We listen very carefully to our customers’ suggestions. These suggestions are the source of ideas for product development. It is a system that has worked well. Because we have incorporated these recommendations into the regular versions of our software, we have avoided going down several dead-end streets and have been brought back to the path when we’ve strayed. That’s how our products stay vital.
Still, in this business, nothing is normal. We have customers that have requirements that go beyond anything that has ever existed.
These are our special projects.
The problem: Seats are sold to ticket brokers and usually about two years in advance. When you multiply a block of 100 seats, times today’s ticket price, times 300 performances a year the result is in the millions of dollars. Ticket brokers simply do not have this kind of cash to lay out in advance.
The solution: We modified Tixpro to keep track of accounts receivables. The Tixpro modifications enabled the company to keep track of which brokers have paid for which performances. Now, ticket brokers make arrangements to purchase blocks of tickets and they only need to pay a small deposit.
The problems: Keeping track of commissions paid to concierges, waiters, taxi cab drivers and remote sales. Because of a creative staff is good enough that the box office rakes in about a million dollars a month.
The solution: Nothing fancy or clever; just a lot of hard work. Because the accounts receivables programming was successful, we implemented this feature into our Pro version. Other features include:
“Will your software work? I have 20,000 seats for six consecutive nights and I am presenting quartets.” “Sure, our software will work. But, let me ask you this, Just how do you expect to fill that many seats for six nights with quartets? I can’t think of any quartet that can do that short of the original four Beatles.”
“Oh, you don’t understand. These are gospel quartets. I won’t have any problem.”
The problem: The audience wants to sit a little closer when there are empty seats. Of course, the following year they want to renew and get the same seats. In a small venue, exchanging seats for two nights would not be much of a problem. In this case, the venue of 20,000 seats was far too much work for a staff of two people.
The solution: A special utility program to rollover the seats from the previous year was developed. The program lets the operator decide which seats she wants to rollover and the program goes to work.
Did it work? Well, the organization started with 20,000 seats in Louisville, Kentucky. Now, they have 14,000 seats in Fresno, California, 4,500 seats in Red Deer, Alberta, and 18,000 seats in Toronto.
The Church started using our software to keep track of the audience in the Tabernacle. They do not use our software to keep track of money (in fact, nothing in Temple Square is for sale). When they built a new conference center, our software was the logical choice. However, they had a few unique problems.
The problems: People come from all over the world to conferences and the demand for tickets exceeds the supply. However, tickets are given away and there is a no-show rate as high as 25%. The previous solution was to have as many as 4,000 people in the standby lines. The other problem is that they need to release the standby seats as the hall fills up.
The solution: Bar coding tickets. Now, when each person comes to the entrance, their ticket is checked with a bar code scan. If the ticket is good, they are let in. The bar code scans, then goes into an SQL database for processing. The processed scans are broadcast to PDAs the ushers carry. All the ushers need to do is look at their PDAs and they get a visual indication of how the hall is filling up and where they can send the standby ticket holders. This happens in real time. The system keeps up with a scan rate that can be up to 2,000 scans per minute.
There are some other benefits as well. The bar code scans are fed back through an ODBC link into the ticketing system. That way, they know which tickets are used and not used. Next time the tickets get distributed, the people who did not show up, will not get quite as many tickets allocated to them.
Note: This project was not entirely our doing. We also give a lot of credit to the staff of the Conference Center for designing the system, assembling the equipment and keeping it running. Data Recognition designed the bar code readers and wrote the program for scanning the bar codes.
The most amazing thing is that everything worked the way it was planned. This comes as no surprise to the staff who simply say, “Didn’t you know? God is with us.”
The problem: How to print the unsold seats on a section by section basis – sometimes, just particular rows of a section. That way, the tickets can be distributed to remote, non-wired gates near the seats.
The solution: A simple program galled GateRush. This program lets the staff select which section for which they need to print tickets. The staff prints the tickets and prints a report of the number of the tickets that were distributed this way.