Page 14 - Evolve Magazine Winter 2020
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Merlin Venue
In 1995 we were supplying retail products to a large
UK visitor attraction and were asked if we could
print admission tickets as part of the retail process.
A specification of requirements was produced and we developed software to meet this specification. It was
at this point that we moved into the selling of visitor admission systems to visitor attractions of all types
and sizes. Our software became more and more sophisticated as we started to understand the nuances involved in the management of a modern visitor attraction and new modules were added on a regular basis. However, in 2001 there was a real change in the situation when the then Chancellor announced that
any visitor attraction with charitable status could claim gift aid on the value of the admission fee, if the visitor was a UK tax payer. We had no knowledge of gift aid but by working with an existing client we created the first admissions system that allowed for the collection of gift aid on the tickets sold. Once again we won an innovation award for this product. This opened up a new marketing opportunity and we concentrated for a while on heritage properties. However, events overtook us with an almost overnight collapse of the retail sector in 2008 with the great ‘crash’. This situation sharpened our minds as to the way forward and we made the conscious decision to concentrate on visitor attractions for the foreseeable future. We added more and more modules to the system and then, in 2010 we launched Merlin ‘Venue’ at the Museums & Heritage Exhibition at Earls Court.
One area that we hadn’t addressed was online ticket sales, which was being requested by our clients.
To supply this feature we partnered with a company who specialised in online ticketing solutions. This product was integrated with Merlin and offered as
part of the total solution. By offering online tickets, it also meant that visitors could have ‘fast track’ entry to attractions and this could be via unmanned entrances. This led to the development of the first ‘talking’ turnstile which, after scanning the ticket, could welcome the visitor to the attraction, give them additional information or explain why their ticket hadn’t worked if there had been a problem with the scanning.
It was clear, by 2014, that the lack of an integrated ticketing solution for online sales that would link into our e-commerce module was becoming a problem.
We therefore decided to write our own online ticketing module and incorporate it into the new version. This
led to the release of Merlin® 8 in 2015, a fully integrated Venue Management Solution which offered the facilities being requested by our customers, all from one single package. The links to the 3rd party ticketing supplier were removed at the same time.
Other developments have taken place in recent years with an association with a factory in China which allows us to provide new style barriers, which allow the passage of able bodied and disabled visitors through
a single gate.
  Venue Management for Visitor Attractions
Our flagship software, Merlin 8, is the culmination
of years of research and development to create an all-in-one venue management system capable of unifying all business areas into a hub for insight and reporting. Our venue management tools are focused around helping you deliver consistently excellent experiences for your customers at every stage of their journey.
POWERFUL VENUE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
 Sell tickets, food and giftware within one powerful system
 Unify accounts and reporting, or split them between business areas
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