29 Mar Wisconsin Film Festival embraces new online ticket ordering system
MADISON – For any fan of the Wisconsin Film Festival, waiting in line for tickets and choosing which films to see is inevitably a frustrating part of the process. However, thanks to the creation of a secure ticket-ordering system on the festival’s Web site, this year moviegoers will experience technological improvements previously unavailable. Designed by Madison-based Planet Propaganda and Internet development firm IMS, the system is designed to allow users to find their films in a manner that is both efficient and uncomplicated.
“The goals are focused on the user,” said Travis Ott, brand manager at Planet Propaganda. “[The goal is] to make the policy as streamlined as possible.”
The system builds on the wish list system designed last year, which allows increased functionality in sifting through the large collection of films offered. Users have the ability to search through categories of title, series, country, genre and screening time in order to make a choice from the 150 films and events that take place during the festival, April 1-4. With the wish list, users were given the ability to select films and store them in a database for future reference, although they still had to go to the box office for ordering.
With the new system, customers have the power to order tickets simply by submitting a credit card number and package ID through the festival’s Web site. Customers also receive up-to-date schedule information from the site, so they can be notified when a film changes times or goes on “stand by,” meaning that all advance tickets have been ordered.
The system has also proven to be beneficial to the box office staff. Since all the orders are submitted electronically, each order is in a standardized format, thus eliminating confusion in deciphering handwritten or faxed orders.
“The process deliberately incorporates a more human touch,” said Mary Carbine, festival director. “[The new system enables] staff to scan for sold out films, make recommendations and offer help to customers seeking additional assistance.”
The system has proved to be a great success so far, according to Carbine, with site traffic on the opening day up 27 percent from last year. Since the festival box office opened up March 3, the wish list system has had 1,802 registered users, 1,721 of those brand-new users. The number of users also surpassed last year’s total, 1,076 users, less than two days after the system went online.
The festival’s online orders appear to have the ability to bring in more business, as preliminary data points to increased orders from outside the Madison area, Carbine said.
“With the convenience of online ordering and the ability for users to build and store ‘wish lists’ of films in advance of ordering, we had a tremendous volume within the first five days that the Web site went live and online ordering was enabled,” Carbine said.
The site’s initial success wound up stressing the system to its limits, with orders flooding the box office very early on in the process. While the rush has since passed, a great deal of time and effort was necessary early on for ticket request processing and staff worked many hours to input data into the box office system.
“Due to the amazing response, it was all hands on deck for order processing,” Carbine added.
For next year, while no definitive plans have been made for upgrading the system, there will certainly be an analysis of the services after the festival is completed, Ott said. Members of the festival administration and Planet Propaganda representatives will cooperate in deciding how to alter the system, based on a study of ordering patterns, ticket sales and customer input. Adding immediate online order fulfillment is the next obvious step, but according to Ott its implementation would be a large and complex undertaking.
“Each year on the site it’s kind of a modular process,” Ott said on the site’s evolution. “[Right now] it’s kind of just getting through this first year.”