We’re celebrating a special birthday – 2019 is TicketSource
’s fifteenth anniversary. Still based in the Welsh seaside town where we began, TicketSource has grown from a tiny tech start-up to a well-established online business, handling £40 million in ticket sales for almost 90,000 events each year.
TicketSource started with “a lightbulb moment” for our founder and CEO, Simon Wilsher. Simon became interested in computer science and software development from a young age but, thanks to a proactive music teacher, he also got involved in amateur theatre. While participating in productions with different groups in and around Cardiff, he discovered they all struggled with the same ticketing issues.
“Selling tickets was key to the success of a production, and the future of the organisation, but it was a job that nobody wanted to take on. You’d have a very reluctant ticket secretary, who you could buy tickets from at rehearsals or try and catch on their home phone number. It was very hit and miss.”
Simon realised he could bring his two interests together and offer a solution enabling people to book tickets online. TicketSource was launched in 2004 and transformed the ticket-selling opportunities for local theatre groups. As well as allowing audience members to book at any time from any location, the system streamlined the process for event organisers at no extra cost. “The ticket secretary simply listed the events on the website and logged in every now and then to see how ticket sales were going. It fixed many problems in one go.”
Rhiwbina Amateur Theatrical Society (RATS) in Cardiff was one of the first groups to sign up. “Simon was a performer and director with us,” explains Carol Coleman, Chairman. “TicketSource has been looking after our audiences ever since it was founded and we have always been delighted with the service.” As societies like RATS spread the word, TicketSource grew steadily with choirs, dance schools, festivals and small venues choosing to use the online platform for their events.
Excellent customer service has been a priority for TicketSource from the beginning. Simon encourages the recruitment of staff with personal experience of community groups, such as a choir, amateur theatre or sports club, “because they can empathise with the person on the end of the phone and understand what they’re going through when they encounter any difficulties.” Due to TicketSource’s continued commitment to friendly and professional support by email, live chat or telephone, our average customer satisfaction rating is 4.5 out of 5.
Helen Conway, Performance and Engagement Executive Officer at the Cardiff University School of Music
, began using the system in 2006 and values the high level of TicketSource’s customer service. “I’ve been rescued at least twice – TicketSource noticed a discrepancy between a concert’s start time on the website and the time listed on the ticket, and rang up to ask if we realised.”
In 2008, in response to a request from the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival
, TicketSource set up a telephone box office service. The service is free for event organisers, with a small fee applied to bookings. For Simon, establishing the telephone box office service was a natural step. “By taking telephone bookings and answering enquiries, we free up the event organiser to get on with doing what they do best. But we’re not just selling tickets – we recognise that we’re the ambassadors for these organisations.”TicketSource's Operations Manager, Emma Baudinette (front) with the company's Directors (from left) Simon Wilsher, Gavin Davidson and Alex McLauchlan
As an online business, TicketSource could be based anywhere but Simon has chosen to keep the company close to its roots in Penarth, a seaside town near Cardiff. Many of our staff, including Simon, are local residents. Although TicketSource could re-locate to premises in Cardiff or further afield, “it’s been a conscious decision to stay here. The people who work for us are the key resource and consideration, and we do what we can to make sure they’re happy. Being able to walk to the office or go home for lunch is a definite perk of the job!”
For Simon, participation in amateur theatre has given him lifelong friendships that extend far beyond the rehearsals. “It’s a great social scene, with a very diverse range of people who you might not meet day to day. That’s what has always appealed to me.” From choirs to cricket clubs, Pilates classes to pottery courses, local groups are the fabric of community life. By providing a cost-effective and easy-to-use online ticketing platform, TicketSource helps organisations to deliver events that bring communities together. As Simon explains, “it’s where we started and, fifteen years later, it’s still the core of what we do now.”