E-ticketing takes Tattoo airborne

Insight from Adrian Hart, MD Redwing


Each year in mid-July one of the ticketing engines we create turns itself off. It’s not a bad thing, it’s designed to do that when all the tickets are gone and with the Air Tattoo that is pretty much guaranteed to happen. 


To use its proper name, the Royal International Air Tattoo is the world’s largest military air show and this year’s, held on 14-16 July, was another massive success. Held over three days, it attracts well over 100,000 visitors and we’re in charge of the technical solution that helps every one of them book their tickets, park their car and basically get all that they can out of the day. 


When we first started working with the Air Tattoo back in 2003 we created a new brand design and gave them all the tools they needed to run their Marketing and Communications. Fast-forward 14 years and the technical requirement is far more complex, and the solution more erudite, reaching beyond the event's look and feel to an integrated e-marketing and e-ticketing solution that allows them to manage many different aspects of the event: from making sure the tickets are for the right people, the correct number of days, with/without grandstand, upgrades, or access to the centenary lawn, or with bus rides included, and so on... Managing all of these variables on spreadsheets or with off-the-shelf booking software was becoming very difficult for such a big event, so in 2013 they asked us to build a system to do it all. 


Having built a similar solution for clients like Marlborough College Summer School this was by no means new to us, but it did require a leap in terms of application. 


From the start the solution was a simple one: scrap all the different ticket types they were selling, and just sell one e-ticket. Then give the purchaser all the options they need to personalise that ticket in the buying process (upgrading or booking onto the park & ride for the quickest route in) at the same time giving the organisers all that information to help them make the event run smoothly. And happily, the CRM tool they now have is so sophisticated that it’s revolutionised the way they run the event. 


With 100% of the tickets now sold online, the Air Tattoo now has the financial security of an upfront revenue stream, and the intelligence to analyse those sales. Depending on how various ticket types are selling, they can make dynamic changes to seating and alter the capacity of exclusive enclosures to satisfy demand during the sales phase if they wish. The system even helps them manage traffic flow, directing cars to specific car parks based on the ticket-holder’s post code, dramatically easing congestion and getting everyone in and out quicker. All of these things are quite invisible to the show-goer of course, but have significantly enhanced their experience. 


Perhaps even more important for the Air Tattoo organisers, with an online ticketing system that’s integrated seamlessly with the website, they retain 100% of the revenue (zero commission), 100% of customer information and 100% control of how to use it, while relying on 100% support from us at Redwing.  


It’s not all databases and stored procedures: in building the glossy front-end website we also enjoy the creative side of things and even put the Tattoo in touch with illustrator Wiek Luijken, who designs their wonderful annual theme that ends up on the website, posters and programmes. But in this case it’s the back-end CRM machine that’s been the real game-changer and that’s why we describe what we do as Creative Web Engineering


Incidentally tickets for the 2018 event are on sale shortly on airtattoo.com. They'll sell fast so get there early to avoid disappointment. 


The Air Tattoo has been a client of Redwing since 2003.

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