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How crowdEngage Transformed the Edinburgh International Festival

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

The Edinburgh International Festival, founded in 1947, annually transforms Scotland's capital city into a global hub for performing arts each August. With a massive audience of over 120,000 attendees, the festival showcases dance, opera, music, and theatre talents from around the world. The festival's mission is clear and profound: to offer the deepest level of experience, through the highest quality of art, for the broadest possible audience.



The Challenge


The International Festival faced a significant challenge — delivering an efficient ticketing and communication experience for attendees navigating multiple events and venues.


A critical issue was the confusion among festival-goers who purchased tickets well in advance. The struggle to locate and manage tickets was primarily due to traditional email ticket delivery, which often buried tickets in cluttered mailboxes.


“People appreciate post-purchase follow-ups. After their initial confirmation email customers receive their e-tickets within minutes,” said Leon Gray, Head of Audience Experience at the International Festival. “However, due to the extended time gap until the actual performance, attendees often lose their ticket confirmation and e-tickets in cluttered mailboxes. The problem lies in ensuring all customers, whether they bought tickets months ago or recently, have the essential information.”


And even the most sophisticated and well-organised festivals face challenges such as cancellations, venue changes and other program disruptions. Real-time communication with ticket holders affected by these events is a crucial aspect of ensuring a successful festival that keeps attendees informed and satisfied.



The Solution


To address these challenges, the Edinburgh International Festival turned to crowdEngage, a strategic move that significantly improved the customer experience. Here's how crowdEngage elevated the festival:


Lightning-Fast Ticket Delivery via Text Messages:

crowdEngage enabled the International Festival to send tickets directly to customers' mobile phones via text messages just two hours before the showtime. This eliminated the problem of e-tickets buried in busy mailboxes.


Engaging Audiences with Text Messages:

The International Festival used crowdEngage's text messaging capabilities to share audio snippets about events from the Festival programme. These short, informative messages set the stage, enhancing attendees' understanding and appreciation of the performances.


“During the festival, we aimed to deepen audience engagement by providing context for the performances,” said Leon. “To achieve this, we pre-recorded 'audio introductions' – brief conversations between our Festival Director, Nicola Benedetti, BBC broadcaster Tom Service, and artists, serving as mini-podcasts – to provide insights into the upcoming events. These introductions were sent through text messages, enriching attendees' understanding and creating a more immersive experience as they travelled to the venues.”


Swift Problem Solving:

crowdEngage proved invaluable when the International Festival had to cancel a show shortly before curtain-up. The platform enabled the Festival to promptly inform impacted customers, mitigating negative feedback.


“One night, one of our International Festival shows was unavoidably cancelled just 25 minutes before it started,” said Leon. “Thanks to crowdEngage, we swiftly sent out text messages to inform the audience, and there was little to no negative feedback. This tool is a game-changer for handling such situations.”


Tailored Sub-Branding for Different Festival Events:

With crowdEngage, Edinburgh International Festival created customised sub-brands for various Festival happenings. This provided attendees with a consistent, branded experience across venues and events while offering venue-specific information through tailored FAQs.


A Responsive Support Team:

The crowdEngage support team, led by Jenni Gould, an expert in both festivals and the industry, provided rapid assistance and responses to support requests. Jenni played a pivotal role in ensuring a seamless platform rollout.


"We had the opportunity to work with Jenni, and her responsiveness to our inquiries was incredible,” said Leon. “Within half an hour of sending an email, she'd respond with, 'I've taken care of that for you. If you need anything else, feel free to ask.' Jenni demonstrated a deep understanding of the festival and the industry, which is quite rare. She knew exactly what was needed and delivered promptly. It's a testament to the entire team's dedication, but Jenni's expertise was invaluable to us.".



The Results


The implementation of crowdEngage yielded several positive outcomes:

  1. Customers appreciated the convenience of receiving tickets via text messages.

  2. Edinburgh International Festival’s audience engagement efforts were successful, enhancing the overall Festival experience.

  3. Challenges, such as last-minute show cancellations, were efficiently handled, minimising negative feedback.

  4. Customised FAQs tailored to different venues ensured a seamless and organised experience for attendees.


Leon Gray expressed his satisfaction, stating: "Looking back at 2022, it's hard to imagine how we delivered customer service excellence without crowdEngage. It's been a game-changer for us, and the positive feedback from all stakeholders has been overwhelming. It's made our festival experience so much smoother and more enjoyable for everyone involved."



Future Plans


Edinburgh International Festival plans to continue to refine its crowdEngage approach in the coming years. The organisation is eager to push the boundaries of the festival experience, seeking continuous improvements and innovations. Stay tuned for what's next in the world of the Edinburgh International Festival!


"As we look ahead to 2024, our goal is to employ crowdEngage in a more sophisticated and well-planned manner, building upon the success we experienced in 2023,” added Leon. “Although our usage evolved organically this year, we're eager to develop a structured plan for 2024 to maximise its potential even more.”



Learn More About crowdEngage


Contact us to learn more about crowdEngage and to schedule a demo with our solution experts.

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