The Spektrix Ticket Converter

Any time you need to manage large numbers of cancelled bookings, it's worth considering whether you can ask customers to donate some or all of their ticket value back to your organisation to help with expenses related to cancellations, or to a relevant charity. As part of the same conversation, you might want to ask whether customers will accept refunds to venue credit.

We've created the Ticket Converter tool to help you manage these situations. In this article we're going to look at how this tool works, and how you can use it to manage cancellations. At the end of the article there's a change log where you can see the various stages of development that the tool has gone through.

Here's what we're going to cover:

How does it work?

The Ticket Converter is designed to help you to encourage your customers to exchange some or all of their ticket refunds, either into donations or venue credit to be used to make a purchase at a later date, and works by combining a report in Spektrix and your existing dotdigital integration.

  • When you run this report, you can upload the output directly to dotdigital and use this as an address book (dotdigital's term for customer list) for a new dotdigital campaign
  • This campaign includes a unique, automatically generated link for each customer who receives it
  • When each customer clicks on their link they will arrive at the Ticket Converter and see information and options that are relevant to them
  • You are then given an output of the form responses to process in your system

NOTE: if your organisation is not a charity and therefore can't accept donations, make sure you read through all of this article but pay particular attention to the Non-charitable organisation section for information about what you need to do slightly differently.

The Ticket Converter will first ask customers if they want their tickets refunded or if they would like to convert their tickets - or part of their tickets - into a donation. Once the customer has made their decision, if there is a refund to be made they will be asked if this should be to venue credit or to their original payment type. 

Here's an example of this working:

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We have tried to make this tool as easy as possible to use, but there will be a few steps you need to take in order to get everything set up and ready to use. 

Preparing your dotdigital account 

Before you can upload any information to dotdigital and start using the Ticket Converter, you'll need to first prepare your dotdigital account by creating some new contact data fields. These data fields will then be used to create the unique link that's sent to each customer. See our article on Personalisation in dotdigital for full details of how to add new contact data fields, but in the meantime here's a quick run-down of the basics.

NOTE: you will need to be able to set up contact data fields and add new address books in dotdigital in order to complete the following tasks. If you don't have the correct access permissions, speak to whoever in your organisation administers your dotdigital account.

  • In your dotdigital account go to Contacts > Contact data fields and navigate to the My data fields tab
  • Click on the New Data Field button to open the Create new field box

  • Create the following contact data fields:

Name

Data Type

Default Value

Access

Folder

EVENTNAME

Text

 

Private

Data fields

EVENTDATETIME

Text

 

Private

Data fields

TICKETVALUE

Text

 

Private

Data fields

CUSTOMERID

Text

 

Private

Data fields

These will be in addition to the standard dotdigital contact data fields, which will also be used:

  • FIRSTNAME
  • LASTNAME
  • FULLNAME
  • EMAIL

NOTE: if you go to My Contacts > Contact Data Fields > Default Data Fields you won't see EMAIL in the list, because it is actually a core concept in dotdigital. Don't worry, though - you'll see it any time you want to add contact fields into a campaign, or you can add it just by including @EMAIL@ in any text.

In addition, you should prepare a short message (no more than 1,000 characters) that your customers will see in the Ticket Converter.

  • You'll need to run this text through a URL encoder (like this one) ready for use later - this just makes sure that the URL correctly handles any spacing and punctuation in your text
  • You should also run your venue name through this encoder as you'll need it later as well

Both of these are used when completing your unique link:

  • Short message: use this in place of INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE in your link
  • Venue name: use this in place of ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE in your link

Building your Campaign Template

You're now ready to build your campaign template in dotdigital. We've put together an example campaign template as part of our All In This Together guide which you can use as a starting point for what to say, how to lay things out and where to use your contact data fields.

NOTE: you can use the contact data fields to include Event-specific information in your template - you just need to insert @EVENTNAME@ and @EVENTDATETIME@ to include information about the performance in question.

TCT_email_template_new.png

Inserting the unique link
The most important element to include in your template is the unique link that will take customers to the Ticket Converter and display their options. Make sure you add this into the template either by including it in the main body of the email, or by linking out to it via a button or another item inserted as a Building Block.

We've provided you with the basic details you need to use for this link, however there are two things to be aware of:

  • Make sure you check the Do not track this link option when setting the link. Without doing this, customers with multiple bookings may not see the corresponding event when clicking through
  • Make sure you add in the encoded message and venue name that you set up earlier in place of INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE and ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE
  • Please make sure you use the correct version of the link, depending on where your organisation is based
  • Do not try to use a link shortener (such as bit.ly) as this will cause the link to break

United Kingdom
For organisations in the UK, you'll need to use the following base link: 

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/donateRefund?currency=GBP&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

Republic of Ireland
For organisations in the Republic of Ireland, you'll need to use the following base link:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/donateRefund?currency=EUR&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

United States
For organisations in the US, you'll need to use the following link:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/donateRefund?currency=USD&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

Canada
For organisations in Canada, you'll need to use the following base link

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/donateRefund?currency=CAD&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

Non-charitable organisations

If you're not a charitable organisation and therefore can't accept donations, you can still use the Ticket Converter to ask customers to refund their tickets to venue credit with you rather than their original payment method. This way you can encourage customers to return and book another performance with you in future.

To do this, follow the same steps as above, but use one of the following links instead of what's listed above (remember, do not try to use a link shortener as this will cause the link to break). 

 

United Kingdom
For organisations in the UK, you'll need to use the following base link:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/refundoptions?currency=GBP&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

Republic of Ireland
For organisations in the Republic of Ireland, you'll need to use the following base link:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/refundoptions?currency=EUR&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

United States
For organisations in the US, you'll need to use the following link:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/refundoptions?currency=USD&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

Canada
For organisations in Canada, you'll need to use the following base link:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/refundoptions?currency=CAD&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@

Ticket Converter configuration

The Ticket Converter tool is configurable, allowing you to customise which options you would like to offer your customers.

Configuring options
You can choose which - if any - of the available options you want to use at the following webpage:

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To access the options, first you'll need to tell us who should have access to the Ticket Converter (for both configuration and accessing customer responses) by completing this form. Please make sure you provide us with the following information:

  • Your venue's name: please make sure that this:
  • Your name: your full name, or the name of who you would like to grant access
  • Your email address: your work email address (or the best email address to use)

Once we receive these details via the form we will securely provide you with a token which you can use to access the Ticket Converter. You only need to request this token one time – once you've logged in using it, your access is fully set up so you don't need a new one each time you want to access the tool.

NOTE: please ensure you keep this token safe and secure, as it provides you with access to your customers' personal details.

When you've logged in, you'll see the following page:

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The options you choose here will determine what's presented to your customers in the Ticket Converter, as well as the flow of the tool online. We'll take you through what each option means and how it impacts on your customers.

Refund options
This section allows you to disable one of the options that customers see when they use the Ticket Converter, if you want to only offer one method of refund.

NOTE: you always need at least one refund method to be available, so you can only ever disable one of these options at any time.

Disable the 'Refund to my original payment method' option
With this checkbox selected (i.e. you're choosing to disable the original method of payment), the option to Donate a portion of... will show additional text to reflect the fact that the remaining value will be refunded as venue credit. 

The Refund option will also change, to reflect the fact that this is a refund to venue credit. 

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Customers will then be taken directly to the confirmation page and the appropriate responses will be recorded.

Disable the 'Refund to venue credit' option
With this checkbox selected (i.e. you're disabling the option for customers to have their refund as venue credit) the option to Donate a portion of... will show additional text to reflect the fact that the remaining value will be refunded to the original payment method.

The Refund option will also change, to reflect the fact that this is a refund to the original payment method.

mceclip4.png

Customers will then be taken directly to the confirmation page and the appropriate responses will be recorded.

'Keep my tickets' options
You can configure the Ticket Converter to allow customers who don't want a refund to keep hold of their tickets instead, and use them for future performances. There are two ways of doing this - you can set it up in these configuration options, in which case it will apply globally to all Events, or you can enable it on an Event-by-Event basis by amending the unique link you send out.

Enable the 'Keep my tickets for a future date' option (global)
With this selected, a new global (i.e. for all Events) Keep my tickets for a future date option will be available - selecting this will take customers directly to the confirmation page.

NOTE: this option is only available for charitable organisations. If you are using the non-charitable links, you'll need to use the following option of enabling this by Event.

mceclip5.png

This will display in the data you output from the Ticket Converter as Keep Tickets

Enabling the 'Keep my tickets for a future date' option per Event
You can enable this option on a per-Event basis by using the &keeptickets parameter at the end of the unique link that you use in your mailing campaign. For example, for UK charitable organisations:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/donateRefund?currency=GBP&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&keeptickets

  • If this parameter is present, the Keep my tickets for a future date option will be available to customers on that link
  • HOWEVER, if the Enable the Keep my tickets for a future date option is selected in the Ticket Converter configuration, this will override what's in the unique link and enable the option globally

Enabling the 'Transfer my tickets to the alternative event' option per Event
If you're not rescheduling an event, but would like to give people the option to swap their tickets for an alternative one, you can enable this option on a per-Event basis by using the &transfer parameter at the end of the unique link that you use in your mailing campaign. For example, for UK charitable organisations:

https://refunds.arts-venues.com/donateRefund?currency=GBP&customerid=@CUSTOMERID@&eventname=@EVENTNAME@&eventdatetime=@EVENTDATETIME@&ticketvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&client=ENCODEDVENUENAMEHERE&clienttext=INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE&remainingvalue=@TICKETVALUE@&transfer

  • If this parameter is present, the Transfer my tickets to the alternative event option will be available to customers on that link 

mceclip7.png

This will display in the data you output from the Ticket Converter as Transfer Tickets.

Preparing and sending campaigns

Next we'll take you through the steps you need to follow in order to get customer data out of your system and into dotdigital before you can test your campaign and then start sending. Here's what we'll cover:

Outputting data
First of all, please email support@spektrix.com to let us know and we'll add a Ticket Converter Report to your system.

NOTE: by default this report will list ticket costs including any per-ticket commissions. If you want your emails to customers to exclude those commissions, let us know and we can provide you with a report showing the ticket face value instead. This relates only to per-ticket commissions – per-transaction and delivery commissions will not be included in any versions of this report.

This report is designed to be run separately for each cancelled Instance that you want to process refunds for. You can, however, edit the report (we would suggest making a copy to do so) to allow you to use it for either all Instances of one Event, or multiple Events. We'll take you through the workflow for all three of these options:

NOTE: regardless of which option you choose, each upload to dotdigital can only contain one combination of CustomerID, Event and Instance (as the Ticket Converter will not allow duplicates).

One Instance at a time
If you run this report in its standard form for more than one Instance at time, then customers with multiple bookings may get confusing messages. As long as you're happy to run it for individual Instances, here's the workflow to follow:

  1. Run the report for one Instance
    • NOTE: if the Event name contains an ampersand (&) you'll need to open the output of the report in Excel and change every mention of the name to replace & with and (you should be able to use the Find and Replace function), then save it before you go any further
  2. Upload the output file to dotdigital as an address book
  3. Send your campaign
  4. Return to step 1 and repeat for the next Instance, and so on...
    • Make sure you send your first campaign before you perform your second upload. If you upload a second file before the first send, customers who are in both lists will have their information overwritten by the second upload

All Instances of an Event
Here's the process to follow instead if you want to run the report for all Instances of one Event:

  • Create a copy of the Ticket Converter Report in the Report Explorer by clicking on Copy report
  • Click the green + icon next to your copied report, and click Edit report

mceclip0.png

  • Edit the name of the report (we would suggest calling it Ticket Converter Report - All Instances)
  • Select Output from the options along the top of the Edit Report pop-up:

mceclip1.png

  • Remove the Event Date/Time metric (click the red X icon), and click Save

mceclip2.png

You can now run this report and upload its output to dotdigital.

NOTE: if the Event name contains an ampersand (&) then before you upload the report to dotdigital you'll need to open it in Excel and change every mention of the name to replace & with and (you should be able to use the Find and Replace function), then save it before you go any further.

  • In your dotdigital template, make sure that you remove any reference to @EVENTDATETIME@ in the email body (although leaving it in the link is fine).
  • In your email body, make it clear in writing that the entire run of the Event has been cancelled

Your customers will then see a landing page like this:

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Note that no date is displayed because it's the entire Event, rather than one Instance, which has been cancelled.

Here's the workflow for sending:

  1. Run the report for one Event
  2. Upload the output file to dotdigital as an address book
  3. Send your campaign
  4. Return to step 1 and repeat for the next Event, and so on...
    • Make sure you send your first campaign before you perform your second upload. If you upload a second file before the first send, customers who are in both lists will have their information overwritten by the second upload

NOTE: when you come to process the donations/refunds, be aware that if a customer has booked for more than one instance, the tickets to be returned might be split across multiple orders.

Multiple Events
Here's the process to follow instead if you want to run the report for multiple Events:

  • Create a copy of the Ticket Converter Report in the Report Explorer by clicking on Copy report
  • Click the green + icon next to your copied report, and click Edit report

mceclip4.png

  • Edit the name of the report (we would suggest calling it Ticket Converter Report - Multiple Events)
  • Select Output from the options along the top of the Edit Report pop-up:

mceclip1.png

  • Remove the Event Date/Time and Event Name metrics (click the red X icons), and click Save

mceclip5.png

Before uploading your report output to dotdigital, open it in Excel (or another spreadsheet tool) and do the following:

  • Add a new column called Event Name
  • In every subsequent row add the name that you want your customers to see on the ticket converter (for example the name of your festival, or a descriptive name such as All performances in April)
  • NOTE: if the Event Name contains an ampersand (&) you'll need to change every mention of the name to replace & with and (you should be able to use the Find and Replace function)

NOTE: if you have already sent emails for specific Instances - including pre or post-show emails - you may find that some customers already have a value for the Event Date/Time data field in dotdigital - if so, this will pull through and populate on the Ticket Converter from links in subsequent mailings. To avoid this happening, you can add a blank Event Date/Time column to your .CSV before uploading the new address book to dotdigital - this will overwrite the data field, and avoid any issues occurring.

Here's an example of how that should look:

mceclip6.png

Once that's done, you can upload the file to dotdigital.

  • In your dotdigital template, make sure that you remove any reference to @EVENTDATETIME@  and @EVENTNAME@in the email body but leave them in the link
  • In your email body, make it clear that it's the entire run of the Event that has been cancelled
    • You won't be able to list the Event(s) that each specific customer has booked for, so you'll have to use generic language such as “All events you may have booked for in April, including Macbeth, Hamlet and Othello” 

Your customers will then see a landing page like this:

mceclip4.png

Note there's no date visible; however the descriptive title you added into the spreadsheet in place of the Event Name is visible.

NOTE: when you come to process the donations/refunds, be aware that if a customer's bookings were over multiple orders, you'll have to process each one separately in the system, balancing the total across the orders.

Running the report and uploading to dotdigital
Regardless of how you've set it up, the default criteria set for this report will look for any bookers who have an email address, but you may want to edit this to exclude certain customers - for example Press, Agents, Employees, etc.

If you have any questions around configuring this, please contact the Support team who will be happy to help.

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Choose Run as Excel (not Excel unformatted). Once the report has been run, it will output a file which you can upload (as an XLS) to dotdigital as a new address book, via the Contacts > My Contacts section in dotdigital.

Click the New address book button and you'll be given the option to create a new address book as follows:

We recommend naming this with information about the Instance you selected to generate the report in Spektrix, so that you have a clear record of what each address book is used for.

Upon clicking the save button you'll be prompted to add contacts to the address book - select the Excel/CSV option:

Then click the Choose file button and browse to the downloaded report. Once selected, click the Upload button on the right hand side:

You'll then be prompted to 'map' the report columns to the corresponding dotdigital values:

mapping.PNG

These should be completed as follows:

Dotdigital 'Map to' Value

Report 'Contact 1' value

firstname

Owner First Name

lastname

Owner Last Name

customerid

Owner Id

email

Email Address

fullname

Owner Name

eventname

Event Name

eventdatetime

Event Date/Time

ticketvalue

Sum of Total Charged

Once that's done, dotdigital will import the customers into your address book and provide you with a breakdown of what has been imported. Here's an example of how that looks:

Before you do anything else, make sure you click the Download unimported addresses button, so that you can download a list of any customers who weren't successfully added to the address book. See the following section on Customers on the suppression list for more details of what to do with this information.

Customers on the suppression list
When you upload an address book to dotdigital, be aware that dotdigital will run it through a suppression list to identify any customers who have previously been blocked, unsubscribed or bounced.

NOTE: you can, if you choose, run your address book through the second suppression list that's referenced in the screenshot above, but we'll work on the assumption that you're only using the mandatory suppression list.

What this means is that there's a chance some of the customers that you've uploaded to dotdigital won't be included in the address book - and therefore won't receive your email.

We recommend you use the ImportFaults spreadsheet that's generated when you click Download unimported addresses as a separate list to use for manually contacting these customers who are on the suppression list. As there should only be a few of those per list, keep a note of them and come back to them later.

Testing your campaign
Before sending your campaign, we would recommend you run a quick test to make sure everything in the email looks right, and the unique link is generating correctly.

The best way to test this is to create an address book in dotdigital which only sends to a small number of test email addresses (i.e. yourself and any colleagues who are working on this).

We have put together an Excel template to help you test your campaign, which you can download here. You'll need to use this as follows: 

  • Add your test email addresses to this template 
  • Make sure each row in the template has a unique CustomerID
  • Upload to a new address book in dotdigital as we described earlier.

Once you've sent your test campaign, everyone in that address book should receive a unique link that takes them to the Ticket Converter, where they will see their options for an example cancelled Event called Test Event.

If you find any problems with your test send then please get in touch with the Spektrix Support Team who will be able to help.

Sending your campaign
Everything should now be built in dotdigital, so you're ready to schedule or send your campaign to this address book - make sure you send directly from dotdigital, as this isn't an integrated email in Spektrix.

See this article from dotdigital for how to send a campaign; just make sure you select the appropriate address book to send to. 

Remember to check your ImportFaults CSV from dotdigital and contact the customers on that list separately.

Customer responses

Once you've sent that email, customers will be able to click the link you include and make their choices for what they would like to do. Here's an example of how that looks:

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If you're a charitable organisation, the information you encoded in your unique link earlier (i.e. the information you included in place of INSERTENCODEDTEXTHERE) will show up on this page underneath the Event name and date/time details.

If not, the standard message of “Please select how you would like the remaining value to be returned” will display instead.

Accessing your customers' responses
Once you've sent your campaign, you can securely retrieve your customers' responses as a .CSV download from a dedicated site that we've set up.

You can get into this site using the same key as you used to set up your Ticket Converter configuration earlier on. If you haven't already done that, check back to this part of the article and make sure you fill in the form there.

Here's the link for downloading the customer responses you've received from the Ticket Converter:

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Fill in the following fields:

  • Key: enter the unique key that we provided you with
  • Date from/to: select a date/time range for responses.

Click the Download button to generate a .CSV file of Ticket Converter responses within your given date range.

NOTE: Please be aware that the time ranges in the Ticket Converter Response Downloader are based on the UTC timezone.

Closing the Ticket Converter form to prevent further customer responses 
If you've given customers a set date to respond by and now want to close the Ticket Converter form and prevent further responses, you can do so from your Ticket Converter configuration page. Just tick the Close the form (and disable new responses) check box; you can also add a custom message to let customers know that the form is now closed, and where to contact you if they have any questions.

Tracking donations 
You'll probably want to keep track of how many donations come in through use of the Ticket Converter, both for accounting purposes and so you can suitably thank your donors. We'd recommend you create a new Fund specifically for these donations, ensuring each donation you process is added to it. This way you can easily report on donations made to this Fund, knowing that all of these donations will be as a result of the Ticket Converter.

***

If you have any questions about the Ticket Converter or would like to discuss any of the stages of using it in more detail, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team to talk things through.

***

Ticket Converter change log

We're continually developing this tool in order to best suit the needs of Spektrix clients. The main body of this article is up to date with the current state of the tool, but you can see some of the key stages that it's progressed through using the change log below:

20/03/2020

19/03/2020

17/03/2020

16/03/2020

  • The Spektrix Ticket Converter tool is released
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