Hard as it is to believe, a decade ago, most performing arts venues took the old pen-and-paper route to handle ticket sales. One such organization making the transition to online ticket sales resides in Plano outside of Dallas, Texas. North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA) started with ThunderTix in 2017 and with the efficiencies of online processing, they both reduced staff time and increased revenues.
First, let's give you a little backstory. NTPA provides young actors with their first big break via roughly 150 productions and 1,000 performances across more than a dozen venues annually. With a permanent staff of 24 members, NTPA relies heavily on volunteers to help run events.
NTPA shared that after switching to ThunderTix, they could reduce demands on volunteer staff time, save money, and, most importantly, grow their business! Not only that, but ThunderTix’s fast pivot during COVID gave NTPA the tools to weather the storm.
Lauren Boykin, VP of Sales and Marketing at NTPA, stated, “In 2016, we were doing paper tickets. Cutting them and handing them out. [ThunderTix] was a massive upgrade. [The switch] was instantly received well by families and staff. It also greatly cut down on the amount of paper used and manpower needed, which was huge.”
Being a children’s theater, another time-saving feature they love lies in the ability for patrons to exchange their own tickets. Boykin shared, “We have tons [of exchanges because] families are constantly changing [performance dates] based on baseball games or whatever….”
All of the time-saving features offered through ThunderTix saved the organization money too! According to Boykin, “[NTPA] offered volunteer scholarships for positions [like] ticketing. Before ThunderTix, we did a 100% scholarship, but because of the features that ThunderTix offers and how easy it has made the job for ticket coordinators, it has cut down volunteer time for us.” The reduction in hours enabled NTPA to save money through reductions in the scholarship program” Boykin added, “We save $175 on every production.” With over 150 productions, that’s a lot of savings!
The performing arts, like any branch of the event industry, were hit hard during COVID. ThunderTix made a quick pivot to support organizations like NTPA.
Boykin stated that ThunderTix’s COVID pivot – referring to the first-in-the-nation implementation of automated social distancing – was “essential - specifically the introduction of social distance seating. [It was] impeccable.”
Another feature that Boykin has enjoyed since the onset of COVID is the bulk refund option that prevented the organization from having to perform hours of manual refunds due to illness. In addition, they appreciated the ability to convert refunds to a gift cards allowing them to retain revenue when those cancellations occurred. Generosity was on display during Covid, and the invitation to “round-up” donations during the patron checkout process is still utilized today, helping to ease fundraising efforts.
Finally, the Covid-inspired Zapier integration with Zoom allowed performances to be viewed from anywhere from the safety of the couch. This was especially important to grandparents to tune in and watch performances across significant distances.
Not only did the switch to ThunderTix save NTPA time and money, but Boykin elaborated, “It was essential for us to find a software dedicated to the performing arts to allow us to expand our business.”
Before switching to ThunderTix, NTPA was only hosting events at a single venue. Since making the jump, NTPA is now able to host a combination of reserved seating and general admission events in over 12 venues ranging from 100-seats up to 1,400-seats!
ThunderTix recently built a new feature that improved upon NTPA’s multi-venue business model by enabling the organization to create and sell season packages across the different venues despite having varying seating charts and capacities. Boykin exclaimed, “Being able to offer a season ticket for families going to different venues will be huge. We did a workaround before that. This is going to make it even smoother for patrons.”
The benefits are two-fold: season packages bring in revenue before seasons begin. Further, organizations can monitor early pre-sales and determine if performances need to move to smaller or larger venues – a plus for multi-venue performing arts centers.
Another big piece of the NTPA business model is being a nonprofit. The ability to give away free tickets to the community is paramount. Boykin shared that before ThunderTix, NTPA was relying on the honor system so they could offer free tickets. With ThunderTix, they are able to mass-create coupons through a bulk upload so that each family receives a coupon code valid for a specified number of redemptions. Reporting makes oversight easy. Boykin shared that “The flexibility around coupons has enabled the business to grow to the next level.”
After over five years with their new platform, NTPA is an active participant in ThunderTix’s feature request forum – a democratic sharing and voting of ideas that helps guide the product roadmap and future benefits that immediately benefit the performing arts.
The switch has brought NTPA greater functionality, reduced time spent on ticketing, saved dollars on scholarships, and boosted revenue through season packages, donations, gift cards, and the expansion of their business. Boykin left off by comparing online versus the old pen-and-paper model “the difference is night and day.”
It is safe to say that NTPA is delighted with its choice of ticketing software. Boykin shared that “We get calls from other ticketing providers, and we tell them, 'No'.”
There are many features throughout ThunderTix that help theatres save time, increase ticket sales, gain and retain donors and much more. NTPA loves the features ThunderTix has to offer and has found the below features to be critical in their use of box office software.