Angling Trust

The design and development of an online booking system for the Angling Trust

Introduction to the Brief

In early autumn 2016, the Angling Trust approached us to help overhaul their competition ticketing system.

Fish 'O' Mania is the most popular event ran by the Angling Trust. The final is televised on Sky Sports, it is sponsored by Barry Hearn's Matchroom Sport and the winner takes home £50,000 so it's no surprise it attracts thousands of anglers from across the country.

In previous years, entry was dictated by a ballot system with paper tickets. If you have entered the Great North Run or the London Marathon it follows a similar process; you sign up online and if you are successful you participate and money is taken from your account.

On paper this sounds ideal. Anglers are truly chosen at random for each event. In reality, many anglers ended up purchasing tickets for multiple events to increase their odds of passing the ballot. There was a vast administrative overhead dealing with printing and mailing out thousands of tickets, cancelling tickets and reassigning tickets to new anglers. From the outside, the most disappointing aspect was that some anglers ended up with several tickets whilst some ended up with none at all. The whole set-up felt unsatisfactory for all parties.

The Solution

The proposed solution involved an online system where Angling Trust administrators could set up competitions and stipulate rules and conditions which meant a fairer system for all.

Creating a fairer system was specifically developed around the Angling Trusts flagship tournament, Fish 'O' Mania, where there is an initial window of ticket sales limiting purchases to two per person. Once everyone has had a chance to purchase the restriction would be lifted so members could buy as many tickets as they liked. This meant members only bought tickets for events they wanted to fish instead of events just in case they didn't get a ticket, and more importantly everyone who wanted the opportunity to fish could enter.

An integrated process

Use of Attendize

We are already fans of Laravel in the Cargo office, when we found Attendize. It gave us the perfect leg up and meant we could concentrate on the Angling Trust specific issues like integrating the membership database, members only events and ticket restrictions instead of dealing with technically mundane tasks like shopping baskets and dealing with payment gateways.

Load testing

The Angling Trust were keen to stress how popular ticket launch day was with their members. We were told to anticipate literally thousands of users frantically trying to buy tickets to make sure they could participate in their event of choice. We turned to Loader for some load testing, we were confident we could comfortably accommodate three times the anticipated traffic before the website would start to see issues.

Integrating with Fixtures live membership database

The Angling Trust use Fixtures Live to provide membership details. They provided us with an API to access their data in real time to make sure members' details are always up to date.

Conclusion

The project provided a number of challenges new to us. Integrating with existing membership databases, and dealing with ticket sales was a branch of e-commerce we hadn't experienced before, provided some interesting challenges.

We are over the moon with this project. Not only have we delivered something others couldn't, we have changed an organisation's - now client's - thinking on how digital can help their day to day lives. Processes are quicker, smoother and as they said themselves, enjoyable. On the business front, over 70 events have been created in the 3 months following launch, generating a six-figure income. That's not to mention the time saved in staff labour - and you can't put a cost on job satisfaction and intrinsic experience can you?

"The portal Cargo have built has helped AT engage with digital technology in a way we never have before. They delivered where others failed, and transformed our thinking. Our usual 3 month plus process to organise a competition has been reduced to a streamlined, comprehensive and enjoyable experience for our staff"

Ben Thompson - Senior Competitions and Talent Development Manager
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