Swansea Grand Theatre improves user accessibility and event revenue with new website
A new website - including critical Spektrix box office platform integration - has empowered Swansea Grand Theatre to improve customer satisfaction and boost ticket revenue.
Once home to the UK's only Russian ballet company, Swansea Grand Theatre is maintained and operated by Swansea Council. Since it opened in 1897, the venue has played host to some of the biggest touring acts in performing arts, comedy, and music.
The challenge: A confusing website with limited dual language capabilities
For live performance venues, an easy-to-use website that helps customers buy event tickets in as few steps as possible is critical to maximising sales, and even attracting a wider range of acts to perform. And Swansea Grand Theatre is no different.
But with confusing website navigation and unclear calls to action, combined with a complex third-party box office platform integration that caused event duplications and significant customer frustration, the theatre's Web Development Manager realised it was time for change.
"Rather than having its own domain, our old website was hidden on Swansea Council's website. The problem was affecting our ticket sales and discouraged some promoters from putting acts on at the theatre", explains Liz Shellard, Web Development Manager, Swansea Council.
Website users also found it difficult to switch between Welsh and English, key criteria of the Welsh Government's Welsh language standards for digital accessibility. Swansea Grand Theatre needed a new website that would help provide easy customer accessibility, automatic content updates, complete dual language capabilities, and greater income generation opportunities for the theatre.
The solution: An easy-to-use, engaging website with seamless third-party platform integration
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and East Renfrewshire Council both needed to quickly deploy a digital booking system to support their HRCs. However, developing a system that would solve their unique challenges quickly would require extensive development resources that neither council could spare.
Initially, both councils started managing HRC bookings on their own, with East Renfrewshire Council using an alternative booking application, while Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council relied on a manual system to book citizens into its HRCs.
Both councils found their solutions couldn't provide the scale or speed needed to meet demand from their citizens. They turned to GOSS to deploy a booking system built around local government best practices and standards that could handle the load, and start delivering an immediate impact. As both councils were already using GOSS solutions, they could quickly build a bookings application and use data stored in their existing GOSS solutions.
"While we have developers in house, their time was already committed to other projects. And this was a case where we needed a proof of concept spun up quickly," explains Graeme McWilliams, ICT Solutions Manager at East Renfrewshire Council. "Knowing GOSS could quickly take a solution off the shelf but then tailor it to our needs made it an easy choice for us. We discussed our requirements with them one Friday, and by the start of the next week they had a working demo for us."
For Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, their need for rapid development was accompanied by concerns around project risk. "This was a high-profile project. With so much pressure on HRCs, we couldn't risk this system failing and having to close sites again," says Sean Kearney, Transformation Projects Officer at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. "We'd used GOSS for waste services booking applications in the past, and knew they'd be able to deliver."
The two councils already used GOSS SelfServe to host digital self service portals for citizens, and added GOSS Bookings to host their new HRC booking applications. With a full booking solution customised to their particular needs, the councils have been able to safely meet demand for HRCs - and deliver additional time and cost-saving benefits.
After the initial rollout of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council's booking application, GOSS updated the solution to include features for validating residents as they attend the O'Neill Road HRC. The GOSS Bookings solution asks users for their postcode and ensures they match with the council's database. Then, team members at the HRC can check visitors in on a tablet, cross-referencing license plates against a vehicle registration database to ensure they're Antrim and Newtownabbey residents.
The results: A significant rise in box office sales and customer satisfaction
Aside from the theatre's website no longer being hidden in the main Swansea Council site, customers will also notice immediate accessibility and design improvements compared to the old website. With upcoming event listings front and centre, and clear calls to action, customers can now find out more about shows they're interested in and buy tickets in just a few clicks.
And because the website is optimised for mobile, users can expect the same levels of accessibility and dual-language options on their phones as they would on any other device. Combined with seamless redirects from the council website and an unaffected search engine ranking, the changes have helped Swansea Grand Theatre attract a wider range of people to the venue, more easily.
"The whole project has been highly collaborative, with regular meetings at each stage to ensure everyone is on the same page. The new website makes my life much simpler and allows us to develop new products rapidly", says Shellard.
With Welsh language standards firmly catered for, council leaders have also achieved a key social inclusion goal, part of the culture cabinet's overall strategic agenda.
"Everyone's delighted with the new website. We did a lot of user testing after we pushed live to ensure the functionality and information architecture were working properly, and check the security certifications. And because we're using real-world insight to guide changes rather than gut feelings, it's also helped us optimise the customer experience."
Shellard and her team are now taking greater advantage of web analytics to monitor traffic and bounce rates - meaning they can make changes on the fly if the data supports their hypothesis. For most websites, higher page views are a positive thing. But for Swansea Grand Theatre, the fewer pages people look at, the easier they find it to navigate - a factor that's confirmed by the theatre's analytics data.
Following a year of nationwide lockdowns, the future already looks very bright for Swansea Grand Theatre, and the wider industry's swift recovery. "A day after the website went live, our box office manager reported more sales in one day than for the entire previous month. This, combined with positive customer feedback, shows that customers find the new site much easier to use - giving us a much-needed revenue boost, too", says Shellard.
"A day after the website went live, our box office manager reported more sales in one day than for the entire previous month. This, combined with positive customer feedback, shows that customers find the new site much easier to use - giving us a much-needed revenue boost, too."
Liz Shellard, Web Development Manager