An ArtsProfessional feature sponsored by Red61

Meet your customers’ expectations of mobile responsiveness and you will be rewarded with loyalty. David Wright profiles two arts organisations that are getting it right. 

Photo of the Udderbelly venue

Kim Traynor (Own work) (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

As customers continue to embrace mobile technology, it is becoming more important to ensure that your box office is sufficiently versatile and adaptable to meet their expectations.

Being mobile responsive creates a challenge for both not-for-profit and commercial arts organisations. Pressure on them to deliver a tailored dialogue with customers is growing, while restrictions on their time and resources are tightening.

The question is, how can we face these challenges successfully and what lessons can we learn from organisations that have adopted mobile?

The rise of mobile

The Fringe has built a custom app that effectively gives visitors a box office in their pocket

The use of mobile to access media and services is on the rise. Mobile access to the internet officially overtook fixed internet access in 2014 and it is now the preferred touch-point for interactions with customers in almost all situations. With significant improvements in mobile rendering of internet sites, mobile is fast becoming the place where we make purchases.

It’s not just about services adapting to mobile; new mobile services like transport-app Uber are reshaping traditional sectors. But with the different operating systems and choice of dedicated apps or mobile responsive websites, choosing the right mobile solution can seem daunting and expensive.

A well-designed responsive website can provide a good starting point for developing your mobile offering, but at what point do you invest in an app? Let’s look at the experience of a couple of successful arts organisations and the approach that they took.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Fringe has invested in mobile to ensure that the customer experience is the foundation of all their activities and resources. The largest arts festival in the world has used Red61’s VIA solution to open more sales channels, offering increased choice and access points for their customers.

Using the VIA API, The Fringe is ensuring its web offerings are mobile responsive. It has built a custom app that effectively gives visitors a box office in their pocket: it helps visitors choose their own criteria for searching for a performance – whether by location, time of event, genre, venue, artist, etc. – and then book their tickets through the app.

Ticket sales through the Fringe App rose by over 60% from 2014 to 2015 – a phenomenal return on The Fringe’s investment in mobile, which also illustrates the importance of mobile to consumers.

Working with The Fringe, our mobile solution has been designed to be optimised for venues and site-specific theatre and events of all shapes and sizes, from being the sole box office solution to offering additional cost effective sales channels for larger well-established venues. Red61’s mobile suite is developed to be fast, functionally rich, and effective:

  • weeVIA offers full box office functionality through a tablet, anywhere, using contactless technologies to ensure speedy and efficient transactions. It offers flexibility and opportunities to provide additional revenue through new sales channels.
  • VIA Access Control, also known as our FOH app, connects customers’ technology with the box office, enabling access to your venue as well as tickets to be sold on the door through a smartphone. It starts to build a stronger picture of your customers’ behaviour and interaction with your venue.
  • VIA DataCube offers reporting and data analytics that provide real-time information about who’s in the audience. The simple drag and drop interface through a web browser ensures you can produce reports and graphs utilising all the data held within your ticketing system.

The mixture of these three elements puts clients in the best position to deal with the delivery of events at the same time as building a comprehensive picture of their audience.


In recent years there has been a rise in the number of new players building their own venues suitable for the scale and tech requirements of their shows.

Underbelly are a great example of a fresh, vibrant and dynamic production company, renowned for their iconic venue – the upturned purple cow – and eclectic productions across the UK and Asia. Using mobile to grow revenues and improve customer interactions has been a key strategy for them, and provides a great illustration of how a box office can evolve in response to customer insights and trends.

Their mobile optimised website helps customers find out where, what and when shows are on, ensuring they include the most relevant and specific information for each event. They have also gone ticketless on several projects utilising VIA’s mobile solution to maximise their reach to potential audiences and improve the customer experience.

Underbelly have further raised the bar by initiating VIA to integrate with their hospitality suite, providing a single centralised point of sale for hospitality, tickets and merchandise. This, linked with VIA DataCube, enables them to take a targeted approach to marketing, based on a 360 degree view of their customers.

Mobile offers an opportunity for arts organisations to improve the connection they have with their customers, understand customer behaviour and grow revenues. As a systems provider, Red61 strives to ensure our solution offers the best fit for the organisations we work with. In meeting their customers’ expectations of full mobile access to events, these organisations can not only generate additional revenues, but also ensure that they are developing a responsive approach that will enhance customer satisfaction and build long-term loyalty.

David Wright is Business Development Manager for Red61.

This article, part of the Making the Most of the Box Office feature, is sponsored by Red61.

To find out more, come along to Red61’s Edinburgh Fringe Open Days, where we will detail all the elements that enable the Fringe to flourish. RSVP your spot on 12, 17 or 24 August 2016 by emailing or signing up online.

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Photo of David Wright