Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival is arguably the largest regional event of its kind in New Zealand and is delivered by the Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival Foundation. It presents over 90 events starring over 1,000 artists from the local, national and international creative communities.
It’s predominantly staged within the magical setting of the Hamilton Gardens, as well as at key venues in the Hamilton CBD. During the 10 day festival, over 50,000 arts-loving attendees enjoy the varied programme. Music, theatre, dance, comedy, family events and arts experiences provide opportunities to inspire, and to be inspired, enriching the lives of audience members, performers and volunteers alike.
Their ticketing partnership with Eventfinda began in 2021 following frustrations with their incumbent ticketing software.
Functionality, flexibility and responsiveness
The festival became increasingly frustrated with its previous ticketing supplier due to their slow or non-existent responses to queries, clunky functionality and the lack of access to customer data. Eventfinda was a breath of fresh air as it solved these pain points instantly. Festival director, Geoff Turkington recalled,
“If we hadn't changed ticketing providers, we would have faced challenges. It was slow, we had no access to data or any control over our audience experience. Changing ticketing providers had a significantly positive impact on our ability to maximise revenue generation. With funding and sponsorship becoming even more challenging, leveraging our ticketing platform became our survival mechanism.”
Turkington needed the new provider to be partnered with the Hamilton i-SITE so, alongside the superior service and features, it was a no-brainer to go with Eventfinda.
“Eventfinda stood out due to their customer service, flexible features and ability to innovate. Now, I couldn’t be more pleased with how well Eventfinda works for us,” he said.
White Label Ticketing benefits their varied and mixed programme
Turkington found the platform to be professional and all-inclusive for the varied programme they curated. The mixture of paid and free events, and Eventfinda’s flexibility to accommodate all event and ticket types, resulted in their set-up becoming far more simple. He said,
“As a festival, we have a lot of free events as well as paid ones. The fact that Eventfinda supports all of these despite not making revenue from the free ones shows they are doing what’s best for their customers. This makes my life so much easier as our White Label subdomain showcases our complete programme in one place.”
The festival operates with a small team so their ticketing platform needs to be user-friendly and do lots of the heavy lifting for them,
“The nimbleness to own the set up of our ticketing and be able to be responsive as the market dictates was a must. And, if there’s something the system doesn't do, they’ll probably try and build it for us. Our White Label Ticketing with Eventfinda is an asset to our sales and overall success,” he added.
Pandemic disruption stress eased by the Eventfinda team
The Covid-19 pandemic caused disruption to both the 2021 and 2022 festivals, with the latter being completely cancelled. Turkington recalls,
“Our account manager contacted us within 15 minutes of the Prime Minister announcing the lockdown. Within an hour or two, all our comms had gone out via Ticketholder Communications.”
This responsiveness was appreciated by the festival’s ticketholders too.
“In our post-festival survey, our Ticketholder Communications around Covid received 10/10. That is completely a consequence of the responsiveness of our account manager. I can not speak highly enough of the service we received and continue to receive from Eventfinda,” noted Turkington.
2023 sees the festival enter its 25th year of business. Alongside Eventfinda’s technology, it can tackle the challenges of managing a large programme with less staff more efficiently.
“Eventfinda’s platform has taken the stress away. We are an under-resourced organisation so everything we do and the tools we use have to be fast and responsive. I can set and forget Eventfinda and trust it to do the job,” said Turkington.
Eventfinda’s reporting also aids the festival in tracking where their audience comes from and how many tickets they purchase which helps them target offers and promos when the opportunities arise. He added,
“We can literally do things live. If we have an event opening in an hour and have 20 tickets left, I can login and create an offer. I might load up a 50% off promo and then the i-SITE can sell those discounted tickets right away.”
“We very loudly recommend Eventfinda to the entire industry. It’s a New Zealand owned company, nimble to use and they are genuinely trying to do the very best for the industry as a whole.”