Houston Grand Opera (HGO) was founded in 1955 through the joint efforts of Maestro Walter Herbert and cultural leaders Mrs. Louis G. Lobit, Edward Bing and Charles Cockrell. From its modest beginnings – HGO's inaugural season featured a mere two performances of two operas, Salome and Madame Butterfly – HGO has grown into a company of international stature. HGO's mission is to contribute to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation by producing and performing world-class opera, and by creating a diverse, innovative, and balanced program of performances, events, and community and education projects that reach the widest possible public. Its core values are excellence, relevance, and affordability. One of the country's principal commissioners and producers of new works, HGO has introduced 47 world premieres and six American premieres since 1973. HGO has received a Tony Award, two Grammy Awards, and two Emmy Awards—the only opera company in the world to have won all three honors.
The Opera wanted to portray their artistic aesthetics and mission in a highly attractive site which could be edited, published and updated by HGO staff members. The primary goals were to reduce the duplicative effort required to enter event information into Tessitura as well as the exiting CMS, which was limiting in nature. Also, it was imperative that the solution allow for exponential addition of the rich media assets and information associated to events. The ability to manage video, audio, collections of like events, grouping and sorting were key to the sites usability.
The Web design team had to meet the following objectives:
- Integrate the site with Tessitura, the box office software used by HGO.
- Integrate and customize a content management system (CMS) that would give HGO marketing staff members full control of content creation and publication.
- Improve the Events Calendar both in terms of administration and presentation.
- Incorporate HGO’s sister site, HGOco, into the selected CMS as an integral part of the website.
- Create reusable widgets that fetch real-time event data based on user input, creating truly dynamic and compelling screens tailored to users’ needs.
iMedia’s long-standing relationship with various performing arts companies gave the company a deep understanding of customer needs. With web technology experience combined with a user-focused approach, iMedia recommended that HGO use the Ektron CMS as its content management solution. On demand, or fully automated, Houston Grand Opera can now create rich performance content for events as they are created in Tessitura and “connected” to the web where editors can apply as much decorative content as they need. Editors now have the control over web content that they lacked previously.
iMedia, an Ektron Elite Partner, utilized the content management system’s PageBuilder functionality, allowing editors to re-use content assets across many screens. Editors easily drag and drop custom widgets that assemble real-time data and present video, audio, social, and otherwise related content on highly dynamic screens. Editors create complex pages with ease, creating a rich user experience that leverages HGO’s social presence, their community site, HGOco, and HGO’s blog, and most important, drives ticketing and donor interactions through Tessitura.
iMedia’s efforts in the implementation focused around conversion. Widgets were built to fetch upcoming or past events based on various user criteria, always serving up the most relevant content for users, which drove more ticketing revenue. Users can also more easily find and buy tickets through an improved design, architecture and navigation scheme. In any performing arts organization, calendar-based event searching is key. HGO now has dynamic calendar widgets that allow filtering on performance type and quick access on all screens to buy tickets.
HGOco, Houston Grand Opera's unique initiative that builds new and lasting community relationships by telling stories with words and music, has now been incorporated fully into the main website.
“There is no question that our new site, developed with iMedia, has increased our online sales. We’ve seen a consistent 20% increase in the number of online single ticket transactions vs. last year. Patrons have been very complimentary not only of the way the site looks, but in the ease of navigability and function.” - Greg Robertson, Chief Advancement Officer, Houston Grand Opera