Port Fairy Folk Festival

Transitions Gracefully to Online Ticketing

Background

Since 1977 thousands of music fans have spent their Labour Day weekend in the picturesque town of Port Fairy enjoying the world famous Port Fairy Folk Festival. Running over four days, the festival hosts more than 500 international, national and regional performers as well as workshops, classes, and theatrical productions. The charming Victorian seaside town comes alive with street markets, craft fairs, food fairs and street performances. The event has become an annual pilgrimage for more than 35,000 Australians and is always sold-out.

Until 2011, the Port Fairy Folk Festival was ticketed by a mail order system. Tickets were requested by sending a form or by phoning the office. Once allocated, on a first-in basis, tickets were posted out. The process was very time consuming for event organisers and meant long queues at the festival while tickets were validated and entry wristbands were distributed.

The Change

In search of a way to improve efficiency, ticket administration and lower costs, Ian Wood, the Port Fairy Folk Festival committee member in charge of ticketing, contacted TryBooking. "Up to 2011, we ticketed via phone and post, which worked well, but was very time consuming for our largely volunteer based administration. We also incurred the expenses of printing and mailing tickets.

"Whilst not abandoning phone and mail booking, we decided to extend the options to include online ticketing. We selected TryBooking for a few simple reasons:

  1. Their experience and track record in online ticketing is exceptional
  2. Our compatibility with their personnel, and our confidence in their commitment and ability to perform
  3. TryBooking is less costly than the competitors
  4. We retained complete control over our customer database
  5. The total flexibility in tenure - there is no fixed contractual period or 'small print' conditions."

Tickets, with an unique barcode, were simply self-printed at the time of purchase, eliminating the need for festival organisers to pay for costly ticket printing and postage. At the festival, TryBooking's ticket scanning software, GateKeeper, was employed to quickly and securely admit ticket holders into the venue. "GateKeeper was both user-friendly and secure. We were happy that the security screens and the software both minimised our exposure to fraud, and significantly sped up entry for ticket holders. We scanned over 10,000 tickets on the first day without any problems - enough said!" enthused Ian.

Not only were entry queues drastically cut, GateKeeper also provided the festival organisers with an instant and accurate record of how many tickets had been presented and how many were still to come each day.

Conclusion

How did Port Fairy Folk Festival patrons take to their first year of online booking? "We had virtually no complaints about the purchase process, and ticket holders were very happy with the faster entry speed and the lack of queues at the festival gates.

"We found that 85% of attendees preferred to book online! An 85% acceptance rate in year-1 speaks for itself, and our post-festival survey indicates that we can expect 90-95% online bookings in 2012," continued Ian.

"Looking ahead, I realise we are still on a learning curve before we are taking full advantage of all the potential uses of our new email database. There are so many reports and tools we haven't even used yet. We may have a lot to learn, but I'm comforted by the relationship we have established with TryBooking and have complete confidence in their ability to support us as we move forward.

"2012 will be a consolidation year for us and after that I look forward to venturing into the new areas that such advanced online ticketing technology can provide us.

"The success of our transition to online ticketing this year has guaranteed TryBooking's ongoing role with us. The vast majority of our committee (even those with some initial doubts or concerns) and our patrons are now convinced. The Port Fairy Folk Festival is a happy convert!"

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