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1 Do I have to bash heads together? How to get the best out of your ticketing and website integration. Let s start with a couple of definitions! Websites and ticketing integrations aren t a plug and play solution. They are bespoke solutions designed to make the best use of your time across the two systems and give your customers the best experience of dealing with you as an organisation. Software integration: Software system integration refers to the practice of combining individually tested software components into a integrated whole. Software is integrated when components are combined into subsystems or when subsystems are combined into products. Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon In information technology, systems integration is the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally, to act as a coordinated whole. Wikipedia When working on scoping this work with clients I ve been asked how do other people do it?. Answering that question won t necessarily help anyone. The point of it being bespoke is that the integration can be built to meet your needs - and some of that is about how you work as an organisation and how different departments work together. Websites with online ticketing are a business tool - not just a marketing channel. Large numbers of organisations are making more than 50% of their sales online so the project needs to be approached with an appropriate level of effort. If you don t have the skills or resources (ie can t release staff from other projects to do this one justice) then seriously consider getting a specialist in to manage the project. 39% great 39% could have been better As others have mentioned during the conference - online is the cheapest way for a venue to sell a ticket but it doesn t need to be the cheapest It should still provide the quality of service that you want customers to experience How well did your recent online ticketing integration project go? 21% said Never make me do that again!

2 Let s make online ticketing better! I ve tried to put them into a sensible order but really they all interlink and overlap at various stages across the lifecycle of a project. 5 Things You Can do to Make Your Online Ticketing Awesome! 1. Focus on your users Who are the users of the systems and the data they hold? Internal Users: Box office Marketing Fundraising/development Events/hospitality Shop External Users: Customers Partners WHY? Silos. This comes up all the time - and it s not exclusive to any one sector - but over time, companies can start to operate in departmental silos. Integration projects like this tend to require that different teams work together to get the best results. This means that the departments need to have shared goals and work together. The best way to do that - short of completing changing the way your company functions day-to-day - is to focus on the user for the project. Internal Users - Staff: Some of your users will be internal - box office and marketing staff. - Is there any work currently being duplicated? - Or are there some quirky legacy processes in place because of some workaround you had to make 10 years ago? It s probably possible to streamline those things during this project. In the long run that will free up staff time to do some of the other things in their job description! External Users - Mainly Your customers: - Who are your customers? - What do you want them to do on the website? - How does that work at the moment? Work out some user journeys and try them on the website. - What do you want to give them?

3 This means that marketing requirements of the ticketing supplier are likely missed. Was anyone from the marketing team involved in the procurement of your Ticketing Supplier? Yes = 63% No = 21% Don t know = 16% Silos!! Survey also showed that - Marketing people tend to think their web agency is better than their ticketing provider - Box office people think that their ticketing supplier is better than their web agency - Folk with digital or technology in their job title gave them a roughly equal score but generally scored both lower than the others And was anyone from the sales, box office or ticketing team involved in the website agency procurement process? So if you can t change the culture of your company in time to do your next web project, you can use the integration project as your first stab at it Yes = 41% No = 35% Don t know = 16% It s all one system = 8% What do you want your users to do? What do your users need to be able to do? What works nicely at the moment? What s stopping them at the moment? Intro to User Experience (UX) The impetus to install a new ticketing system or develop a new website often comes from either: - the current set up is no longer (deemed to be) satisfactory to internal or external users - a change in the way the company operates - a supplier s business changes or a system is deprecated But don t throw the baby out with the bath water - know what you want to improve. Work out some user journeys and test them regularly (more on this later) We - like many web, branding and marketing companies - use personas to help focus our clients minds on their target audience. For personas to work they need to be realistic and recognisable. You could take this a step further by asking someone to take on the role of Customer Ambassador. Eg, a box office assistant who talks to your customers on a day to day basis, knows their common questions, frustrations and the things that they like about your venue. They shouldn t be involved in the project - they are there to run ideas about the proposed product past. Ask them to do testing when you get to that point. But don t involve them in the nitty gritty, the complexities of the project. They should speak as a customer and be allowed to be as critical as they need to be. Also talk to real customer - offer them a free ticket or a free coffee to help you with something.

4 About integration projects. Survey question: We'd love to hear about your experiences of taking on these projects so feel free to share any additional info or your experiences (good or bad!) They are a bear but you have to do it to keep up with your patrons and what they want/need. Lead the project: Assign a project manager and ensure they have sufficient time to lead on the project. Not only is the client-side project manage the day-to-day contact, they are also responsible for making sure that they get sufficient input from the rest of the organisation at all levels, that they manage the suppliers effectively and that they understand - or can learn to understand - the technology of what s happening. 2. Project Management Identify who your client-side project manager is Make sure everyone knows who they are Build a project team around them - knowledgable staff from other teams Their responsibilities: Lead the project Manage suppliers Decision maker It s not just a shop window and in an ideal world the online ticket purchase should work as effectively as buying a ticket over the phone or in the venue might be (or you d like it to be). Supplier management: the web agency and the ticketing provider are both your suppliers. Each of them may assign you a project manager but neither of them are ultimately responsible for the delivery of your project - the designated client-side project manager is. The best way to get the most out of your suppliers is to understand what they re each responsible for, to understand what they need from each other and what they need from you and to make sure that they get it. Ultimately we ll both take our lead from you, the client, so be clear about what you want from us and then we can work out how to do that for you. Decision making: The person making the decisions about what solutions to implement should be the client - not one of the suppliers. Suppliers can outline different solutions to a problem but the decision about which way to proceed is down to the client. So make sure you give your PM the power and support to do that. The ideal! Project managers from all sides are the key day to day contacts on all sides of the project - client, ticketing and web. If detailed conversations need to happen between other team members (the blue men!) they can facilitate those. The client is the project owner - they have to live with the final result and it s their customers who will shout loudest if something s wrong. The client is also in the position of managing these two suppliers - they have the stronger voice to make demands on the suppliers. If lots of clients are demanding functionality from a supplier then it will be developed. Project managers on all sides of the project will have internal project teams to manage - which might look something like this - as well as their own workloads. They will have systems in place to help them do that and you will probably have to use those tools at some point. Take the time to learn how to use them properly - even if you re never going to have to use them again.

5 Some feedback from respondents to the survey. Question: With the benefit of hindsight,what is the one thing you wish you'd known before you started your last website and ticketing integration project? I would have hired a true project manager Get some expert advice in. Also - if you feel that your organisation is very guilty of having strong silos sometimes having an external PM can help break down barriers by removing the sense of ownership being within a specific team. This can lead to better conversations, stronger focus on users and better results. I wish I had known to tell the web company to develop what we needed earlier Project Management is your most important role to fill. There are lots of aspects to this but generally Cost of PM - whether this is the financial cost of bringing someone in to run it, or the cost of diverting staff from other work to this 3. Budget and resource the project Cost of installation Cost of website build Cost of project management Contingency Ongoing costs Time! With the best will in the world - after the project launches you may find things that got missed or find that lots of customers hate something and you want to rethink it rather than just leave them with it Technology is moving quickly. Invest long term in the systems you install. Your ticketing provider will be bringing out new features and bug fixes regularly but if you don t have any annual funds to dip into you may not be able to make use of them. Keeping on top of updates and new features - cherry picked to best suit your customers - will help you to keep your online ticketing up to date. As was mentioned in a session yesterday - an online ticket sale costs less than a counter or phone sale. Investing a little more in that individual sale and giving the customer a really good experience will help make them like you (if they weren t already sure that they did). The more complex an integration, the more expensive it will be, but arguably - the more successful it will be from the user perspective. If customers like and are comfortable with your online ticketing then the online share of ticket sales should grow - saving you money in other places in the long run. It s important to focus on the ROI (return on investment) and not the size of the upfront cost.

6 You might not even need a whole overhaul - maybe just enough wiggle room with timescales and budget to make some small changes to accommodate new features. It would have been better to take the opportunity to do a whole website overhaul, rather than having to make the ticketing system functionality be limited by the existing website functionality/style Applies to pretty much everything you buy though doesn t it? Survey question With the benefit of hindsight,what is the one thing you wish you'd known before you started your last website and ticketing integration project? You get what you pay for - it's worth it to spend a little more on a more robust ticketing system" When was the last time you bought a ticket from your own website? 4. Test and measure This is something you can start today! Map out and test some User Journeys Set up Analytics - more than just the code Listen to your customers Allow sufficient testing time during the project Repeat that list of tasks on your testing set up Keep an eye on your analytics an ongoing basis User Journeys - put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Create different scenarios, go through each of them as though you were a customer: Google a show you know is on and buying a ticket Start from the homepage and browse to a show to buy a ticket Forget your password and need to reset it Once you ve got something in your basket, get distracted by something else and come back 30mins later to finish buying the ticket Buy a ticket on your mobile phone As you do each of these things: Make a list of the things that delight you Make another list of the things that irritate you Share these with your current suppliers and see if you can find ways to make improvements in the next few months! (maybe you don t need to change either supplier!) Google Analytics - use goals, ecommerce, dashboards, reports. You should start to spot trends, identify things that you want to improve

7 Survey question: With the benefit of hindsight,what is the one thing you wish you'd known before you started your last website and ticketing integration project? How to continually integrate all the google analytics and tracking Integration with CRM, access control and sales reporting tools" Sounds obvious doesn t it? To be specific - write an online ticketing brief to share with both relevant suppliers. 5. Write a Brief We often find that: - For a new web project/client - the integration tends to get one or two lines about needing to exist and perhaps improve current service. - For existing clients changing suppliers it s usually a question - we re changing our ticketing to x, how much will it cost? Having spoken to a few ticketing software suppliers - they don t always get a brief about what the online ticketing should deliver either. Obviously there are some briefs that are better than others - not everyone is guilty of this!! What to include: The name of your ticketing supplier Links to examples of other online ticketing that best represents what you want to achieve The full range of what you want to integrate What you want to achieve for your users Budget - Ticketing Supplier: we ve found that it s not always named so just check you have included it! This is especially important if you are changing suppliers. - Include examples of integrations you like! hopefully that will include one or two examples of work by the web and/or ticketing folk you work with/ want to work with! - Ticketing products: More than just ticketing these days. Most offer additional features including membership, donations, merchandise and more. Outline which bits you want to use. - What do you want to acheive: Remember those two lists you made when you tested your website? You can include some of them too - the really big ugly problems that you want to improve. Remember - this is for internal users and for your customers. - Budget: Integrations come in many forms - your budget will help your ticketing and web bods gauge what level of integration you can afford and provide realistic solutions. There s more than one way to do an integration and if we know what you want to fix then we can work together to provide alternative, affordable solutions. Share this with both suppliers. Then let s all get together and talk about it.

8 5 Things You Can do to Make Your Online Ticketing Awesome! 1. Focus on your users 2. Manage your project 3. Allocate budget 4. Test and measure 5. Write a brief Good luck! This is not an exhaustive list of terms that you need to know but it is a starting point. Swot up here: Here s a write up of this session: Pop Quiz! iframe SSL XML Feed API Single Sign On Subdomain Wildcard SSL Taxonomy PCI DSS Embedded Content Staging Site/Environment Data Migration Cache /13

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