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March, 2023

The Best Museum Ticketing Software to Increase Sales

Lehel Mátyus
Lehel Mátyus
Director, Front-End Engineering

As a Web Software Developer with over a decade of experience behind me, much of which I have spent working with museums, I can say with confidence that there are only a few strong options out there when it comes to museum ticketing software. The same is true for Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) systems. However, nothing so comprehensively combines both ticketing and CRM features and tools better than the Tessitura Network. And nothing is better suited to help museums increase sales and improve customer experience.

In this article, I’ll highlight the benefits of using the TN Express Web (“TNEW”) ticketing software for museums through the lens of three of our clients at Urban Insight: The National World War I Museum, Gilcrease Museum, and The Los Angeles County Museum of Arts.

I will also provide some helpful tips I’ve learned from implementing TNEW for our clients so you can get the most out of your ticketing software. 

Keep reading to learn more about how integrating TNEW into your digital sales process can help take your museum’s sales and user experience to the next level.

What I learned at the Tessitura Conference

With over 10 years of software development behind me, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to e-commerce, ticketing systems, and API integrations. Many come and go, are bought out, or rebranded. When we select technologies for our clients, we make sure we look beyond the features list and the important but ever-changeable code layer. We’ve found it's wise to take a look at the core principles of the organization behind the product in order to predict where a system is heading.

By attending the Tessitura conference, I got a close-up view of the past achievements and future aspirations of the Tessitura Network. But most importantly, I got to hear about how other museums and arts institutions are benefiting from using Tessitura’s museum ticketing software. It became clear to me that in the two following major areas, no other system can come close to Tessitura:

  1. The unparalleled community: In many ways, the cultural arts community created Tessitura as a company. It has its finger on the pulse of the community’s needs and wants to the point that they are setting new standards for how museums do business.
  2. Flexibility and power: Precisely because of the high level of access to its target market’s community and that community’s needs, Tessitura was able to build a completely unified solution that consolidates visitor, member, and donor information with powerful features strongly desired by multiple departments of a cultural arts institution. The software can handle ticketing, fundraising, memberships, marketing, unified CRM for museums, and much more.

Unique museum ticketing software solutions for unique client needs

Here at Urban Insight, we understand how important the collaborative discovery process is to ensure everyone on the team has a deep understanding of our client's unique needs. In most cases, integration of the TNEW museum ticketing software is enough for ticketing, fundraising, and CRM, as it is the best-packaged solution out there for most of your needs as a museum or arts institution.

However, in some instances, especially for decoupled website solutions, advanced API-level integrations are needed. Luckily, Tessitura’s flexibility combined with Urban Insight’s development expertise is a ticket to success no matter what your organization’s needs are.

Learn more about Tessitura CRM here: The Best CRM for Museums.

Success Stories: TNEW museum admissions software

TNEW museum admissions software can be used when you have an existing website or, ideally, when you’re creating a new website that will handle most of the museum's needs. In either scenario, you want to delegate the complexities of e-commerce and membership platforms to a unified system that was specifically built for these purposes.

The TNEW experience you get with Tessitura is a separate entity with its own hosting and online environment. Think of it as a kind of one-stop-shop packaged solution for all the e-commerce needs your organization may have. It’s a bare-bones installation that lives on a different domain (for example, tickets.yourdomain.com). This means you will have to apply your website's visual theme (i.e. design and front-end development) and integrate it into your menu system.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial and TNEW ticketing system

Museum Ticketing Software for World War I Museum and Memorial

TNEW is integrated with the award-winning website that Urban Insight built for The National World War I Museum and Memorial, and for which the Museum and Memorial marketing team took home the Gold Philly for Best Website, Large Division in 20221. We developed the website in Drupal 9 utilizing advanced content management tools such as Drupal’s layout builder. We also created a custom design and Drupal theme for it.

THE CLIENT’S CHALLENGE: In the previous version of the Museum and Memorial’s website, no integration with Tessitura existed. 

There were both visual and functional areas that required improvement with the previous website. For example, transactional pages (donations, online ticket purchases, and event registrations) were not well-integrated with the rest of the website.

  • Visual challenges: The transactional pages looked significantly different from the rest of the website.
  • Functional challenges: The website had one page featuring two carts across the TNEW instance, making for a confusing user experience. And any event registration or checkout required a site registration and numerous user details, discouraging users to finish any path, thereby impacting sales. 

Our goal in working with the Museum and Memorial was to both unify the visual identity and streamline the user experience: namely the functionality and purchasing path for the users.

In addition, the existing implementation limited how the Museum and Memorial could offer packages (i.e. the ability to bundle general admission and one-off exhibit tickets), which significantly limited marketing efforts.

THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE: The TNEW instance can load template files specifically rendered for TNEW but it replaces inner placeholders with dynamic content that you do not have absolute control over. These are components like the calendar, view of events, check-out panel, and the like. Theming these can be tricky and typically involves re-implementing the theme for the website and the theme for TNEW separately.

THE SOLUTION: Urban Insight integrated museum ticketing software Tessitura, thereby uniting the two transactional pages with the rest of the website. This resolved many problems and also created new features and customizations, including:

  • Creating new admission tiers that allowed the client to create packages and add-ons as desired.
  • Offering different types of donation contributions.
  • Providing for purchases of different membership levels.

Because Urban Insight developed the website from the ground up and created all of the asset sources for the theme, we were able to transfer the designs directly onto the Client’s TNEW ticketing website. We worked closely with our design team to make sure we didn’t just design a website, but instead create a design system that can branch out and cover elements originating from the TNEW platform. To see the theming work in action, check out the website of The National World War I Museum2.

TNEW Museum Ticketing Software

THE RESULTS: With the updates, the TNEW pages now visually match the main website, making for a more seamless transition between the two. Also, thanks to the user experience enhancements such as the newfound flexibility in ticket packages, ease of checkout, and overall functionality, the Museum and Memorial has been able to update and customize its marketing and offerings, and has seen a 15 percent improvement in bounce rate across the Tessitura pages (i.e. more website visitors are able to complete their checkouts without prematurely exiting the website).

TNEW Ticketing for Gilcrease Museum

 

TNEW Museum Ticketing Software for Gilcrease Museum

Urban Insight developed and continues to maintain and enhance multiple systems for Gilcrease Museum. Working alongside Gilcrease Museum, we developed multiple innovative features, highlighted below.

In 2019, Gilcrease Museum decided to replace its old and fragmented ticketing and membership system (which at the time did not work seamlessly together) with a seamless and integrated solution using Tessitura’s TNEW system. Although TNEW is billed as an “out of the box” solution compared to Tessitura’s standard API implementation, Gilcrease Museum soon realized it would require a major overhaul of its existing website, as well as some sophisticated technical integrations to make the experience seamless for visitors. The museum hired Urban Insight to design and develop the interconnections between their WordPress website and TNEW, and to develop a strategy for how users should experience both. 

THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE: The museum has multiple systems using different technologies. The main Gilcrease Museum website3 is a WordPress build. Its collections and archive library4 are developed using Drupal, and its ticketing and event handling5 system leverages TNEW. Precisely because of this, we needed to carefully architect the evolution of the design system as well as how we manage resource sharing between the website and museum ticketing software.

THE SOLUTION: In the case of a WordPress website coupled with a TNEW build it is preferred to generate TNEW template files directly from the WordPress theme. However, a complex family of systems requires a more creative solution.

In the case of Gilcrease Museum, we are utilizing one source of truth for the menu system. Effectively, all web solutions dynamically fetch and then build their menus from the source provided by the WordPress website. This means we have decoupled the TNEW header utilizing advanced JavaScript techniques to grab and build the menu on the TNEW site with data provided by WordPress. This demonstrates the power of a dynamic TNEW template compared to other single-flavored ticketing systems.

TNEW Museum Ticketing Software for Gilcrease Museum

THE RESULTS: Working with Gilcrease Museum, Urban Insight upgraded the website’s museum ticketing software in order to optimize the checkout process user experience to be as simple and effective as possible. This was achieved by designing a number of new interactive pages within WordPress to dynamically send visitors to the appropriate page in TNEW. Working with the TNEW API, we created shared sessions across the two sites to display cart and user account information in the main navigation. More importantly, Urban Insight helped Gilcrease Museum completely restructure the existing site architecture and navigation while carefully preserving legacy content and SEO value. The result was a checkout and membership signup experience that was and is as seamless as possible from a design and UX/UI (user experience/user interface) standpoint.

Advanced Tessitura Network API layer integration with decoupled websites for the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (“LACMA”)

Museum Ticketing Software  Tessitura Network API layer integration for LACMA

Urban Insight has had an opportunity to work with LACMA to solve a variety of fun and interesting challenges--from progressive web apps and Bluetooth beacons for indoor app tracking to ticketing systems capable of supporting wildly popular exhibitions (like the Rain Room exhibition6). 

THE CLIENT’S CHALLENGE: One particularly valuable challenge was to help LACMA sell a high volume of tickets within a short window of time without crashing the site and without website users being subject to page load times that are so long they navigate away from the page, resulting in lost sales for the museum. 

THE SOLUTION: To do this, Urban Insight worked with LACMA to build a connection between LACMA’s ticketing website and the Tessitura API layer to always have the bandwidth to handle sudden ticketing demand spikes. As a Tessitura partner with advanced experience in Amazon Web Services, our team was able to step up to this challenge and deliver a highly scalable architecture. The secret sauce was to build out a highly performant Node.js application mid-layer utilizing AWS Elastic load balancing and Amazon Elastic Cloud cluster.

To get more insight into how this mid-layer caching system was built, head to our page about implementing LACMA's museum ticketing software.

THE RESULTS: Our work with LACMA to integrate Tessitura’s museum ticketing software has improved ticketing functionality, enhancing user experience and sales. Due to the elastic scaling architecture of Urban Insight’s solution and the mid-layer caching mechanism we put in place, the ticketing front end was able to handle traffic above 29,000 requests per hour. It can now handle multiple days of rush traffic yet scale down AWS resources on demand in a cost-efficient manner.

Museum ticketing software capable of handling versatile ticketing needs with the right guidance

Tessitura Network has proved itself time and again as the best, most comprehensive and effective tool for museum ticketing software, CRM, membership, and fundraising platform needs.

Each of our museum client case studies highlighted above features unique requirements for ticketing and fundraising. The TNEW e-commerce system proved flexible enough to provide solutions for each client’s unique challenges. When it came to handling record website traffic surges, a custom solution using the API layer provided transformative results.

Contact us at Urban Insight to learn more about how we can improve your user experience and sales by optimizing your website’s museum ticketing software.

Contact us at Urban Insight to learn more about the best Museum Ticketing Software to help increase sales.

References

1. https://www.npconnect.org/2022-philly-awards/

2. https://www.theworldwar.org/

3. https://gilcrease.org

4. https://collections.gilcrease.org/

5. https://my.gilcrease.org/events?view=list&span=month&k=public%20events

6. https://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/rain-room