Tuesday 11 December 2018

Offaly-based ticketing firm taking their 'game-changing' system of the future further afield

Liam Holton CEO Future Ticketing. Photo: © Michael Chester
Liam Holton CEO Future Ticketing. Photo: © Michael Chester
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

An Offaly-based startup, created to disrupt the ticketing industry, intends to double its turnover following significant expansion in the UK.

Led by Liam Holton, a former commercial manager of Punchestown Racecourse, Future Ticketing was born from the desire of maintaining strong customer connections.

"I've worked in sports and events for the last 20 years. In Punchestown, I remember going to market looking for a ticketing system but all the systems we looked at had been been outsourced to a different provider. So, your customer is brought on to a different site and you lose that relationship with the customer, you lose the data and essentially you lose the money," he told Independent.ie

"For me, that's like going into a shop and the shopkeeper telling you to go to the store down the road. That didn't sit easy with me. "

Holton reached out to his techie friend Mark Cotter - who now leads software development - with the concept and they starting working on a product that facilitates companies looking to retain that closeness with the customer.

By 2015, Future Ticketing had begun trading and the founders had moved into the business full time, but the development of the product they offer has never ceased.

"Our system evolves every day, we are constantly adding more functionality; we are currently on version 10 and are expecting to push out version 11 by November," said Holton.

"About 90pc of our system is built in reaction to client feedback. This allows us to roll out across so many different industries."

From selling tickets to the Santa Express experience to providing the capability of scale for a football match, Future Ticketing has learned to be flexible enough to cope with its various clients' requirements, while remaining GDPR-compliant.

In Ireland, marquee clients that they've won include Trinity College Dublin, the big racecourse hitters -  Punchestown, Curragh and Galway - and sports clubs such as Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, and Connacht Rugby.

Over the past 18 months, business has really boomed for the Tullamore team, with the addition of 45 new clients in the UK, including a number of racecourses and Europe’s biggest MMA franchise Cage Warriors.

"Most of our customers have come to us through word of mouth. Once we go into a sector, we perfect the system and people start coming to us. We managed to get a foothold in Yorkshire and now we have 15 or 16 racecourses.

"We also started with one League of Ireland football game about a year and a half ago and now we have about 90pc of them."

At its outset three years ago, the founding partners pumped their own money into getting Future Ticketing off the ground, with a bit of help from Mickey O'Rourke, the company chairman, who has also provided mentoring and support.

But the leap of faith has paid off as the company is set to double last year's turnover, and has ambitions to increase that turnover by double each year for the next five years.

"Based on our revenue rate so far this year, we've doubled the business of last year. Some of that is natural organic growth with existing customers expanding and selling more tickets, but we're also steadily expanding our client base," said Holton.

Part of the comfortable profits are being used to continue the software development of the system, and to grow the 12-strong team on average by one person every six weeks.

But while there are plans to set up an office in Yorkshire, and future sights set on mainland Europe and the US, the company has no intention of moving its Offaly headquarters.

"We are in the perfect place for a business of our type, we have access to the right kind of people, there's no challenge in terms of commuting. A better work life balance which leads to more staff loyalty and more staff engagement, once our staff are with you, they're with you, we have a very low turnover."

Holton said that Future Ticketing has "no fear" in taking its "game-changing" system further afield so that its ethos of revolutionising the way that people look at ticketing can be adopted more widely.

"There are organisations out there who don't want to have a relationship with their customers, groups who would rather keep their fans a distance.

"We're there for the people who want to have that engagement. We love being involved and we enjoy what we do."

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