mindset goals for your arts organisation, and may feel very familiar to what you are already doing. What are other concrete things that startups do that can be applied to arts organisations?

  1. Social Media – start ups are often social media mavens. They use every aspect of it to their maximum advantage. While you may already use Facebook and Twitter it is worth looking at other social media channels such as Instagram and others that work with your goals.
  2. Audio and Visual – not only to start ups use social media effectively, they use a tremendous amount of audio and visual content to connect to their audiences. The arts is rife with great audio and visual content, be sure to use it!
  3. Affiliate Marketing – think about where your audiences go online. Is there anything complimentary that could work there? Start ups are relentless about affiliates.
  4. Crowdfunding – we have talked about this before – this is a great option when looking for additional funding sources, especially for specific projects.
  5. Test, Data, Analyse – do this for all your activities and rinse and repeat. Be ruthless about tweaking ideas (or getting rid of them all together). Let the data do the talking.


Welcome Katy!

Have you met Katy yet? We are super excited to introduce you to Katy! Our newest superwoman in support!

Katy comes to us with amazing box office and sales experience. In addition to support experience, Katy has also worked in front of house, and has both hands on and supervisory experience in theatres. Katy has a keen creative spirit, with an interest in photography and painting and drawing.

Katy’s previous experience includes Royal Court Liverpool, Theatre Royal St. Helens and Tate Liverpool.

If you have not had a chance to say hello to Katy, please do!