TOR Systems, a ticketing and booking specialist, recommends that tourism and heritage companies take steps to futureproof their ticketing solutions when procuring, following the COVID-19 crisis.
As a result of the pandemic, many attractions have had to change the way they work. For instance, by bringing in advance booking and responding to changes in visitors’ requirements. However, TOR says it is important to take a long-term view, in order to maximise the impact of extra funding.
Futureproofing is key
TOR Systems Business Development Director Sarah Bagg says: “Due to the epidemic, there has been great support for the industry through grants from Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Funding and the Cultural Recovery Fund to help organisations implement fundamental changes to the way they operate.
“However, the time-limited restrictions for many of these grants often leads to short-term decisions when, for crucially important ticketing and software solutions, time needs to be spent carefully considering how the system may need to adapt in the future.”
But what is the best way to futureproof when procuring online ticketing and CRM solutions?
Carly Straughan, from QLINE Consulting, recommends that operators know what they are selling, as well as thinking about what additional products they might add in the future. She also says it is important to think about the needs of customers, and what internal resources are required to deliver these. In addition, attractions should consider their vision for the future, and the needs of their own team.
Finally, she advises that operators find a supplier that will grow with them and can highlight ways to be more efficient and effective.
What to look for in a supplier
The attractions industry has been forced to change rapidly over the last 18 months. Now, advance booking online or via smartphone is the norm for visitors of all ages. However, not all customers will want to do this, and some will still want the option to pay a spontaneous visit or to speak to the attraction by telephone.
Operators must think about the customer journey and how that has evolved, as well as exploring how target markets are changing and what visitors expect.
TOR recommends some key questions to review before embarking on procurement for ticketing and CRM:
- Longevity. How long do you see this system being in place. What are the objectives for that period and what changes may occur during that time?
- Team Players. The success of a ‘ticketing’ system is that it delivers all that it needs to for all stake-holders. A good tender document will consider what’s needed for the customer, the accounts team, marketing, and all functions dealing with redemption such as front of house, retail/catering. What resource is available in house and who is going to deliver the project to go live and beyond?
- Service. What do you need from the supplier. What expectations do you have for support and ongoing services? Get to know the team. Will you be able to make use of customer events that the supplier hosts, which will allow you to learn from co-workers in others attractions using the same solution?
- Functionality. How are you evaluating the priorities of your requirements – what’s most important and to who? What are your compromises? How much consideration have you given to the system/service supporting you into the future?
- Cost. How are you setting the budget for the system? What supplier cost model is best for your business – heavy loaded upfront and annual subscription, or transaction based? What are the reasons for this and is it viable for the future growth of the company? Will you be prepared to look at alternative pricing models for the right supplier?
- Agility. How have you considered the importance of the flexibility of a system, for in-house management to be able to deal with last minute changes/refund system/commercial opportunities, i.e spectrum of ticket types – day ticket, memberships, gifts and VIP packages? How important is it that your supplier can respond quickly to your ever-changing requirements? Does the supplier’s business model allow for quick decision-making, effective software development and efficient delivery?
- Data. The ticket purchasing moment is a key opportunity to collect valuable data on visitors. Technology partners need to be able to manage the data, but make it easily accessible to you the user, as it needs to be used to communicate in the future and help to manage relationships.
Maxim by TOR
Maxim is TOR’s real-time integrated booking, ticketing and CRM system, which supports museums, zoos, galleries, theme parks, castles, heritage sites and gardens by providing the very best in ticketing, membership, retail and catering and CRM functionality.
Hannah Monteverde is the manager of Norfolk-based adventure park BeWILDerwood. She says “For us, the key win for the Maxim solution provided by TOR Systems is the incredibly simple functionality for both customer and staff. This simple user journey means we are no longer swamped by calls from customers struggling to book tickets and our online ticket sales have increased massively.
“TOR offers support personalised to our requirements and it has been a great team to work with, adapting and adjusting to our needs.”
Bagg adds: “Our long-standing client relationships are not just down to the system we provide but most importantly our honest and open approach to partnerships, the ability to listen and take on board feedback and our continued efforts to provide high-quality support.”
Earlier this year, TOR Systems recruited Gabriel Leatham, a Masters-degree educated software developer, expanding its development team. The addition of this new highly skilled team member will allow the company to build on its existing software.