Case study

Lifting Barriers from Mobile Box Offices

Photo Credit: Marc J Chalifoux Photography


Performing Arts, Fringe Festivals


Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Customer since


The Client: Fringe Theatre 

Fringe Theatre exists because theatre exists, and what exists here doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. We are Edmonton-grown and Edmonton-owned, and the vibrant success of Fringe Theatre is thanks to the more than 38,000 artists who have bravely taken an artistic risk with us since we first exploded onto the scene in 1982. We cultivate ongoing collisions between community and art all year long. We produce North America's largest, longest running Fringe Festival. We transform theatre, nurture audiences, take chances, and provide a unique, evolving experience known as fringing. Come to our house and fringe.

The Ticketing Solution: Red61

Red61 is an Edinburgh based ticketing software, services and consultancy business.  Red61 have delivered preeminent performance with the Ticketing System and its Ticketing Services in some of the most testing and complex arts environments in the world.  In working with their clients, they have developed a configurable software solution that allows clients to control - and change - their visitor experience.  Working in a spirit of constant innovation, Red61's audience engagement software and solutions now benefit major cultural venues and arts festivals worldwide. With every client, Red61 works collaboratively to eliminate traditional box office challenges and to figure out what technological improvements can be made to improve the visitor experience.  With a wide-range of audience management and ticketing expertise on their team, Red61 specialises in working with clients to build creative and flexible solutions that improve existing businesses or are the strong foundation on which to build new ones.

The Situation

Fringe Theatre operates the Chinook Series - a winter festival incorporating diverse art from around Alberta - and the Offer What You Will program. It was the Fringe Theatre's ultimate goal to offer their customers an improved experience: a flexible, customer-first and easy way to purchase Offer What You Will tickets. At the same time, Fringe Theatre wanted a solution to manage an off-site box office for the Chinook Series. Both the Chinook Series and the Offer What You Will program required technology and the supporting workflows to enable a unique and seamless experience for customers.

Chinook Series

Fringe Theatre's most difficult challenge with the Chinook Series was the lack of an adequately equipped off-site box office in a non-conventional space. With a need for affordable technology, they looked to Red61 for a new approach that would take the experience to new levels.

While Fringe Theatre was using Red61's platform to sell tickets and passes already, they had an ongoing challenge with off-site box office capabilities. Red61 launched an integration with Square earlier this year to provide an affordable, simple to set up payment integration feature now offered to clients through their ticketing platform. Fringe Theatre evaluated their needs for the Chinook Series and collaborated with Red61 on a unique way to integrate Square into their at the door sales by using Red61's Front of House (FOH) mobile app to improve their box office experience. Fringe Theatre gave the Square payment integration its first test run during their Chinook Series in February 2019. 

Offer What You Will

The Offer What You Will program lifts financial barriers for Edmontonians to make theatre accessible for everyone. Customers can offer a dollar amount that they are able to contribute in order to attend a performance. 

Up until the adoption of new technology, Offer What You Will could only be processed on the day of the performance at the box office computer by overriding the ticket price in the back-office application. To avoid sending customers back to the box office if they arrived at the door, Fringe Theatre wanted to lift all technology and payment barriers to enable the processing of Offer What You Will transactions at the door.

The Solution

For the Offer What You Will program at the Chinook Series, Fringe Theatre and Red61 came up with an innovative solution for how to sell the door ticket in the FOH app: the ticket was processed in the FOH app and through Square, staff were able to type in dollar values with variable amounts (i.e. the amount the customer wanted to pay), and tapped the payment card for a contactless payment for credit and debit cards to get them into the show quickly.

While the adoption of Square and the Offer What You Will program were initially unrelated, they quickly became complementary as one supported the success of the other. 

Photo Credit: Marc J Chalifoux Photography

Focus on the Customer

"This feature made customers feel special. 

It was like a 'spark of joy' for them going to the entry."

Bradley King

Information Systems Analyst, Fringe Theatre

The Results

By introducing contactless payments with Square with the FOH app for the Offer What You Will program, everything from the customer's experience to the efficiency of box office operations were improved.

Highlights included:

Quick, easy and convenient at the door ticket sales for customers and staff.

Variable payment amounts were processed quickly.

Elimination of manually printed tickets that were previously sold at the door.

Easy reconciliation process.

Simple, quick training for Front of House and Box Office staff.

The solution was able to take advantage of existing cell phones and the built-in NFC readers -  no additional hardware required.

By the numbers: 

Chinook Series 

41% increase in sales from the previous year

22.3% of all sales are Offer What You Will tickets 

$10.99 is the average price paid for Offer What You Will tickets

71% of customers buy in-person for the Series

54.4% of tickets are sold on the same day of the performance

In Conclusion: A solution for now - and the future

By introducing Square payment processing with the FOH app for the Chinook Series and the Offer What You Will program, Fringe Theatre saw their customer satisfaction levels soar. They were able to vastly improve the customer experience by enabling efficient at the door ticket sales for the Offer What You Will program by introducing customized dollar amounts that could be processed with quick contactless tap payments. By working together with Red61 to roll out this feature, they now have a mobile box office solution that supports a ticketing program that was designed to remove barriers.

Fringe Theatre and Red61 collaborated at every stage of the process to develop a solution that exceeded the Fringe's goals, enabling both organisations to participate in launching a new payment feature together for a mobile box office.

Fringe Theatre wants to continue removing barriers at their festivals and events by further extending this mobile box office solution throughout their operations. The knowledge derived from this project means they can successfully plan for future mobile box office locations, train additional staff and volunteers, and obtain more of the mobile phones used successfully with the solution.

For Red61, the commitment continues to provide innovative features to extend the capabilities for mobile box offices in an ever-evolving marketplace.

For more information about Fringe Theatre, the Chinook Series and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival visit: