Pither.com / Simon
Development, systems administration, parenting and business

Tickets: selling, sending, supporting and checking; all in three weeks

Towards the end of May, SupaJam launched the first round of several festival ticket give aways planned for this summer. This wasn’t the first time SupaJam has given away festival tickets, but it is the first time that we've done it in this way.

Technically, it all went well. The days afterwards did include a rather large number of support emails though!

In hind sight, this isn't entirely surprising, we do make life a little difficult for ourselves. These give aways are providing a limited number of quite valuable tickets, so to protect ourselves and the festivals we want to make sure that the tickets we give away are not resold. We don't want a ticket tout to end up benefiting. Hence we always collect a real (ID-able) name for each ticket. If that wasn't enough to ask of people claiming these tickets, we gave them away first-come-first-served, so everyone typing in their details was typing in a hurry!

So in flooded the requests to change names, correct spellings, return duplicates that were got for or by friends and assorted other amendments.

It quickly became apparent that giving away tickets in this way had a fairly high support cost associated with it.

So we put our thinking caps on and decided that we should charge a small administration fee to cover some of the support costs that seemed to be inevitable. Of course, this meant we needed some kind of e-commerce setup in order to process these fees.

Part of the deal that we made with the festival for these tickets meant that we had to run our own box office, on site at the festival, to process and verify each of our ticket holders. A process for making that happen, both reliably and quickly was also a challenge we hadn't solved yet.

By the time we'd revised our approach, we had just three weeks until the first festival - the London Feis in Finsbury Park. This story (which I've split into four further parts to ease my writing as much as your reading) is my journey through the technology solutions I developed and built to enable hundreds of people to enjoy a free festival courtesy of SupaJam.

(Each part below will become a link as I write the articles.)

Part 2 - Ticket sales
Part 3 - Customer support and search
Part 4 - Creating and running the technology for a box office
Part 5 - Lessons from becoming a ticket agent and box office in 3 weeks

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