Ticket system to save money

The University will sell athletics tickets via a new Web-based ticketing system.

Tiff Clements

Hole-punched season tickets might be headed toward extinction.

Soon University students, staff and event-goers will be able to purchase tickets to athletics and arts events online and in person through one on-campus system, possibly using U Cards instead of traditional tickets.

The University unveiled a $300,000 Web-based ticketing system in the Arts Ticket Office in January as an initial test run. The new software will go online for the Duluth campus’ fine arts performances in April and debut in the athletics department in June.

Advertising junior V.P. Yang, who works in the Arts Ticket Office, said he has seen a smooth shift to the new system.

“This one is a lot easier to navigate around,” he said. “(The transition has) been pretty easy.”

Yang said he’s happy to work with the new software apart from a few small features he misses from the old system.

Project manager Andy Hill said the new system has worked as planned despite a few minor problems.

He said the decision to launch the ticketing software in arts before athletics was based on the volume of tickets sold out of each office annually – more than 1 million in athletics and only about 120,000 in arts events.

“We want to make sure we have our systems ready before we open them in athletics,” Hill said.

Athletics ticket office manager Dan Teschke said the new software will go online in athletics during the summer, the department’s least active season.

He said the new system should allow the ticket office to verify a student’s status via the Internet. Currently, a student must purchase tickets in person and present a U Card to verify his or her identity.

“Now we can enable students to buy more stuff online and get the discounts they’re entitled to,” Teschke said.

The University purchased the ticketing software system from Toronto-based AudienceView.

Vice president of marketing for AudienceView Alan Kriss said his company is unique in the ticketing industry.

“We don’t do ticketing ourselves,” he said. “We just sell software and we allow the companies that use our software to maintain their own sales.”

Kriss said cutting out a third-party ticket seller means that the University will be able to control its ticket prices and service charges.

“With our software in hand a company can maintain all of the revenues associated with ticket sales and service charges as opposed to paying those out to another organization,” he said.

Lincoln Kallsen, director of financial research and sponsor of the project, said the computer program will operate on University servers and is a one-time investment.

He said the new program is more expensive than the University’s old arts and athletics ticketing systems, which were subcontracted separately to three outside companies.

“The costs are a little bit higher but the sophistication is much greater,” Kallsen said.

The program will also integrate with other campus-wide software systems.

“For example, as you register for classes you might see a little pop-up window that says, ‘Would you like to buy season football tickets?'” Kallsen said.

The ticketing software is compatible with systems like PeopleSoft, the University’s main system for student and staff personal information storage. The software might eventually allow students to use U Cards as tickets, scanning them at event sites, though Kallsen said the University would need to purchase scanning hardware for entrance gates.

Hill said that compatibility will help University ticketing create profiles of their customers and learn what sporting events and arts performances they are attending.

“Our goal is to have one view of our university customer,” he said.

According to Hill, creating a uniform profile of customers and their entertainment preferences will help the University streamline ticketing operations and cut down on the costs of things like marketing flyers.

The new system also creates the possibility of a single on-campus box office, phone number and Web site.