The LSO Pulse project is the London Symphony Orchestra’s discounted ticket and loyalty scheme for students – they offer £6 tickets for 10 (thereabouts) on selected concerts throughout the LSO season at the Barbican to students aged 18 years old or more.
I caught up with Jo Johnson, digital marketing manager at the London Symphony Orchestra to find out how the Pulse project was coming along…
“We wanted to update the technology we used to run the scheme and to give it a 21st century feel,” explained Jo, which is why LSO chose to use an app to reach a younger audience. “The app lists all the events included in the scheme, allows the students to share their attendance on their social networks and enables them to buy tickets for themselves and their friends directly from the app.
“It means that they don’t need to leave it in order to call or book online – this also means that they don’t have to pay a booking fee, which would usually be up to a third of the ticket price again on top.”
Jo explained that the tickets are delivered to the app as a QR code, which users can bring with them on the night for scanning on entry: “Students also collect points in the app for completing actions such as sharing with their friends, buying tickets for themselves and their friends and for filling in short surveys after the event. Points build towards a tiered series of rewards, such as CDs, free tickets, free drinks and meals, Amazon and Spotify vouchers – at the end of the season we reward the person collecting the most points with a trip to Paris with the LSO.”
Jo was keen to mention that, overall, the project has gone very smoothly: “We were delighted with the initial take-up of the app by our existing LSO Pulse members and pleased to see that the transition was pretty smooth for them. We haven’t had too many bugs surface in the app itself, and have had a smooth ride on the scanning hardware side, with no on-the-night disasters or total tech failures (aside from a couple of minor Wi-Fi problems!).
“We have been surprised by some of the ways in which the students have used the app – for example, a couple of users without smartphones used the mobile website on a desktop computer and then printed the QR code ticket to bring with them on the night, something we hadn’t considered as a possibility. Luckily this worked just as well!”
Because LSO are yet to do all the data-crunching, Jo didn’t have any concrete numbers but revealed that early indications show that awareness of the scheme itself has grown, with more first-timers attending LSO concerts.
“Our main challenge was related to the scanning process in our venue, the Barbican Centre,” admitted Jo. “When we sat down with them to explain what we wanted to do, they raised an issue with their auditing process – paper tickets were a required part of this and entry to the hall was not permitted without one. They were also concerned about their stewards having to decipher more than one type of ticket quickly when large numbers of people were entering the hall together.
“As a short term solution we decided to set up a dedicated desk for scanning and printing off the tickets that had been purchased in the app – stewards could then hand the purchaser the corresponding ticket after their QR code ticket had been scanned. This also meant the stewards didn’t have to be trained to use the scanners.”
Jo also mentioned another work-around they had considered: “We also thought about a solution whereby we purchased a ticket printer which printed a ticket when the QR code was scanned, but we discounted this solution as the Barbican could only accept tickets printed on their own stock.”
Despite this change to the initial plan, the app team have been working with the Barbican on future implementation of mobile ticketing, and Jo said she’s delighted that their test project has been able to demonstrate to them the pros and cons of this method: “We have however still been able to test the full solution twice at our venue, LSO St Luke’s, with stewards scanning the phones and without handing out paper tickets, which we were pleased to see went smoothly.”
Matthew Caines is a journalist currently blogging and posting updates from all eight projects involved in the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture
Last night was the second of the student events promoted in the LSO Pulse app. The web application which processes the scanned tickets had been tweaked a little to make for a better user experience. The screen flicker which had been present on scan for the first event is gone.
There was also a clear improvement in how comfortable the scanner operators were in using the system. The process was more efficient than it was last time and there were no issues for any of the students.
Our next event is at a different location, LSO St Luke’s, where the set up is quite different, with new challenges and limitations, so we are spending some time on delivering in that scenario.
As part of the LSO Pulse app project, we had our first evening of mobile ticketing with our target audience of students.
Having developed and built the mobile app and mobile site to facilitate the tickets and benefits of the Pulse program, this event was selected to pilot the complete circle of ticket purchase through to ticket redemption.
As a headline number, 100% of the tickets sold to students for this event were correctly identified, claimed and handed out on the night, with the details broken down below.
The overall process went very well, with only minor glitches and queries that would be expected at the introduction of any such complex technology into the ticketing process.
A maximum of 100 tickets were allocated at student discount prices for this first event. It was decided by the team to only allow mobile app or mobile site ordering for this event, to test the validity of the proposition.
Tickets sold were 64, bought by 26 individuals for themselves and their friends (part of the Pulse program is to encourage group purchase), meaning an average number of tickets pp. of 2.4.
The largest order was made on the Mobile Site for 8 tickets in 1 transaction (maximum allowed is 9).
Here the distribution of Mobile Channels used to buy the tickets:
The Mobile Site caters for Blackberry and similar smartphones where no dedicated app exists. From KODIME‘s experience, this distribution is logical, iPhone users are the biggest group of active smartphone owners, and also like to download and use apps more than any other mobile platform.
Conversion App Download to Purchase
Of around 90 downloads of the app in the two weeks after release up to March 14th, we generated 18 transactions, which is a high conversion rate of 20%. We would expect to see no more than 2% based on the experience other mobile commerce projects.
On the Night
We set up at the venue at 5.30, and trained the LSO student coordinators Tomoyo and Callum over half an hour on how to use the scanner and web app (see below).
Tickets were scanned and redeemed between 6.00pm-7.30pm, with the last handed out at 7.35pm – after the concert had begun!
QR Code Scanning
The QR Code scanning with the manually operated barcode scanner worked flawlessly. There was the occasional issue of needing to focus the scanner in the right distance to the QR Code, but otherwise the decoding worked with all screens of different sizes as well as the paper printouts presented (see below).
In order to read and process the tickets, checking for validity and seat information via the QR Code, we had built a LSO Pulse “web app”, a website with interactive features. This worked well on the night, however we noted some user interface issues (web browser related) which we plan to improve for the next event.
We do not have tracking of all the social share options (email excluded), but 3 shares of “I have bought my ticket via the LSO Pulse app” were made to facebook and Twitter. This is out of the 18 app users, so not bad. Again need more data/events here to evaluate.
After the Event
The App provides for automated Push Notification to ticket buyers to complete a Survey the day after the Event. Our test handsets successfully received this notification and records show it went out to all applicable users. We do not have control over their settings; iPhone users increasingly disable these alerts. Of the 26 handsets pushed, only 1 started and completed the survey so far. Surveys generate additional reward points for users, and we plan to use a text message to re-prompt the users to complete their survey. Will need to monitor this over the next few events. One other reality is that users are generally reluctant to complete multi-screen data entry on the small screen, unless there is compelling reason (such as having to provide address or credit card data for an order).
We are very pleased with the results so far – we only released the app two weeks before the event, and outside of a few queries had no issues with the reasonably complex chain of mobile marketing, transaction, ticket delivery and redemption on the site.
The next events (starting from April 12th onwards) will be used to
– optimise existing process and systems based on outcome from first event
– test additional layers, example ticket PRINTING and entry management
– gain more data from users for deeper analysis
Watch this space!
This is an interesting use of QR codes and print media in combination. There are a lot of ways this could be adapted to make museum objects really social. And have them, almost literally, talk. And in return have visitors join in that conversation. But you’d need a budget rather bigger than #socialinterp’s.
This Reporters Without Borders advert is a bit gimmicky. But still, fair play, as it’s a hard subject to get people engaged with.
QR Codes are the cause of much debate / argument / kitten killing, both in and outside of Social Interpretation. But why do we need them? What are the different options? And if using QR, what can one do to make them as usable as possible?
Why this debate at all?
To put it simply, because we want to enable people to use objects (or anything physical) as keys into more information. This might be info about an object, a theme, or maybe a discussion or piece of media. To do this, we need some way to bridge the physical/digital divide.
So what’re our options? Read more…