"Our overall revenue was up, but we didn't have to handle as much cash on the night of the bonfire," said Alex Walker, Manager of Collingwood Children's Farm. "I think families could get into the picnic area faster. Selling more tickets ahead of time definitely sped up entry."
Collingwood Children's Farm is a not-for-profit community resource that has provided inner Melbourne with a treasured farm experience since 1979. Situated on seven hectares of paddocks, gardens and orchards along the banks of the Yarra River, the rustic buildings and farm activities are a bucolic haven from Melbourne's bustling streets.
Visitors can milk a cow, bottle feed young lambs, help with farm chores, feed the chooks, look for eggs or just sit and unwind under a shady tree on the riverbank.
For eight years The Collingwood Children's Farm has hosted a magical Winter Solstice Bonfire that brings together more than 3,500 people for a night of lantern parades, music, fire twirling, picnicking and a huge bonfire. Prior to 2009, tickets were sold during May and June through the farm office and at the gate on the night.
"This was the first time we sold tickets online. In the past people had to come to the Farm either before the bonfire or on the night to buy their tickets," said Alex. "We didn't know what to expect by selling online, but it went really well."
Online tickets were promoted on the farm's website, in their newsletter and on a billboard outside of the farm.
"You never know how people are going to take it when you do something different," said Alex, "But at the committee meeting I was able to report that we had already sold more tickets online than we usually sold before the bonfire, so the committee's reaction was very positive."
"This year we also set up a Family Member price on TryBooking." Alex explained how members simply put their membership number when buying tickets to receive the lower member price.
In keeping with the farm's sustainable approach, ticket-takers encouraged people to reuse the paper from their pre-purchased tickets. "On the night we asked everyone to recycle their tickets as drawing paper for their children and I think they did because we only found three tickets in all the rubbish we collected after the bonfire."
"Another thing that was really great was that I could print a list of everyone who bought tickets so if anyone lost or forgot their tickets we could easily check. When people buy tickets through the Farm office we have no way to check for lost tickets and we have to depend on someone remembering the sale."
Alex found a number of other reports useful in the lead up to the bonfire, "I could easily see how many of each type of ticket we sold and I could do the financial reckoning very accurately. The figures all matched up and I could report quickly."
"I found it straightforward with no problems. I'm totally amazed at the number of sales we did online. We definitely think TryBooking is fantastic!"