Keytree is just the ticket for Assembly

Who is Assembly? Assembly has been organising live events across the UK for more than 35 years and has a long standing reputation for delivering a high quality programme and showcasing new talent. Part of Assembly’s portfolio includes the production of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and as the longest running multi-venue operators at the Fringe, it delivers performances at more than 20 venues. In 2014, Assembly delivered over 300,000 tickets to its wide variety of shows.

During the summer of 2015, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe, Assembly Festival delivered more than 160 live shows during this busy four-week period in Scotland. Assembly works hard all year round and produces shows at the Brighton Comedy Festival and the prestigious Riverside Studios in London.

Online ticketing

Selling tickets online to such an array of shows is an essential element of the whole operation and an area that needed reviewing. In 2014, the Assembly site managed almost 8,000 ticket sales during the month of August with customers buying tickets for one of its many Edinburgh Festival shows. Although this was accomplished, the team at Assembly felt the website could do better – it could be more robust and responsive, especially at the busiest time of the year.

The digital ticket sales experience required a revamp so it could offer daily deals and last minute bookings. To assist with the upgrade Assembly approached Keytree and got to work with our team of User Experience experts.

Enter stage left – Keytree

A complete redesign of the website was requested. Keytree retained the existing ticketing solution, provided by Red61, which integrated into the new applications supplied by Keytree. The team at Assembly provided full support and input from the start – they shared their ideas and creativity, as well as their operational experience.

Keytree then mapped out the relevant actions, addressing the needs and requirements for the overhaul.

The Assembly website manages low sales volumes in the month of May, and this builds significantly to extremely heavy usage in July and August – in the lead up to events at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Volumes then reduce massively until the next festival (The Brighton Comedy Festival) where the cycle starts again.

Selecting a hosting solution for Keytree was relatively easy as their partner, Amazon Web Services, provides an ‘elastic beanstalk’ solution that immediately scales up as it is needed. This approach helps to keep the website one step ahead of the demand, and financially it is a perfect solution as you only pay for what you use.

William Burdett-Coutts, Artistic Director at Assembly, said: “The web experience is now the primary tool for informing the public about shows and helping them decide what tickets they would like to purchase.

The functionality created for this has been terrific, and we look forward to this making our public’s enjoyment of the festival easier.”

“Assembly Today”, the newly designed app, will give instant access to tickets and special deals and these offers will be available only on the day of the event – to support the spontaneous nature of the fringe festival.

The process

Keen not to over complicate the solution, Keytree kept the ‘learning curve’ to a minimum – to allow the Assembly team to continue its focus on promoting the festival and make it another huge success.

To ensure this was the case, Keytree implemented the best platform for the team to use and manage – WordPress. Partly due to its open source nature but also because the Assembly team had previous experience using this Content Management System.

Using a bespoke plug-in for WordPress, built by Keytree, which integrates the ticketing solution, it delivers a highly responsive front end that provides a smooth, efficient and fast experience. It also creates a visual experience that accurately reflects the dynamic and energy charged experience, which is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Jonathan Maher, Keytree’s Director of Experience Design, said: “We are very excited to have been chosen to re-develop the Assembly website this year. It was an excellent opportunity for us to demonstrate the benefits of an adaptive website, improve content and reduce the bounce rate of visitors (the percentage of visitors that see only one page during a visit to your site).

Furthermore, after some research on the existing site we felt a mobile application that offered “daily deals” during the festival would be a great enhancement to the overall Assembly experience.”

“We are very excited to have been chosen to develop the Assembly app this year. It was another great project for us to demonstrate our consumer facing credentials beyond our core enterprise solutions. Both teams were also very enthusiastic about the project, so it felt like a natural fit.”

Mark Williment – Head of Technology, Keytree

The App

Developed by Mobile User Experience experts Keytree, the Assembly Mobile Festival App is designed to offer the public an easy way to buy tickets and find ticket offers. The App allows festival attendees to:

  • Purchase Assembly Fringe tickets directly from their iPhone
  • See last minute offers with exclusive discounts for shows on a particular day
  • Browse the day’s available shows for Assembly’s 2015 programme
  • Filter shows by genre, location and time
  • Share shows with friends by email, Twitter or Facebook
  • View reviews and location of each event listed
  • Check ticket availability and navigate multiple events with maps linked to every performance
  • View favourites stored from the user’s Assembly website account

“Hats off to Keytree for their work and for their understanding and support for probably one of the most complex performance scenarios in the world. Appropriate given that the Edinburgh Festival is perhaps the greatest live performance event in the world”.

William Burdett-Coutts – Artistic Director at Assembly

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival and runs every August.