Listening to customers and potential customers alike drove our development in 2016. Although we have been pretty good at listing, or at least I think we are, we are not good at talking about our accomplishments. Because of this we have not formally introduced any of our features throughout the year. The features that I have highlighted from our development board are:
Wait Lists for events allowing attendees to put their name on the wait list letting the organizers that they are interested in the sold out event.
Event Point of Sale or event POS. Which allows organizers to capture attendee’s information and payments at the door. Enabling the organization to manage all of their attendees and events one system online and in person.
Online store. Many organizations have either artwork or branded merchandise that they sell. The online store feature or products allows the organization to sell these items in an online store. This has been used in various ways to accomplish sales from private party packages to fine art.
External discount codes or imported codes allow organizers the ability to import codes from services like Groupon, Living Social or discounts from a previous ticketing system. Using the discount system that we already had in place, we were able to apply all of specific limitations to the codes and more importantly report on all discounts.
The Calendar Widget allows organizers to use our calendar functionality and keep their existing website or display upcoming events throughout any website. The calendar widget can also be used within Facebook to have a tab on your business page for your calendar.
In March, we also created the ability to export a list of all customers so organizers can take advantage of other marketing systems such as email marketing.
Event Capacity was introduced which allowed an organization to set a limit of the total number of tickets that are sold. This gave additional granularity to the number of tickets sold for an event regardless of the tickets, and ticket pricing, for the event.
Site Maps are a way to tell search engines what content exists within the site and all the pages that they should index. This is crucial for search engine indexing therefore an invaluable tool aiding in SEO. The site maps are automatically generated and updated.
BI Reporting is something that, as a company, we have a lot of experience with. Taking this experience, we created a set of base reports giving organizers greater insights into their events and revenue.
What you see is what you get editors can be a great tool but they can also be a major pain to use. The open source editor that we had previously been using was okay, but there were a lot of limitations that we were running into along with random features not working. After a long search, we settled on a new editor and introduced it throughout the platform.
As important as site maps is a little file named robots.txt. This file has been around for decades telling search engines what places of websites to search and what places not to. It also tells the search engine where their bots can find the sitemap file. Making this file automatically for all of our customers ended up being a little more difficult than we had originally thought, but we got all of the kinks worked out and fully released in May.
Some events need to know the names of all of their attendees for things like badges or seating arrangements. So we introduced a way to capture this information if there is one person buying tickets for a group of people. The Additional Attendees form automatically shows up in the checkout process giving the purchaser the ability to provide this information.
Private events are a great source of business, however, they can lead to a sparse looking event calendar. Furthermore, if an organization needs to collect payments from the attendees they don’t always want to have all of the event information displayed. So the private events system was expanded from just hiding the event from the calendar to a set of tools giving visibility yet still providing privacy.
There is a standardized calendar file, ics, that provides calendar software with everything they need to store an event/appointment. This file is automatically generated and included with every event purchase. Most email software, Outlook to Gmail, will pick out this file and give attendees the ability to add the event to their calendars. Additionally, there is the ability for the organizers to download all of their events in a month as a single ics file which gives them the ability to import into any calendar that reads this file type.
Printable Calendars. Sometimes you just need to have a paper copy. The printable/downloadable calendar feature provides the calendar in a PDF format for printing or other needs.
Loyalty Program is one of the two big features that we worked on during the year. So much so that there will be another article specifically about the development of our loyalty program. The loyalty programs biggest attraction is that is housed within the platform so there is no integration that needs to take place.
Personalized messaging is more than just the home page. We created a new template system allowing organizations to customize the templates that are used for emails to gift certificates.
Return Fees. A lot of organizations allow returns but with a small fee collected. During the return process, there is now a place to set what the return fee is for that transaction. Since the returns can only be done by the administrators, they have the ability to set the return fee whether it is zero or some other combination.
Gift certificates have proven to be a great revenue resource for our organizations. To make gift certificates more attractive we added two new features. A Buy One Get One Free and the ability to set the purchase and redemption values. The BOGO certificates are truly a two for the price of one including two separate gift certificate vouchers. The redemption and purchase values allows organizers to have a special gift certificate promotion however and whenever they want.
Photo galleries and sliders are something that all of the organizations on our platform have. To make these features easier we created a management system that gives even the novice user the ability to add and edit images.
While interacting with the sliders and galleries, we found the need to organize the media that is stored within the organization. The media manager was a basic but effective system of viewing, adding and removing media. But the ability to categorize and organize these files was very lacking. By adding the ability to add folders to the existing system, we took a tool that got the job done to a way to easily store and manage images throughout the site.
While working in the media system, we added automatic image sizing for photos that are used throughout the platform. Although a feature which is not necessarily noticed or interacted with, it has had a tremendous performance impact for some sites. Specifically sites which use event images taken directly from cameras. The image file sizes went from 3-4mb down to 10kb and 100kb. The biggest improvements that we saw was with people who were browsing the sites on their mobile device.
We created the ability to prepare an event and delay the date which it is published by the addition of a publish date within the event editing system. This can be helpful when an organization is scheduling a particular class throughout a quarter or even an entire year. We have also seen this used to give an organization multiple days to prepare an entire month’s calendar and have all of the events published at the same date and time.
With the loyalty program, we found that a single organization can send tens of thousands of emails out when sending out the loyalty statuses. To keep the platform’s mail systems reputation as high as possible, we created a way for these organizations to add their own send grid account. Send grid is the mail delivery system that we use for transactional emails. Keeping our reputation high is necessary to ensure attendees receive their order confirmations among many other emails that are generated by the platform.
The event point of sale had proven to be a tool that was getting more and more use. A missing feature was the ability for administrators to apply a discount code during the POS process. Since many organizations use discounts codes in conjunction with services like Groupon and Living Social, the need to accept these codes either over the phone or in person is something that was necessary.
Via a direct request from a customer who was expanding into a new market we released a large set of functionality based around events that are ongoing. The specific event vertical that these features were created for are Escape Rooms. From an event organizer’s view, rooms are looked at as events which are reoccurring on a scheduled. In addition to the need of scheduling events, there were many additional facets that needed to be addressed. These included picking date and time by the attendee purchasing tickets, assigning specific tickets to time slots, overriding scheduled times (organizers need holidays too) and many other complications we found along the way. Stay tuned for a future post where I discuss these features and more surrounding our approach to ongoing events.
For event planning and more, we added the ability to include multiple instructors in an event. Aside from giving the organization the ability to display multiple instructors it also gives the instructors the ability see when they’re scheduled.
Issue gift certificates without taking payment for the gift certificate. With batch gift certificate creation administrators can issue one or hundreds of gift certificates. These batches can be used to create a single gift certificate to donate to a local charity or a thousand gift certificates to be sold at the local warehouse club.
Instructor enhancements. When instructors have been added they are assigned an instructor role. This role grants the instructor permissions to view and check in attendees for the events that they are instructing. And of course, administrators can override these roles. Instructor reminder email can be scheduled X hours before the start of an event. Instructors can be added and removed from multiple events using the event instructor scheduling feature on the admin event list.
Customer details have been improved giving administrators quicker insight into their customers and behavior. Key Performance Indicators, KPI’s, have been added to the customer profiles. Administrators can add notes on customers that only administrators have access to. If a customer is unique to the organization, the administrator has the ability to update the attendees account.
Returns as customer credit. In the return process, there is now the ability to return the order as store credit. This works just like a normal return processes except a credit is issued to the customer. An email is automatically generated and sent to the customer upon the return.
Field masking is a way to change specific wording used throughout the platform into something more relevant for the organization. For example, if you run classes and don’t want to use the word events you can change events into classes and event into class.
The shopping cart widget now displays the number of items that the user has in their shopping cart. When the user opens the shopping cart widget a listing of the item in their cart is displayed.