If you are looking to select a new theatre ticketing system for your community theatre or musical theatre organization, an important first step is preparation. Such preparation involves getting some basic knowledge of the ticketing system industry and becoming clear on your business objectives for a new system.
Let’s start with the business objectives. Either you have an automated system now, and you want to replace it, and you are moving from a manual process and you wish to automate. If you are looking to replace an existing system, what are your reasons? When we ask event producers why they wish to replace the existing theatre ticketing system, we usually get one of the following reasons:
Current system is too expensive.
Current system does not provide the functionality we need.
Current system is too difficult for our staff or our customers to use.
We get less than satisfactory support.
It is useful to identify your specific reason for thinking about replacing the system. That way, when you define your requirements, you can ensure you include what you currently want but don’t have.
It is also useful, however to identify what you do like about your current system and vendor. Even though you wish to replace your system, there are probably aspects of it that are indeed very good. If you forget to include those in your requirements, you will end up with a new system, but also with new shortcomings. You do not want to go through a selection twice!
If you do not currently have a theatre ticketing system, and you are looking to automate an existing manual process, what are your drivers for doing so? When we speak to event producers about this, we typically hear the following:
Our manual process creates too many mistakes.
We cannot do reserves seating.
It is too difficult to price different sections differently.
We’d like to move our resources from tracking tickets to producing the event.
Again, specifying the problems you are looking to solve will help in defining the requirements.
Ticketing Software Industry Trends
The preparation should also involve a bit of learning about the ticketing software industry and the changes that it is currently going through. The ticketing solution landscape is quite different today from two years ago, and it will be quite different two years from now.
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A few years ago, there was one dominant player – Ticketmaster – and very few competitors. There were not many solutions for small to medium-sized venues. Today, there are many new ticketing solutions available for these venues. Capterra.com, a site which lists software providers, lists over 50 ticketing software companies. There are about another 100 systems not listed.
What is happening is similar to what happens in many industries. In the early years of any new industry (Stage 1), many players enter the market and compete to become dominant. A few winners survive and enjoy their leadership position (Stage 2). At some point though, new technology, new attitudes or new requirements emerge. These changes allow new companies to form and offer new solutions to the market – a re-fragmentation (Stage 3). Eventually, a shakeout occurs, and the industry re-consolidates back to a few players (Stage 4). The previous dominant player may or may not be one of the new survivors. Of course, this cycle can keep repeating over decades.
I believe we are at Stage 3 with respect to ticketing software. Web technologies which enable such features as software-as-a-service, print-at-home ticketing, and mobile ticketing have allowed new companies to participate in this industry. Soon, we will be shifting to Stage 4, Re-consolidation, during which a few of these ticketing system providers will emerge as winners.
Why should you care about all of this? It is important that you choose a system that is likely to emerge as one of the winners when re-consolidation occurs. You would want to be careful of companies that are brand new or have few references. On the other hand, you would want to ensure that more mature companies are indeed taking advantage of the latest technological possibilities.
Want to learn more about selecting a theatre ticketing system? Download the White Paper “Five Steps to Selecting a Ticketing System”