Photo: Scott CookAccesso's clients range from amusement park operators such as Universal Studios and Six Flags to the International Speedway in Daytona Beach and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio.
Small Business 2013 - Software
A New Ticket to Success
Accesso leveraged cloud storage and mobile applications to engineer a new business model for the ticketing business.
Once upon a time, a trip to an amusement park typically began with a wait in line to buy tickets at the ticket booth — the first of many waits.
In 2002, as airlines began to experiment with online check-ins and at-home printing of boarding passes, a Lake Mary company called Cygnus began offering similar services to theme parks. With Cygnus’ proprietary technology, guests could buy tickets online and print them on their home computers.
Within a few years, the Florida company was handling the print-at-home and kiosk ticketing operations for Universal Studios, Six Flags, Hershey Park and Cedar Fair.
But while its software was a success, Cygnus struggled with its internal operations. The company invested heavily in software development, cash was tight and it lost theme park customers because it was slow to pass along revenue from ticket saless.
Cygnus’ problems, however, didn’t deter Steve Brown when he was approached about becoming the company’s CEO in late 2007. “The business just had not been well managed, and that’s when I saw an opportunity,” says Brown, a former vice president of ticket strategy and sales at Six Flags and a 16-year Disney veteran.
“Knowing the ticketing business well and knowing that the technology was a really interesting platform, I thought I can take a crack at making this business model work more successfully,” Brown says. He reorganized the company under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws and gave it a new name, Accesso.
Brown also changed the firm’s business model. Some competitors essentially sell software that a client — a theme park, zoo or other attraction, for example — must install on its servers at the venue and then maintain with its own IT staff. Brown decided Accesso would essentially store its applications on remotely hosted servers — a private “cloud” — that clients could access via the internet.
By assuming the burden of maintaining and operating the software, Accesso has been able to provide better service. The firm’s operations team works with clients on a daily basis to set up or configure tickets for sale, test all tickets and provide any other support. “We’re doing everything from the online sale to the follow-up if there’s a challenge to processing the credit card payments, to the follow-up emails for any notifications.” Customers, he says, “don’t have to do anything except turn it on, and we take care of the whole program.”