Fergus Grand Theatre to get an online ticket selling system

The Fergus Grand Theatre will have a new and better means of selling tick­ets to events there through a new system that can be used to sell tickets for other attractions in Centre Wellington, too.

Council on July 14 ap­prov­ed the purchase of an On-line Box Office Software system from TixHub Inc., of Missis­sauga, for $13,000.

That purchase is one of the goals in the Parks and Recre­ation strategic plan.

Treasurer Wes Snarr stated in his report that the system is included in the 2008 budget.

“The township requires a new system to improve custo­mer access and sales through the ability to accept debit and internet based credit card pay­ments,” Snarr said in his report. “Further, user friendly func­tionality in a web based inter­face is required to enable vol­un­teers to access and use the sys­tem outside of the office hours and from various loca­tions. The functionality requir­ed includes ticketing, market­ing, event scheduling, and gift certificates.”

Snarr said staff researched the market and noted there are numerous sources for the equipment.

But, he added, “The TixHub system is unique it its ability to meet the township’s require­ments.” He said it comes with other features that include:

– licensing is based on ownership and not facility. That means that, unlike other sys­tems, it can be used for any faci­lity from any location, for any group or organization.

– the company providing it is located, and support is pro­vided, in Ontario. The other vendors tended to be from the United States.

– the product is geared to the Ontario Market. Clientele in­clude the River Run Centre in Guelph, the Oakville Perform­ing Arts Centre, the Markham Theatre, and the Kiwanis The­atre in Chatham.

Snarr added that TixHub also provides its software ser­vic­es via an applications ser­vice provider model, so the soft­ware resides on the com­pany service and services are provided via the internet. “This has the advantage of minimiz­ing the impact on [information technology] resources.”

Snarr’s report noted other benefits.

“There is also an opportu­nity to expand the use of the box office system for other non-theatre uses, like the RCMP Musical Ride, Fergus Festival concert, Truck Show concert, tourism events, and for the planned outdoor perform­ing area in Bissell Park.”

Snarr said the bid is close to budget, and staff will negotiate a price that is within budget. The monthly support fee is $350, plus a $1 per ticket internet transaction fee.

When council considered the report, councillor Bob Fos­ter pointed out the theatre reve­nue is $25,000 a year, and the cost to operate it is $75,000, leav­ing a deficit of $50,000.

“Will this new software help address the difference?” Fos­ter asked.

Snarr said that it could help much more in marketing. Cur­rently, sales are limited  there is being no online internet capa­bility, so people can’t buy tick­ets online. He said that capa­bility will likely improve reve­nue.

Foster said his concern is spending money on the theatre when there is no business plan.

But councillor Fred Morris pointed out the software system is not just for the theatre, but for the entire community, with “multiple events.”