Glitnir Ticketing: Better event seat-picking and ticket purchasing

About Glitnir Ticketing

Glitnir Ticketing provides feature-rich ticketing software, integrating 360-degree seat views, plus related services for athletic, performing arts, and multi-purpose venues throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The company’s system is recognized by MLB Advanced Media as an official ticketing vendor for its minor league baseball system.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

Glitnir boosts customer revenues and provides integrated 360-degree event seat selection for a faster, better ticket purchasing experience with Google Maps Platform and Google Cloud Platform.

Google Cloud Results

  • Increases event attendance and boosts revenues as much as 20% to 50% for customers
  • Provides fans with a richer, more fun, and faster seat selection and ticket purchasing experience
  • Grows customer base and expands to new markets while retaining 94% of customers
  • Dynamically scales for demand bursts of more than 10,000 seats held in 4,000 simultaneous shopping carts

360° views for selecting tickets for any seat in the stadium

Glitnir Ticketing was founded 15 years ago as an internet-first ticketing solution for minor league baseball stadiums. It established a leadership position with its pioneering unified solution for both online and on-site ticketing. Rather than marketing its own brand, Glitnir white labels its service for its sports and entertainment customers, who integrate the service into their own websites and on-site ticketing operations.

In a competitive industry, the company continually seeks to distinguish itself by providing more robust, feature-rich services that offer fans better purchasing experiences while helping customers increase sales and profitability.

The company was an early adopter of technologies to allow fans to visualize what it looks like from any particular seat in a stadium or performing arts venue. As technology evolved, Glitnir wanted to remain on the leading edge.

360-degree view from any seat

Glitnir developed its latest novel innovation using Google Maps Platform. With Google Maps, Glitnir created an integrated 360-degree seat viewer, using Street View, from any seat in the house. Photographers, certified with the Google Street View Trusted Badge, photograph each venue to help ensure high image quality and appropriateness guidelines are met. The technology allows fans purchasing tickets to check site lines to the playing field or performance stage, so they can get a truer sense of their view from different seats, allowing them to make a more informed purchasing decision.

“Once you get comfortable with how the Google Maps Platform and APIs work, you appreciate the consistency and simplicity. It’s straightforward to integrate and easy to scale, which is exactly what we want when handling high-traffic volumes and all sorts of unique customer needs from soccer stadiums to concert halls.”

Gordon Krstacic, Founder and CEO, Glitnir

For faster ticket purchasing and fewer abandoned shopping carts, the seat viewer is integrated seamlessly as part of a one-page shopping process. This is unlike other online ticketing sites that have clunky navigation for separate purchasing systems and seat picking systems, involving upwards of five to six steps on different web pages.

The result is a better, more true-to-life experience that is more interactive and visual, whether on a PC or a mobile device. For mobile device users, it’s particularly easy because Glitnir leverages mobile device gyroscope functions, with the view from a stadium seat rotating as the person changes the device’s orientation. For example, users can turn to look left and right to see how far a seat is relative to the home plate or first base. They can even look up and around to gauge where a roof overhang is located in relation to a seat, when a seat in the shade is preferred.

Glitnir showed off this capability with a gyroscope-equipped tablet at a recent trade show, demonstrating views from seats for FC Cincinnati soccer games at the 35,000 seat University of Cincinnati Nippert stadium, to rave reviews. “Our 360-degree seat view with Google Maps gives us a differentiator by 1000%,” says Gordon Krstacic, Founder and CEO at Glitnir. “Our customers were clamoring to try it out at our trade show booth, telling their friends, ‘You have got to see this.’ It really creates a splash and it’s helping drive sales.” Other 360 interactive view customers include the Greenville Drive Minor League Baseball team and the Long Island Ducks, Glitnir’s first team with the live 360 integration.

“Once you get comfortable with how the Google Maps Platform and APIs work, you appreciate the consistency and simplicity,” says Bill McLean, Founder and CTO at Glitnir. “It’s straightforward to integrate and easy to scale, which is exactly what we want when handling high-traffic volumes and all sorts of unique customer needs from soccer stadiums to concert halls.”

“Tens of thousands of people active on a server for one stadium, one section, one row, one seat, creates an extremely resource-intensive process. Keeping systems stable and allowing customers to purchase tickets smoothly and quickly, with a fantastic experience, is one of the greatest challenges in the business.”

Bryan Gray, COO, Glitnir

Capacity bursts for hot tickets

The company’s friction-free seat selection and ticket purchasing process is underpinned by Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Previously, the company depended on its own data center in Long Island, New York and would sometimes get overwhelmed by spikes in demand. “Tens of thousands of people active on a server for one stadium, one section, one row, one seat, creates an extremely resource-intensive process,” says Bryan Gray, COO at Glitnir. “Keeping systems stable and allowing customers to purchase tickets smoothly and quickly, with a fantastic experience, is one of the greatest challenges in the business.”

In the past, he explains, high-demand periods meant disabling the customer seat picking functionality and instead offering the best seats available as chosen by the system. Switching from a lower level Layer 3/4 load balancer to Layer 7 HTTPS with Google Cloud Load Balancing delivered the results Glitnir needed to handle thousands of simultaneous shopping carts holding more than 10,000 seats during bursts of activity. Now even during periods of peak purchasing activity, customers can still choose their own seats.

“With Google Cloud Load Balancing we can throttle up on demand and continue to offer all of our functionalities to the biggest events in the world, and that has given us a huge leg up on the competition,” says Bryan.

Glitnir runs scripts and MySQL on VMs using Google Compute Engine and uses Google Cloud Storage to store the data. “If we have a big event with tickets going on sale, we'll scale out multiple VMs with the load balancer and potentially with a database backend,” says Bill. The Glitnir IT team uses Google Stackdriver Monitoring to monitor its VMs so it can find and fix any issues faster.

Glitnir also uses GCP resources across locations that are close to its customers. “Our UK teams are being served out of Google data centers in Europe,” says Bill. “And our West Coast customers are served by Google resources in the Pacific zone, with East Coast customers served by cloud resources on that coast. It’s really enabled us to scale out and support our load balancing and growth needs. HTTPS rollout tools are standard. It’s all very consistent and predictable, which is great.”

A fuller-featured ticketing system

Glitnir’s system includes optional modules for patron ticket trading and re-sales, fundraising, online merchandise sales, marketing reports, email prospecting, and a CRM system. As part of its robust customer service orientation, Glitnir uses Google Domains and Google Cloud DNS for mapping subdomains for its customers. Each customer gets its own subdomain and its own email address, enhancing the marketing platform capabilities of Glitnir’s platform. “Our CRM and email marketing platform can save our customers tens of thousands of dollars by negating the need for a third-party system,” says Bryan.

Glitnir’s developers use Android and Android Studio for apps that allow customers to scan tickets on site with mobile devices, with enterprise-grade security and management features layered in. “We were able to migrate a legacy Windows Mobile ticket scanning solution to a modern ticket scanning app natively built for Android,” says Bill. “This migration allowed us to use standard Android build tools and deploy to a standard Android system image. As a result of the migration, the scanning app performs faster, is easier to manage, and will also deploy to future Android devices.”

“So many great tools for our developers are available under the Google umbrella, from the plethora of Google Cloud Platform tools to Maps and Android Studio—it’s a no brainer to use them and explore all the possibilities for how they can help our business.”

Bill McLean, Founder and CTO, Glitnir

The team is currently working with Firebase to support backend data storage, real-time synchronization, and user-event logging while allowing Glitnir to transition off a third-party monitoring app. Tag Manager helps Glitnir easily update code snippets and tags on its apps and websites via a web interface, without requiring developers to deploy new code when changes are needed.

“So many great tools for our developers are available under the Google umbrella, from the plethora of Google Cloud Platform tools to Maps and Android Studio—it’s a no brainer to use them and explore all the possibilities for how they can help our business,” says Bill.

Glitnir’s transition to GCP was simple. “We picked one customer from the Midwest to go all in on GCP,” says Bill. “We transitioned one server image from our data center on Long Island, easily lifting it using the tools provided by Google, without needing to modify the image. We tried the same with two other major cloud providers, and it wasn’t effective. Their tools weren’t as consistent or cleanly integrated. With GCP, we didn’t have to worry about forgetting some server parameter or some obscure system setting like with shared memory that we’ve seen before. It was seamless.”

Over two to three years, Glitnir has moved all of its customers from its data center to GCP. “Because we took the time to structure and organize it all, we are able to keep a very rigid and clean organization on GCP, so that we firewall all our customers and what happens with one customer doesn’t affect another,” says Bill.

“We appreciate having our customer information and credit card data backed by the highly secure Google Cloud Platform,” says Bill. “We let Google take care of PCI compliance so we can focus on helping our customers sell more tickets.”

A home run for revenues

Thanks to its technology innovations, Glitnir’s retention rate is a solid 94% and its customer base is up 20% in the past two years. Its customers, in turn, see upticks in ticket sales once the Glitnir system is introduced. “In our first year with Glitnir, we increased revenue in football by 20%,” says Dwight Covington, Director of Athletic Ticket Sales for Furman University. “We also more than doubled our revenue for men’s basketball and increased attendance, which has always been our goal.”

In the future, Glitnir’s plans include using Google BigQuery to collect data to better forecast ticket sales including analysis of impacts from weather, location, and other factors. It also anticipates integrating its system with Google solutions like Daydream, Google Assistant, and Google Home so that virtual reality users can tap into its stadium seat views and users of voice command tools can easily purchase tickets, to make ‘In Real Life’ events more accessible with virtual technologies.

About Glitnir Ticketing

Glitnir Ticketing provides feature-rich ticketing software, integrating 360-degree seat views, plus related services for athletic, performing arts, and multi-purpose venues throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The company’s system is recognized by MLB Advanced Media as an official ticketing vendor for its minor league baseball system.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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