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Edinburgh Festival powering ticketing firm’s rapid growth

09 September 2015

The ticketing software firm that has been at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and its recent growth to record ticket sales of 2.3m, has seen its own revenue reach £1million and international expansion start to take shape

Red61’s ‘VIA’ Ticketing System, which processed 2 million of those tickets this year, has enabled the world’s largest arts festival to cope with the rapid growth as demand continues to soar.
Now, the Edinburgh firm has revealed its setting its own records, with 40% year on year growth taking it to the record revenue, while it has also broken into several new overseas markets including Australia, Abu Dhabi, South Africa and Canada.
Managing Director, Tony Davey, is confident this level of growth will continue and even accelerate as he revealed the current success can mainly be attributed to referral business and word of mouth recommendations, with no real proactive sales campaign to date.
He said: “Seeing the Festival Fringe Society announce such huge ticket sales brings enormous pride to our business as our software has been at the heart of the festivals expansion. We’re especially proud as the Red61 team have also been running the Fringe Society’s ticketing operation since 2009.
“It is a phenomenal event to be a part of working with the Fringe Society and many of the fantastic venues across the Fringe. The vast number of people the Fringe pulls into Scotland is obviously great for the economy, but it also allows Scottish companies to demonstrate what they can deliver and that is exactly what has happened for us.
“Festival and event organisers come from all over the globe to participate or just to enjoy the Fringe and other Edinburgh festivals, and many of them have been so impressed by what we do on such a vast scale that they have asked us to replicate it for them.
“We are now looking to open an office in Australia to cope with the amount of business there. We provide the ticketing solution for South Africa and Canada’s largest arts and cultural festivals and we are expecting to begin similar projects in other territories later this year.”
Red61 have been working with Fringe venues since 2005 and now have 15 Edinburgh Fringe clients with the Fringe Society joining the network in 2009. People can now buy or collect tickets for shows from those 15 clients at any of the 47 sites in the Red61 ticketing network, which is the largest in the UK.
The real genius behind the success is the VIA Ticketing System. Red61 was founded in 2002 to build VIA, which is the brainchild of Tony and his business partner, software developer Peter McNaught.
Tony continued: “I worked in the event & ticketing industry before we started Red61 and realised that there wasn’t another ticketing solution that can do what the Edinburgh Fringe needs. I knew that if we could satisfy the Fringe requirements, we could do anything. 
“One of the unique facets of the software is that multiple VIA servers can talk to each other which enables us to cope with the huge demands of scale and geography and makes the network extremely resilient against server downtime.
“VIA’s ability to communicate with other VIA servers also provides a powerful tool with which clients can collaborate with other venues, ticket sellers and media partners. The whole aim is to make it easy to get your tickets out there through multiple channels, and make it easy for people to find information and make a purchase.”
Red61 has seen its Edinburgh head count grow from 15 to 25 FTE in the last two years, resulting in a move to bigger premises in the Leith area of the city.
The firm also has a pool of up to 85 staff based in the centre of Edinburgh that manages the ticketing operations for the Fringe Society as well as a number of other clients including the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the Abu Dhabi Science Festival, Edinburgh Mela, the Edinburgh International Magic Festival and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.
Red61 also provide VIA for the Edinburgh International Book Festival who announced that this year’s programme was the most successful in its 32-year history. VIA is used for 7 of the 12 Edinburgh Festivals.
The firm’s Edinburgh success has also spread to the rest of the UK and it is now working on numerous projects south of the border including the Brighton Fringe, Hullabaloo in Stratford Upon Avon, the Pleasance London and the Rugby World Cup Fanzone run by Underbelly in Richmond, London.
Perhaps most impressively Red61 has seen this level of growth without any sales staff or proactive selling of its own, something Tony is now looking to change.
“We’ve known for some time that we need to be louder and more proactive about what we do and we have now put an aggressive expansion plan in place to allow us to do so.”
Last week, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society announced that after 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows, in 313 venues the colossal event had issued an estimated 2,298,090 tickets resulting in an increase of 5.24% on 2014.
Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: “Red61 has been our ticketing service provider for almost seven years now and I truly believe that during that time we have developed more of a partnership than a business arrangement.
“The team at Red61 are a great support to us throughout the year and their expertise means that we are able to focus on our events and customer experiences during the festival.”

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