Audience1st is a zero-installation, zero-maintenance, open-source, all-in-one system for ticketing, subscriptions, development, and backoffice functions, designed expressly for the needs, budgets and constraints of small to medium community theaters.
The FAQs below may help you decide if Audience1st is right for your venue. A detailed user’s guide is available here.
Audience1st is open source, and you can use it royalty-free. You can either have your IT person deploy it, or pay me to host it for you.
More than a ticketing system
Audience1st is a way to help build the “community” around a community theater. According to Theatre Communications Group’s TheatreFacts reports, most small nonprofit theaters rely on donations for up to half of their operating budget. That means that selling a ticket to a customer is just the beginning of your relationship with that customer – you need to turn discount buyers into full-price buyers, then into repeat buyers, then into subscribers, and ultimately into donors and supporters. Yet most low-cost third-party ticketing solutions stop at just that—ticket sales—with no mechanisms to help you manage this lifecycle, in which ticket-buying is just the first step.
How is Audience1st different?
Audience1st integrates your own ticket sales, third-party ticket sales (such as Tix Bay Area half-price tickets and Goldstar Events™), box office reports, calendar, up-to-the-minute ticket availability information (which can be easily displayed on your own web site), attendance statistics, donor management and followup, online donations, and support for email marketing campaigns, all in one Web-based system. There’s no software to install or maintain–eveything works from your Web browser.
Who can benefit?
Audience1st was developed specifically for the needs of nonprofit community performing-arts organizations, with extensive functions for donor tracking and email campaigns integrated with ticket sales and box office operations, integration with social networking such as Facebook, streamlined user interfaces that are easy for your volunteers to learn (the box office agent’s user interface closely follows the patron user interface, so your patrons can easily become volunteer box office agents), and a high degree of automation around ticket sales, phone-based information and sales, reporting/bookkeeping, and box office management, to minimize human resources needed on your end.
I already have a ticketing solution—why would I need Audience1st?
If all you do is sell tickets, you’re probably set; but if you care about tracking your donors, building up a subscriber base, and connecting all of your patron-related functions together, you should ask what support your existing ticketing solution offers. Even if you continue to use your existing solutions for ticketing, Audience1st can import that information and tie it to your patron-building activities.
- Patron convenience: Patrons can buy or reserve online, or your phone staff can easily enter phone orders. Patrons or staff can then track their reservations and purchases all in one place, from any Web browser, and get automatic email confirmations whenever reservations are made or cancelled.
- Front of house integration: A separate streamlined GUI lets you sell “walk-up” tickets at the box office, by cash, check, or a USB-attached card swipe device.
- Subscriptions: Create and sell virtually any combination of tickets imaginable as a subscription; easily identify subscribers on all reports and give them exclusive or advance access to certain tickets.
- Integrate with your Web site: Match your Web site’s look and feel using CSS. Display real-time ticket availability info or an up-to-date performance calendar on your website.
- Donor & prospect management: Track donors, donations, and acknowledgment letters.
- Email integration: Integrated with MailChimp™ email marketing service; integration with ConstantContact™ coming soon. Or export custom reports to Excel™, CSV or XML format for use with your in-house mailing list system.
- Credit card processing using Stripe, the seamless, no-hassle, economical credit card processing solution. Setting up a Stripe account is free, takes minutes and requires no lengthy paperwork, and will allow your patrons to pay using Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Diners Club, Discover or JCB. Stripe charges 2.9%+30 cents per transaction, period, no matter what credit card is used, and all your proceeds are automatically swept daily into your regular business bank account. There are no setup fees, monthly fees, processing minimums, or any other expenses whatsoever related to credit card processing.
- Import historical data–mailing lists and customer lists–in Excel format. Import will-call lists from popular third-party ticketing services like Goldstar and Brown Paper Tickets.
- Export mailing lists and labels to Excel or directly to email marketing services like Mailchimp.
- Sell course enrollments and retail items (swag, raffle tickets, etc.) as well as tickets.
- Sell virtually any kind of subscription: one ticket per production, flex passes, matinee-only or preview-only passes, offer special prices for students or artists, etc.
- Ability to give subscribers exclusive or advance access to certain tickets before general public gets them.
- Display real-time ticket availability on your theater’s main web site via an RSS feed. (Most popular website content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal have an RSS widget that can be configured to display this information somewhere on your front page.)
Limitations, or Reasons Not to Use Audience1st
- Can Audience1st send large amounts of email (for example, to advertise a show to our customers)?
- No, though it does integrate with MailChimp (an email-list-blast service) and (soon) could easily integrate with ConstantContact (similar service). The reason for this deliberate choice is that sending “blast” emails does not work: spam filters are very, very aggressive, CAN-SPAM laws are strict, and the only chance for an email to get through to lots of people is if it is sent by a reputable and well managed email list service. MailChimp and ConstantContact are probably the two most popular, though others exist.
- What about reserved seating?
- Currently Audience1st handles only general/unreserved seating.