One of the opportunities we have right now is to challenge the conventional wisdom that back-of-house systems need to always be ‘enterprise grade’. As we are currently in renovation mode and our exhibitions and programs are happening offsite and around the city, we have the chance to rethink and experiment with different systems to perform common functions such as ticketing. In so doing we are looking at the way different systems shape visitor/staff interactions and are also able to refocus by choosing systems on their user experience rather than their ‘backwards compatibility’.
A recent change we’ve made is to use EventBrite for ticketing, replacing a system that despite being tightly integrated with our donor management system placed an inscrutable purchasing interface between the customer and their desired tickets. It isn’t a permanent solution (what is these days?), but more the opening of a ‘possibility space’.
So how is it going?
Our ticket selling velocity has increased – events sell more quickly – and we’ve been able to integrate ticket selling directly into our email marketing, as well. When ticket price points have reached capacity we’ve used automatic waitlisting and we’ve even been able to collect donations as purchasers buy tickets, and we’ve also been able to issue refunds easily when required. Most importantly the customer experience of purchasing tickets has vastly improved.
Last night, we had our first trial of a medium size event check-in. Using the EventBrite iPhone Check-In App we were able to run a cashless door using staff members’ iPhones to check everyone in quickly. Checkins were done via ticket scans and where people had forgotten their printed ticket, by name. Each iPhone synced to the master list meaning that we could easily ‘add extra ticket staff’ to process more people if we had a logjam. This had a nice side effect of freeing up staff time to direct visitors to our roving iPads for quick signup to our mailing list on their way into the venue.
But the purpose of deploying lightweight technologies as a replacement for gargantuan enterprise systems is not just about improving visitor experience, or streamlining back-of-house operations – it is also about positioning us to reconceptualise the type of entry/ticketing experience we might want for our new building and galleries when they are completed.
If it is possible to do the entry experience to events in a seamless mannner with only mobile devices, can a museum jettison its ticket counter in a redesign? It also makes us ask ourselves to be specific about the other functions ticket counters might serve.