Stage and web screen came together this week for the launch of the Joburg Theatre’s new online ticketing system – allowing patrons not only to buy tickets online, but also print them out at home. That was just one of a string of big announcements at the launch. Former world Latin dance champion Jason Gilkison was on hand to announce that the acclaimed Burn The Floor show would be coming to Johannesburg in July – and therefore one of the first that can be bought online on the new site.
Step into Joburg Theatre – formerly the Civic Theatre – today, and it’s not only the name change that will strike you. At each door, you are greeted by a high-tech scanning device, looking lkike somnething out of a Star Trek movie. It is merely a barcode scanner, but one that represents a revolution in South African theatre-going.
The scanner is designed to read and verify tickets printed off patrons’ own computers. on their own printers, at home.
At a media launch to announce the innovation, Joburg Theatre sprung another surprise: Jason Gilkison, multiple world Latin dance champion and guest judge of “So You Think You Can Dance””, was on hand to announce that his acclaimed Burn The Floor show, fresh from Broadway, would be coming to Johannesburg in July.
Burn The Floor will thus be among the first shows to benefit from the high-tech revolution, Joburg Theatre marketing manager and associate producer Claire Pacariz explains the evolution of the new service:
Every successful business frequently looks at change. Not change just for the sake of it, but change in order to update its image and refresh its attractiveness.
Since 2000, under the leadership of its Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Jay, Joburg Theatre has seen many such changes.
Mogapi Mokgautsi, Joburg Theatre Manager, with the new scanners
First, the successful move from being a producing house to a receiving house. Since 2000, Joburg theatre has hosted over four hundred productions from South Africa and across the globe and welcomed more than three million patrons through its doors.
In 2002, former President Nelson Mandela bestowed the honour on the theatre of allowing the main 1069-seat auditorium to become known as the world’s only Nelson Mandela Theatre:
In early 2009, the theatre complex morphed its image from the historically staid name of The Johannesburg Civic Theatre to the more streetwise and accessible Joburg Theatre. And this name change in itself marked the beginning of what we see today at Joburg Theatre: a focus on remaining the destination of choice for Joburgers seeking world class entertainment.
Joburg Theatre recognises that customer retention and loyalty forms the cornerstone for all successful companies. This is even more applicable in the extremely competitive live entertainment industry of today’s South Africa, where diverse shows are competing for people’s time, attention, commitment and wallets. Good customer management enables companies to ensure that the services they provide are constantly updated and in line with what the customer expects.
Joburg Theatre has been frustrated by its inability to achieve its desired level of customer management by its dependency upon an external service provider as its ticketing agent. Consequently, the management team at Joburg Theatre has spent the past two years in thorough research of the alternative options open to the theatre.
A conversation in December 2009 between Bernard Jay and Salomon Erasmus, founder and managing director of Smart Fan, on how to develop better connections with patrons resulted in the deployment of Smart Fan’s customer management platform. This platform integrates leading access control, ticketing, membership management, web platform, online retail and CRM Technologies and processes into a single open platform. Smart Fan now provides this as a bespoke managed solution ‚ in day-to-day development and partnership with Joburg Theatre.
The new theatre website will make the purchase of theatre tickets easier than ever before in South Africa. The web site will be the main driver of ticket purchasing for Joburg Theatre in the future. Patrons can visit www.joburgtheatre.com and purchase their print-at-home e-ticket off the Internet, or call the theatre’s new direct ticketing line on 0861 670 670.
Tickets for Joburg Theatre’s shows will no longer add the traditional ticketing agency booking fee, so the price you see advertised is the price you pay. Consequently, the theatre’s tickets are no longer available at Computicket, where this additional fee would still have been applied.
Joburg Theatre has also launched a loyalty club. Together with the new web ticketing system, Joburg Theatre this week introduced The Red Velvet Club, a membership programme designed to reward its loyal theatre patrons with more incentives, more rewards and more pampering than ever before. For more information on The Red Velvet Club, visit www.joburgtheatre.com or call the club’s new hotline on 0861 870 870.
Comedian Eugene Khosa and Joburg Theatre CEO Bernard Jay at the launch.