Creating a better ticketing experience: How we built Digital Passes for Crystal Bridges and The Momentary

Author: Kathryn Mason

Apple-Wallet-icon
G-Pay

If you’ve bought tickets for a train, flight or sporting event over the past couple of years (or more recently downloaded your NHS COVID pass), your booking confirmation screen and/or email has likely invited you to add them to your Apple or Google ‘wallet’. So why aren’t more cultural organisations doing this?

Our friends at Crystal Bridges and their sister venue The Momentary recently asked this question. So they tasked us with building digital passes for both their events tickets and memberships to make life that little bit easier for audiences visiting their venues.

Like many of our clients, Crystal Bridges use Tessitura as their ticketing & CRM system and have integrated with Tessitura’s own purchase path, TNEW. So we’ve created a solution that can be used by any organisation using TNEW. We wanted to share a little more detail around how we did it and why (we also think they look pretty smart).

Background: From E-tickets to Digital Passes

It’s no secret that tickets, vouchers, and membership cards are increasingly being offered as Apple and Google passes that can be stored on a customer’s mobile device in a ‘wallet’ application. Why?

They’re a super handy way for people to keep hold of their tickets, particularly when the business selling the tickets doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app. And while e-tickets (usually in the form of an email, or PDF attached to an email) were a good progression from the physical printed ticket, they still come with their own set of challenges. The following scenario probably sounds familiar:

You’re next in line to show your ticket in the foyer, frantically hunting through your emails trying to find the booking confirmation, which doesn’t seem to appear even when you try searching your inbox. Then your mobile signal disappears and you’re left with a blank screen and a sweaty brow.

Digital passes avoid these situations happening as they’re already stored locally on the mobile device itself and are easily retrieved regardless of whether or not you have wifi or signal.

How we did it for Crystal Bridges and The Momentary

As we touched on above, Crystal Bridges uses both Tessitura and TNEW. TNEW has recently launched a mobile e-tickets functionality that lets customers view tickets from their ‘upcoming events’ page and confirmation email. So we’ve built upon this core functionality to give users the opportunity to download these tickets directly to their Apple or Google Wallet.

Getting set up 

To get started we needed to set up developer accounts for both Apple and Google. Once we’d received access to the appropriate accounts, we could start building sample passes using the relevant development kits. This meant we could do a trial run of the passes using ‘fake’ data, with a view to have the data fields and wireframes agreed with Crystal bridges before progressing to design using real data.

Building the templates

Once everyone was happy with the sample passes, we modified the settings and assets to lay out the passes to match the wireframes we’d created, and styled them against the brand identity of Crystal Bridges and The Momentary using the appropriate logos and colours.

There are a number of ‘layout’ types that we can choose from to best fit an organisation’s needs. Handily, there’s an ‘event ticket’ type as well as a generic type for the membership card passes.

CB-Event-Ticket
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The-Momentary-Event-ticket
The-Momentary-Memership

Dynamic passes using real data

So we now had the passes looking as we wanted. And because we wanted to use the passes in a variety of use cases, we created a specific web-service that produced the passes using dynamic data from Tessitura. These use cases included:

  • TNEW order confirmation emails
  • From a user’s TNEW account section when logged in to the Crystal Bridges or Momentary websites
  • In automated Membership ‘welcome’ emails that are sent to users once they’ve bought a membership (sent via the Tessitura integrated email platform, Prospect2)

We knew we needed a service that would both generate the passes and allow users to download them, because there’s no guarantee that they’ve been generated before. The service we created can generate both tickets and memberships, and enables users to download multiple passes in one click as opposed to having to download each separately (something that can’t be done through the native Apple & Google services on all browsers).

Our web- service requests the data from Tessitura and maps this on to the pass templates. Apple passes are generated files that are stored securely in S3 (an Amazon Web Service cloud storage solution) while the Google passes create a unique link that is used to load the pass straight into the user’s wallet.

Building mechanisms for users to get their passes

We then pop the familiar Apple Wallet and Google Pay pass buttons that link to the passes into the following places:

For event tickets:

  • The TNEW ticket booking confirmation screen
  • The ‘Upcoming Events’ page in TNEW
  • The mobile tickets confirmation email
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Upcoming events page with Android Google Pay and iphone Apple Wallet buttons

Membership cards

  • In the my account section of TNEW (if the customer has a membership)
  • In the Prospect 2 Membership ‘Welcome’ emails and renewal emails

Having the buttons in all of these places means customers are given consistent prompts to download their digital passes, helping to make the feature easy to identify (and more likely taken advantage of) at multiple points throughout their journey.

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In the pipeline

We’ve got a couple of planned enhancements up our sleeve. Our future plans include:

  1. Location-aware and time/date-aware push notifications. This would enable:
    • reminders to be sent to users that are triggered close to the performance start time, or when they enter the specified radius of the building (as this information is stored on their saved pass).
    • reminders that a users membership has either expired or entered it’s renewal period (time/date triggered), with prompts on how to renew.
    • prompts that member discounts at the bar are available (again this is time or location triggered).
  2. Automatically updating passes with new information when already saved to a user’s wallet (currently the pass information is static once generated). This would mean passes can be updated with:
    • Expired membership pass messaging with a clearer “expired” note when membership lapses, or if a member defaults on monthly payments. This is useful for organisations who may not always rely on scanning membership barcodes to validate eligibility for discounts/entry etc.
    • Specific information about the venue or performance (e.g. timings, should this unexpectedly change).

Summary

We’ve really enjoyed working on such an exciting project that will improve the overall ticketing experience Crystal Bridges can offer their audiences.

It’s also been exciting to create something that can help the arts and cultural sector keep up with the latest technology and digital trends. Digital passes aren’t going away, and so we’d encourage other organisations to start thinking about introducing them as part of their ticketing experience.

 

So if you’d like to hear more about creating digital passes for your organisation, or if you have any questions, just get in touch! We’d love to have a chat about how we can help: team@substrakt.com