The ticketing process is a vital part of any organisation that offers events or attractions. Yet it can be difficult to get right. Organisations must make sure that their ticketing platform guides the user to finding — and purchasing — the product they need. It's crucial to design the user journey well in order to provide a seamless user experience, and ultimately promote sales. On the technical side of things, it is vital to choose the right technology to support these aims.
Adapting your tech for difficult times
With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, we worked with many of our clients to pivot their business models and ensure they remain successful under radically different operating circumstances. In the events and visitor attractions space, this has mostly focused on adapting the ticketing process to meet government restrictions around visitor numbers.
At ZSL London Zoo, for example, it was no longer possible to buy tickets at the gate, and digital ticketing on their SRO4 platform became the only option for visitors. We, therefore, created additional steps in the digital ticketing journey to support changes in the ticketing model.
Firstly, we created a virtual queue system to deal with greater demand, ensuring customers didn't have to stay glued to their screens whilst they waited to buy a ticket. We built a system to accommodate Zoological Society members, who could previously turn up on the day but now had to book a free ticket online if numbers allowed. We also added time slots to the booking process, helping ZSL space out visitors across the day and maximise the number of people who could safely visit the Zoo.
With physical events still proving a challenge, and another national lockdown, cultural institutions are also looking at options for online events - whether via streaming or on demand. The National Gallery for example is offering online art courses, and the Southbank Centre is now selling tickets for live streamed concerts and literature events. This pivot towards virtual events was easy to integrate into the Southbank Centre website, thanks to the flexible, component based design and setup we built on their Tessitura platform.
It's all about the journey
It's not possible to build a successful digital platform of any kind without a thorough understanding of the needs of the people who will use it. But understanding users, and building technology that meets their needs, can be a real challenge when it comes to ticketing.
A user's journey when buying tickets is complex, with multiple possible entry points such as internet searches, social media links, homepage visits, different kinds of visitors with different requirements, capacity restrictions, price variations and more. As Sean Holden, Creative Lead at TPXimpact, says:
“There is no real typical ticketing journey, but as a minimum, the journey will always take the user from initial consideration through to purchase. The ideal ticketing journey is one without distraction – you need to help the user achieve what they came to do. Often there are lots of different ticket options so it's a complicated process that you are trying to make a singular user experience for.”
Enabling the user to make their purchase involves meeting their expectations for what a ticketing journey should be like, and guiding them along this route. Leading with the product and the date is extremely important, as most users already have an idea of what they want to attend and when they want to go.
Organisations often want to take the opportunity to upsell during the ticketing process, but any upgrades or additional features should be relevant to the product and not act as a barrier to the purchase. That said, the ticketing journey can be a great place for visitor attractions to promote other products such as membership, by advertising its perks such as free tickets, discounts and priority booking.
Adaptable and well researched
For visitor attractions doing their best to stay open during covid-19, the ticketing process must remain flexible to deal with unexpected changes. It's also an ideal place to inform customers about the details of their visit, including covid regulations, protective measures at the venue, and refund policies.
An adaptable and resilient technology platform is needed to support ticketing aims, particularly during such an unprecedented time of change. But the tech platform must be flexible enough to allow for a robust and seamless user journey, taking customers from initial interest in a product all the way through to purchase.
Here are five key takeaways to help you design this process:
Do your research — understand the user's journey, their pain points, and the way they want to engage with the system.
Know your product — make sure you know the parameters of each product in your catalogue, and the different requirements this may make on the ticketing process.
Keep it simple — don't clutter up the user journey in an effort to upsell. The user needs to be seamlessly guided from the interest in an event to making a purchase, and too many distractions can get in the way.
Provide a reason — give users clear sight of why they should do things. Want them to sign up for membership, for example? Explain that they'll get cheaper tickets in return. But be careful, trying to force people to do things they don't want to do won't work, and won't help your ticket sales.
What's the end goal? Be clear from the outset on what is important to you. Are you trying to sell out as quickly as possible? Or do you want to spread visitors out across different times and locations? You'll need to adapt the ticketing process accordingly.
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