Does your museum need Tessitura?

Written by Dr Greg Turner
Published on 29 June 2017

Tagged under:

Tessitura CRM

About the author

Greg has been building websites for 17 years. He is an interaction designer and computer scientist specializing in emerging forms of interaction. A founding member of the Interaction Consortium, he is currently the CTO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

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That’s not such an easy thing to answer. Let us explain why. I was at Museums and the Web 2015, commiserating with staff from a few small museums who didn't have a way to sell tickets online. A speaker mentioned that their (major) museum sold tickets using Tessitura. The person next to me (from a small art museum with no ticketing) asked me how to spell it as she wrote it down. It struck me how much museums rely on each other’s technology choices, and how easily such reliance is formed.

Anyone who knows Tessitura well will realise that while it might suit a large organisation reasonably well, our conference-goer from a small art museum will quickly realise that it's too complex for her needs.

The rundown on Tessitura

We get why Tessitura is appealing: it claims to tick a lot of boxes; it’s ‘enterprisey’. But it’s also incredibly complex, and it wasn’t built for museums in the first place.

The system has origins in the performing arts so you have to use some unwieldy conceptual hacks to make it suit a museum’s needs.

Take creating an event for a new exhibition. In Tessitura, event programs are called 'seasons'. Each time an event happens, it's called a 'performance'. To sell tickets to a ‘performance’, you need to set up a ‘seating plan’.

GLAMkit's events model is powerful enough to jump through those hoops, but it's still a strange conceptual leap to have your museum pretend to be an opera house before it can track customer behaviour.

Tessitura might suit some

In general, we think Tessitura is at the top end of complexity for museums’ needs, but we know people use it and like it, and we can see benefits for some organisations.

It might be a good fit if:

  • Your museum is at the big end of town.
  • You have a five-figure operating budget for understanding customer behaviour.
  • You have a six-figure capital budget for configuring and implementing a CRM.
  • You have particularly complex business rules around membership and ticketing.
  • You can't find developers (like us!) who can integrate customer activity from simpler ecommerce systems into simpler CRMs, and would prefer a system that does it all.
  • You have access to developers who can work around the gaps in the user experience using an external ecommerce system.
  • The notion of 'enterprisey' software appeals to you.
  • You want to go to a fun annual conference.

But it’s not good for everyone

Your museum probably doesn't need Tessitura if:

  • You have fewer than 50 full-time employees.
  • You don't want to worry about self-hosting and planning upgrades.
  • You're considering other ecommerce solutions, and they have good APIs.
  • You have access to developers like us who are good at integrating systems.
  • You want a CRM that doesn't force your museum to pretend to have performances and seating plans just to let people into an exhibition.
  • You don't want to be locked in to Tessitura for ecommerce and user logins.
  • You want to be able to change or contribute to open-source CRM software (Tessitura’s NDA prohibits sharing of code that talks to its API).

If you’re not sure Tessitura is the best choice, the next post in the series offer some ideas on how to choose the right CRM for your museum.

Check out our other posts about Tessitura and CRMs for museums.

End of article.
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