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West End theatre ticket seller London Theatre Direct is using API connectivity with the major venues and theatre groups across the capital to allow customers to access more tickets across price points in real time, and is seeing sales surge as a result.

The online ticket seller is investing heavily in its APIs, allowing the various theatre groups in the capital to plug into the booking platform, drastically raising inventory. London Theatre Direct saw a quarterly rise in sales at API partner venues of more than 600 percent as a result.

Previously, websites like London Theatre Direct and its rivals Encore and Ticketmaster would be allocated a set number of tickets per show, meaning demand generally outstripped the supply any one site could provide, with 30 percent of West End tickets typically going unsold.

Now with API connectivity it can sell all available tickets across price points up to half an hour before the performance. The business is seeing customers generally up-selling themselves when given the choice, choosing pricier tickets than before.

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TIBCO's Mashery API management tool allows London Theatre Direct to monitor the various partners plugging into the central API.

As London Theatre Direct CEO Francis Hellyer describes it, Mashery is like "adding rocket fire underneath our existing API, adding additional security, scalability, speed and resilience."

"We wanted to ensure easy onboarding of clients, relevant and up to date documentation and a distributed architecture that would allow us to provide the best API solution possible," Hellyer explains.

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Only one major theatre group, Ambassadors (ATG), is resistant to API connectivity. It appears that a perceived handing over of control and data concerns are the remaining barriers for the owners of major theatres like the Apollo Victoria, Duke of York'' s and Savoy.

This appears to be something of an industry-wide problem, with Steve Hurn, senior vice president, EMEA, at TIBCO saying that those "resistant to change and new technology can perceive APIs as a loss of control."

However, the results of London Theatre Direct's use of APIs should be a clear sign of their overriding benefit, with Hurn adding that "they do in fact drive integration, collaboration, and flexibility, resulting in greater opportunities with the ability to sell tickets at the last minute, which is the ultimate game changer."

In an unusual public acknowledgment, Hellyer says he was interested in one of TIBCO's clients as much as the business' software. "The fact that the TIBCO Mashery platform’s existing client base includes a major airline that we want to work with was another factor," he says. "If theyd put faith in the Mashery solution, then that was good enough for us." 

Hellyer wants to extend the business' reach by getting its theatre-booking APIs onto other travel and leisure brands' sites, to sell them as auxiliary products. One name at the top of his list is budget airline Ryanair and its 120 million yearly customers.

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