The best ticket booking plugin for a Craft website...

By Paul,

May 2021

Web Dev
...Didn’t seem to exist. And what do you do when you can’t find the exact right plugin for a website? You build your own bespoke solution! Well, at least that’s what we do at Toward. In fact, it’s exactly what we did for Sudeley Castle.

Sudeley Castle and Gardens is a high profile and popular tourism spot with over 1,000 years of history. The castle and its grounds host events and attractions that change throughout the season. The branding and website project with Toward highlighted user experience issues with their existing ticket booking system.

Their old WordPress website used a plugin through WooCommerce which got them so far but was far from perfect. The client had such a complex shopping list of requirements that an off-the-shelf solution just didn’t exist. Quite rightly the client didn’t want to compromise on anything.

After understanding exactly what functionality they needed we decided the best solution would be to build a totally custom, bespoke ticketing system using Craft CMS and Craft Commerce.

Managing multiple events with one system

At the top of the wish list was the ability to set parameters on availability to different events and facilities throughout the year.

The new system allows Sudeley to define advance booking periods for admission tickets (i.e. the minimum number of days in advance that admission tickets can be booked)

Amongst other things, the new system allows the team at Sudeley Castle to

  • Define when their Peak/Off-Peak seasons starts and ends

  • Define seating time slots and capacities for their Afternoon Tea offering

  • Define what dates of the year Afternoon Tea is available or unavailable

The ticketing system we’ve built allows them to manage what’s available and when - and to rely on the fact that those things are very clear to website visitors. So clear, in fact, that there’s no margin for costly errors.

Screenshot showing date choosing step of ticket booking process

Managing admissions and ticket sales during COVID

The pandemic did a real number on the tourism industry. Not only because places had to keep closing but also because of the measures needed to keep visitors safe after re-opening. Sudeley Castle wanted to keep things orderly, stagger arrivals to minimise accidental clusters of visitors.

So, we added the ability to define:

  • Maximum number of admission tickets allowed per booking

  • Daily ticket capacity

  • Daily time slots and ticket capacity per time slot

Screenshot showing how time slots are added in CMS
Defining daily time slots in the CMS

Integrating with SagePay

What we’ve built for Sudeley Castle uses a custom-built integration with their existing payment gateway, SagePay. By doing this we’ve saved the client the administrative headache of switching to an alternative payment gateway tool.

Post-pandemic updates and improvements

Possibly THE best bit of all of this (‘this’ being the bespoke system built by Toward and dreamt up by the client) is that as their business evolves, we can make further iterations and improvements.

As their business needs have changed post-pandemic, we’ve made changes that...

  • Allow the client to define ‘Extras’ to help upsell during the ticket booking process

  • Update the ticket booking process to advertise upcoming events at Sudeley. Giving the client the ability to manually choose which events get advertised

  • Give Sudeley the ability to optionally add a new ‘Donation’ step at the end of the booking process. Sudeley Castle can define what organisation the donation is going to and how much per admission ticket will get added to order total via Craft CMS

Flexibility and scope for further customisation

We love that we’ve been able to provide the team at Sudeley Castle with a system that’s perfect for them. It met all their initial requirements but also gives scope for further updates and functions as and when they’re needed. They can manage ticket sales for all their various events and attractions without the limitations of an off the shelf solution

If you'd like to talk to us about a tricky problem you're trying to solve, get in touch.