When performances are cancelled, circumstances might dictate that you don’t need to actually cancel and offer refunds, but can rearrange some or all of your performances to dates in the future. Spektrix gives you the tools to not just reschedule Instances - so that you can avoid cancelling and refunding - but also communicate with your customers to manage their expectations of what’s happening.
In this article we’re going to look at a time and cost-effective way of rescheduling Instances and using our dotdigital integration to contact your customers, allowing you to control the message that you’re providing and keep track of who you’ve contacted. This is specifically focused on contacting customers who have provided email addresses - we would suggest contacting anyone without an email address by phone instead.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Initial setup
- Rescheduling in Spektrix
- Contacting your customers
NOTE: following this process will mean you won’t need to reprint tickets or regenerate Print @ Home tickets - just make sure you let customers know when you contact them that their original tickets are still valid (and the barcodes will still scan) for the rescheduled Instances.
There are three steps to take in getting set up:
- In Spektrix: create two new Attributes
- In dotdigital: create a new contact data field to match the new Attributes, then build a new campaign using these as merge fields
- Request a report: ask the Spektrix Support team to add a custom report to your system
The first step is to create two new Attributes in Spektrix - in order to do this you’ll need the Settings Administrator role on your user account. See this article for more information about user roles and access permissions.
You create new Attributes in the Settings Interface under the Attribute Templates section:
The two Attributes you need to create should both be Instance Attributes:
- Select the Instance menu on the left-hand side of the screen
- Click on the New Attribute Template button to create a new Attribute
Create two Attributes, as follows:
- Original Instance Date
- Description: Select the date of the original Instance
- Type: Date and Time
- Original Instance Time
- Description: Select the time of the original Instance
- Type: Text field
- You might not need this one, depending on whether you’re going to need to change the performance time as well as date (or if you have multiple Instances on the same day)
NOTE: neither of these Attributes need the visible in your API integrations or is always required options to be selected.
Once you’re all set up in Spektrix, the next step is to set up new contact data fields in your dotdigital account (to match the new Attributes in Spektrix), and then to create a new dotdigital campaign.
Creating new contact data fields
So that you can pull through the information from the Original Instance Date and Original Instance Time Attributes that you’ve just created, you need to set up two new contact data fields in dotdigital, which you’ll link to the Attributes later on. Depending on whether you’ve used similar functionality before, you may need to also create new fields to pull through the relevant Instance information from Spektrix.
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 a new field using the following options:
- Name: ORIGINALDATE
- Data type: Date
- Default value: [leave blank]
- Access: Private
- Folder: Data fields
- If you’ve changed the time of your performances as well as the date, create another field using these options:
- Name: ORIGINALTIME
- Data type: Text
- Default value: [leave blank]
- Access: Private
- Folder: Data fields
- If you don’t already have them set up, create three further fields:
- EVENTNAME (Text type, other options as above)
- EVENTDATE (Date type, other options as above)
- EVENTTIME (Text type, other options as above)
Creating a new campaign
Once that’s done, create a new dotdigital campaign that you’re going to use to let customers know what’s happening. You might want to include the following, for example:
- Why you’ve rescheduled the performances
- The details of the new date(s)
- What customers need to do:
- Original tickets are still valid so no need to do anything if the new dates are OK
- If not, contact the box office to discuss options
To help personalise this email to each customer, you can use the following contact data fields:
- @EVENTNAME@: the name of the show
- @ORIGINALDATE@: the original date of the performance when the customer booked
- @ORIGINALTIME@: the original show time of the performance
- @EVENTDATE@: the new show date
- @EVENTTIME@: the new show time
If you haven’t used contact data fields before, all you need to do is add them into the main body of your email where you want each piece of information to display. Here’s an example:
- “...please note that due to the current uncertain circumstances, we have taken the decision to postpone the performance of @EVENTNAME@ that you have booked for. Your tickets for @ORIGINALDATE@ at @ORIGINALTIME@ are still valid for the new performance on @EVENTDATE@ at @EVENTTIME@...”
Other than making sure you’re using these contact data fields to pull through the relevant information, you can build this campaign however you like to suit your normal styling.
Request a custom report
In order to get your customers’ details into dotdigital - including the Original Instance Date and Original Instance Time Attributes - you’ll need to use a custom report that we can provide for you. Whenever you want to send a campaign using this method you can run this report, upload the output to dotdigital and use it as the address book to send to.
Please complete this form to request a custom report with the following details:
- Criteria set: By Instance (so you can choose which Instance to run it on each time)
- Output columns:
- Event Name
- Event Date
- Event Time
- Original Instance Date Attribute
- Original Instance Time Attribute
- Customer Name
- Email Address
You’ll need to run this report once for each instance you’re rescheduling - when you run it, select the Run as Excel option (not Excel unformatted).
- When you rearrange an Instance that was due to happen more than six months ago, all tickets will be automatically regenerated and resent, e.g. if on 24th October 2020, you rearrange an Instance that was due to happen before 24th April 2020, these tickets will automatically regenerate and resend
- You might want to temporarily switch your Print at Home ticket PDF template to one that mentions the ticket is 'regenerated/rescheduled' before regenerating and resending tickets to make it clear to customers which ticket they should bring, and help your front of house team spot any duplicates
With everything set up, and assuming you’ve confirmed that your performances can definitely be rescheduled, now’s the time to start editing your Instances in Spektrix. In order to do this you’ll need the General Administrator user role on your account; see this article for more information about user roles and access permissions.
Here’s the process to follow:
- In the Admin Interface go to the Events page, and choose the Event that you’re rescheduling an Instance of
- Select the Instance you want to reschedule
- From the Event Instance Detail page, click the Edit button in the bottom-right corner
- Edit the Date and Time fields with the details for the new performance date/time
- Edit the Instance Attributes (at the bottom of the screen) as follows:
- Original Instance Date: enter the details of the Instance’s original date
- Original Instance Time: enter the details of the Instance’s original time (if it’s changed or you need to specify it)
- Click Save to make your changes
You need to make these edits individually, rather than using the Bulk Instance Update Tool, because for each Instance you need to update the Date and Time fields - and the new Attributes - with unique values.
NOTE: updating an Instance will not trigger a new confirmation email or cause Print @ Home tickets to automatically be resent.
Once you have edited all of your Instances, the final step is to contact the customers who have booked for those Instances to let them know what’s happened, and what their options are. In order to do this you’ll need either the Insights & Mailings User or Insights & Mailings Administrator user role on your account; see this article for more information about user roles and access permissions.
In Insights & Mailings > Reports > Report Explorer, find the custom report that you requested from the Spektrix Support team:
- Run this report for one Instance at a time and output it as an Excel file
- Save the report output, and open it up in Excel to check the data. It’s worth picking a sample customer or two and comparing what’s in the report to their customer record, just to make sure everything looks right
Assuming you’re happy with the data, you can use this file as an address book in dotdigital. If you haven’t manually uploaded an address book to dotdigital before, just follow the instructions in this dotdigital support article. Here’s a quick overview of the process:
- In the Contacts section of your dotdigital account, click the New address book button
- Select the Add a list of contacts from an Excel or CSV file option, choose the output file from your report, and upload it to dotdigital
- You’ll need to map some/all of the columns in your file to contact data fields in dotdigital:
- Spektrix Event Name - map to EVENTNAME in dotdigital
- Spektrix Event Date - map to EVENTDATE in dotdigital
- Spektrix Event Time - map to EVENTTIME in dotdigital
- Spektrix Original Instance Date - map to ORIGINALDATE in dotdigital
- Spektrix Original Instance Time - map to ORIGINALTIME in dotdigital
- Spektrix Customer Name - map to FULLNAME in dotdigital
- Spektrix Email Address - map to EMAIL in dotdigital
Once you’ve uploaded the address book but 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.
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. 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.
In order to do this, you’ll need to make sure that you have one or more email addresses already recorded in dotdigital as Contacts - the people you want to receive the test sends - and that each of these Contacts has some data in the contact data fields you’re using in your campaign. Here’s a process we suggest you follow for this:
- In dotdigital, go to Contacts > My Contacts and search for an address book called Test
- If an email address you want to use is not yet present in the address book then click on the New Contacts button to add it in
- To add information into data fields, select an email address then go to the Data fields option in the menu
- Find the data field you want to update, then add in the information and click the green tick button to save
- You can add in whatever information you like here - it’s purely so you have something to include in test sends to check your data fields pull through
- Repeat for any further fields you want to update
- Repeat for other email addresses you want to send test emails to
Once you’ve done that, the information you added will pull through in your test emails.
You can test your dotdigital campaign in the usual ways, such as from the toolbar in the Easy Editor:
If you’re not familiar with test sends in dotdigital, have a read of this dotdigital support article for more details.
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 - you’ll need to get in touch with these customers, and any who don’t have email addresses, by phone or post.
Repeat for subsequent Instances
Once you’ve sent your campaign, if you have more Instances to reschedule and contact customers about, repeat the process including the following stages:
- If you haven’t already, edit the next Instance to change the date/time and update the new Attributes
- Run the custom report for the next Instance
- Upload the output of the report to dotdigital
- Save the ImportFaults file from dotdigital
- Test your campaign
- Send your campaign
- Repeat for the next Instance
If you have any questions about this process or would like to discuss any of the stages in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team to talk things through.