TicketSource, the online ticketing platform, is celebrating fifteen years of bringing communities together. Still based in the Welsh seaside town where it began, TicketSource has grown from a tiny tech start-up to a well-established online business, handling £40 million in ticket sales for almost 90,000 events each year.
TicketSource started with “a lightbulb moment” for Simon Wilsher, founder and CEO. With a passion for amateur theatre alongside his interest in software development, Wilsher discovered that amateur theatre groups struggled with the same ticketing issues.
“Selling tickets was key to the success of a production, and the future of the organisation, but it was a job that nobody wanted. You’d have a very reluctant ticket secretary, who you could buy tickets from at rehearsals or try and catch on their home phone number. It was very hit and miss.”
Wilsher brought his two interests together and developed a solution enabling people to book tickets online. TicketSource launched in 2004 and transformed the ticket-selling opportunities for local theatre groups. As well as allowing audience members to book at any time from any location, the system streamlined the process for event organisers at no extra cost.
Rhiwbina Amateur Theatrical Society (RATS) in Cardiff was one of the first groups to sign up. “Simon was a performer and director with us,” explained Carol Coleman, Chairman. “TicketSource has been looking after our audiences ever since it was founded and we have always been delighted with the service.”
Excellent customer service has been a priority for TicketSource from the beginning. Wilsher encouraged the recruitment of staff with personal experience of community groups, such as a choir, amateur theatre or sports club, “because they can empathise with the person on the end of the phone and understand what they’re going through when they encounter any difficulties.”
Due to TicketSource’s continued commitment to friendly and professional support by email, live chat or telephone, the average customer satisfaction rating is 4.5 out of 5.
In 2008, in response to a request from the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival, TicketSource set up a telephone box office service. The service is free for event organisers, with a small fee applied to bookings. “By taking telephone bookings and answering enquiries, we free up the event organiser to get on with doing what they do best,” explained Wilsher. “But we’re not just selling tickets – we recognise that we’re the ambassadors for these organisations.”
As an online business, TicketSource could be based anywhere but has chosen to keep close to its roots in Penarth, a seaside town near Cardiff, where many staff are local residents.
“The people who work for us are the key resource and consideration,” said Wilsher, “and we do what we can to make sure they’re happy. Being able to walk to the office or go home for lunch is a definite perk of the job!”
For Wilsher, participation in amateur theatre has given him lifelong friendships that extend far beyond the rehearsals. From choirs to cricket clubs, Pilates classes to pottery courses, local groups are the fabric of community life. By providing a cost-effective and easy-to-use online ticketing platform, TicketSource helps organisations to deliver events that bring communities together.
“It’s where we started,” said Wilsher, “and, fifteen years later, it’s still the core of what we do now.”