TicketSource is a free online ticketing and box office management system. It was launched in February 2004, and since then, has been used by over 13,000 event organisers and venues of all shapes and sizes. throughout the UK. In 2014, shortly after celebrating our 10th anniversary, we also made the service available in the USA and the Eurozone.
In early 2004 Simon Wilsher, Gavin Davidson and Alexander McLauchlan were all directors of Source Insurance Ltd - a leading producer of insurance comparison sites. All three were also involved with theatre and the arts in one capacity or another and one day the conversation turned to the limited options for online ticketing. There were already a range of subscription-based online box office solutions available, but they were expensive, and the free packages of the day were not much more than online shopping baskets. To set up and modify event listings typically required that users request changes to be made by the system provider via their call centre or by email, and then wait for those requests to be actioned. So the idea was born to use the same technologies that they were already applying to the insurance industry to create a free, self-service ticketing system that would give users full and instant control of their events online 24/7, while rivaling the leading paid-for box office software in functionality and fully integrating in-house and online bookings.
When TicketSource was launched in February 2004, we became the first free system to offer a choice of general admission tickets or allocated seating via an onscreen seating plan from which customers could select their own seats; a choice of e-tickets, mobile tickets and thermal printed tickets; an integrated barcode scanning app to turn any smartphone into an on-the-door ticket scanner with real-time ticket validation against the event sales database; a direct-from-Facebook TicketShop app and dozens of self-managed automated discount options... all fully controllable online 24/7, even by event organisers with multiple administrators in multiple locations.
In the years since then, our development team has successfully maintained a technical advantage by adopting new cloud-based technologies to transform that box office system into a multi-platform event marketing and audience management system. TicketSource users now have a range of customer database management and analysis tools at their disposal, and our integration with Mailchimp makes it easy for them to execute highly professional and Data Protection Act compliant email marketing campaigns. The TicketSource system even automatically tweets details of users’ events and uploads them to syndicated event listings sites such as Eventful, Ents24 and TheList.
For all its sophistication though, it still only takes a few minutes for new users to create an account, set up an online box office; customise it with their logo, brand colors and images; link it to (or embed it within) their website and social media, and choose how many of the available ticket format options to enable.
We have achieved all this while still maintaining lower customer booking fees than all our major competitors. From the outset, our goal has been to make just enough profit to be a viable business that can sustain top notch customer service, ongoing system development and best practice system security measures, while remaining as competitive as possible for users. In fact in recent years we have further reduced our fees as the economics of the growing business allowed, and as of last year, have even let event organisers and venues plug in their own Stripe accounts in order to make further savings on their card payment processing fees.
So far, this philosophy is working out well, with "word of mouth" and "referrals by other event organisers" being by far our biggest source of new users.