Windsor International Film Festival
“The Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) is manned by experienced but also new volunteers. We had to make life easier for our annual film festival.”
When WIFF started in 2005, it ran for three days at the (rented) historic Capitol Theatre, a venue that locals had fought hard to save from demolition.
By 2013, the festival was running for six days, and the Capitol was drawing thousands of cinema goers, and businesses, to the area.
As with any festival, it was a huge undertaking. In the month leading up to opening night, there were many sleepless nights. “There was a substantial increase in the crowds. I knew we needed a better software to carry us,” says Director of Patron Services, Jen Holson. So, in 2014, they searched online and found Veezi.
On opening day, the festival took over the Capitol, and Jen gave the volunteers a quick lesson at the counter… then left them to it. Within minutes, they could easily handle a variety of ticket options: from opening night to after-party to student rates—at the box office and online. They can also sell T-shirts, key chains, hats and tote bags—all in the same transaction.
Online sales start three weeks before the festival and the box office, located next-door to the Capitol, opens one week out. “This gives us the opportunity to make the box office look kick-ass, as well as iron out any glitches before the big opening night,” says Jen.
Festival lines get very busy, nerves kick in, and mistakes, like entering a ticket purchase twice, happen. Veezi’s efficient and detailed reporting allows Jen to drill down to the operator and the specific time an error occurred, all in a few clicks. This level of detail had not been available before. “The beauty of Veezi is it retains this information. As a not-for-profit, this level of accuracy and accountability for the distributors is very important”.
The festival continues to grow, now with around 30,000 visitors—still screening at the Capitol but with two other venues to accommodate the crowds. Throughout the year they also run a weekly screening at the Capitol to stay connected with their audience.
In 2018, the City of Windsor saw the value the festival brought to the community and made a generous donation so that WIFF could invest in upgrades to their point of sale hardware and purchase eight self-service kiosks to run the Veezi Kiosk software on. “The traffic was heavy. It added to the excitement at the box office, but the kiosks have made it more efficient for our patrons, adding to the professionalism and convenience of the festival, rather than having a full box office at the two additional venues,” Jen says.
“We bring on volunteers of all ages, and, regardless of age, they quickly pick up how to use the software. It’s so easy!” The festival is so popular that people take vacations to both attend and work at the festival. In fact, WIFF was awarded for being the number one volunteer-run film festival in Canada—a true testament to the entire WIFF team.
Come festival time, the Veezi support team operates as an extension of the WIFF team: “I can’t stress it enough, the Veezi team is amazing. We don’t need them often because everything works so well, but because we are a festival we need certain accommodations, and the team are always pleasant, quick to respond, and go the extra mile,” Jen exclaims.
“With Veezi, we are future-proofed,” Jen says confidently. It’s clear there are fewer sleepless nights leading up to the event.