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Artisan Center Theater and OpenTickets – Case Study

Artisan Center Theater – History

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Artisan Center Theater (“Artisan”) was reaching its 10th year Anniversary. With growth every year, Artisan featured a Main Stage for larger productions, Artie’s Playhouse for children’s theater and Education classes. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, Artisan was growing but was budget-conscious and need to find a solution to a lurking problem.

With growth comes challenges. Artisan’s challenges included  that their existing ticketing system was not meeting their growth.

  • Customer’s complained about the slowness of the system online and found timeouts, resulting in low satisfaction and often loss of sale.
  • Customers could not print their own tickets. Box office personnel had to print tickets at the cost of time and expense.
  • Ticketing system (and website) was not compatible with mobile tablets and phones.
  • Only about 40% of their sales were done online, creating a long line at Box Office and Will Call for every performance.
  • The architecture of the ticketing system was not scalable, so the more they sold the slower it got. It served them when they had 60 seats and 3 shows a week, but at 200 seats and 2-3 shows a day, it wasn’t working.

For these reasons it was determined by Artisan that they needed another solution. Rick Blair, Founder of Artisan, said

 After 9 years of steady growth, (Artisan) had outgrown our old… ticketing system. Some developers in India offered to create one, but that frightened us. We looked everywhere for something that was flexible, affordable and preferably open-source so it could grow and change with us.

Artisan got in touch with Quadshot Software (“Quadshot”), the creator of OpenTickets, to launch a new website for them. After finding out how many challenges they were having with the current ticketing system, the decision was made by Artisan to integrate OpenTickets into their organization.

The Engagement

In preparing OpenTickets for launch, Quadshot travelled to Texas to interview all the people who manage their departments. In order make sure that OpenTickets really worked for Artisan, we had to ensure that all department’s needs were met.

Quadshot talked to all the people at Artisan who handle:

  • Management
  • Box Office
  • Design
  • Website Content
  • Accounting
  • Will Call
  • Ushers

Then, with the input from all the people that had to interface with OpenTickets, we planned all the customizations Artisan required.

Since OpenTickets is built on WordPress and WooCommerce, both open-source systems for web publishing and e-commerce respectively, we were able to make changes to support the unique needs of Artisan.

During the Customization phase of the project, the new Artisan website and OpenTickets customization were deployed to a staging environment for testing and changes. Quadshot worked closely with Artisan management and staff to ensure that the switch from their old system to OpenTickets was smooth, including data migration for all old customer sales records from their previous ticketing system.

It was core principle in designing OpenTickets that it HAS to be flexible to every customer’s unique needs.

In April 2013, Artisan went live with OpenTickets.

From our very first contact, working with (OpenTickets) has been a pleasure and rewarding experience.  Please feel free to share my hardy endorsement… – Rick Blair, Founder, Artisan Center Theater

The Results

After 6 months of operation, Artisan has had tremendous success using OpenTickets. Having sold over 40,000 tickets in the initial 6 months, Artisan has many new capabilities provided by OpenTickets.

Some highlights from Artisan’s 6-month review:

  • Online ticket sales grow from ~40% to over 80% of total sales.
  • Customers now can print their own bar-coded Tickets, reducing costs for Artisan and making Customers much happier.
  • Revenue growth up over 30% year-over-year.
  • The check-in process for customers was reduced from about 40 minutes at Will Call every show to ~5 minutes. This improvement was largely due to Customers having their own tickets.
  • Donations can be made online, including an optional Donation on checkout.
  • Products can now be sold online in conjunction withartisan_2014_show Tickets – ex. Merchandise for a show.
  • Season Passes and Flex Passes were created using the OpenTickets coupon module – record sales for Season Tickets were set in August.
  • Flash Sales can be made using ‘Coupons and Sales’ module. When a show was under-sold on a certain day, Artisan made a “special discount” code, email blasted it to their customers, and the show sold-out.
  • ‘Reports’ allowed management to analyze show performance data and export sales records into their Accounting system.
  • Box Office has new Administrative interface which allows them to rapidly solve customer issues and sell tickets through many payment types.
  • Classes were sold online for the first time –  generating additional revenue and now integrated with Reporting.
  • Seating Chart changes are now possible and easy to change. When “Tarzan” and”Buddy Holly” productions both required physical layout changes, these were easily implemented using OpenTickets Seating Chart features for those productions.
  • Private Shows were possible for special events and fundraisers.
  • and many more…

Michael Cremean, Founder and CEO of Quadshot, went to Artisan in August 2013 to attend the “2014 Season Announcement” party. The ‘reveal event’ was also the first opportunity for Season Ticket sales for existing Customers.

Rick Blair commented:

Thank you so much for coming to our Theater for the launch of our 2014 Season Ticket Sales Campaign during the week of August 5 thru 9!  This meant so much to our entire organization!  The Board of Directors are thankful that you took the time to review the features and benefits of the new ticketing software with them.  Our staff has thanked me for your help and “just being here” to see that “small things stay small” during the opening days.  Of course, I can not verify all of the numbers from previous years because some of the records are lost, but it appears the launch of 2014 Season Ticket orders is setting an all-time record…

Artisan is now expanding to a second theater created for Artie’s Playhouse instead of sharing one stage with Main Stage productions. In 2014 they open the new theater.

Summary

By embracing OpenTickets and the open-source model, Artisan now has the tools to adapt to market needs quickly and engage with their customers in new and interesting ways.

Rick Blair summarized the experience of Artisan’s first 6-months using OpenTickets:

What you have done for our business is very difficult to express in words, but I will try. (Working with Quadshot and OpenTickets)  has been the most refreshing and exciting professional business relationship I can remember in 35 years of business. Artisan Center Theater recently celebrated our 10th Birthday. We are now one of the top 10 Community Theaters in America with over 70,000 patrons attending each year. (OpenTickets) has insured we will have many more to come. Thank you.