The idea to create Boxxo took a long time to ripen the mind of President Bernard Boissonneault. With several years of solid experience in the cultural and box office fields, one day, Bernard came to a sad realization. “All these ticketing companies I had been working for were based on the same model – a large network with points of sale all over the place and that made its money off service fees. I was thinking that if I had a theater, that’s not the model I would want. Instead, I would want a tool that lets me take care of my customers, to have more control and independence. I would want something that lets me focus on customers and their brands while tying in accounting and marketing.”
One day in Paris in 1995, Bernard was having a drink with a friend who asked him what he would do if he did not have a job. Bernard candidly replied that he would create a whole new ticketing system. A few years later, he took his love for IT and started making his dream a reality. He began researching the feasibility of his project and looking at which strategy would help him successfully reach his goal. When it came time to name his company and products, he decided that using the same name for both would help avoid confusion. He also wanted the name to be short and easily pronounced in French, English and Spanish. Thus, the name “Boxxo” emerged from contracting the words “box” and “office.”
Hard at Work
Bernard was the administrative director of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde when he decided it was time to throw all his energy into his project. Although he was quite attached to the theatre, he decided to leave his position. At home, he programmed the very first version of what would become Boxxo Classique, a software program for people involved in theatre and ticketing, and not for the resale network.
Although he had no guarantees that this project would eventually lead to success, Bernard worked tirelessly, putting in twelve-hour days for two years until the new software program was finally designed!
The start of a great adventure
Bernard wanted to test out his intuition for how to create and use the software programs, so he started seeking out organizations to work with. Among those who agreed to take part in this work-in-progress were the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal, Espace Libre, the Théâtre La Chapelle and the Théâtre du Grand Jour, all of which had different needs. The good news began to spread; a new, innovative product that looked nothing like anything before seen was entering the market.
The Musique’en nous festival, which takes place in August and where we practically saw Pierre Lapointe’s career take shape, contacted Bernard and insisted on seeing this new product. They were thrilled and purchased it, even though it was not yet officially for sale.
That’s when things really started moving. In February 2002, the company Boxxo was officially founded. It moved into its first offices in August of that same year and established itself on St. Laurent Blvd., where it stayed for four years. From the very beginning, Boxxo’s team was entirely made up of people in the ticketing industry who understand the milieu and its imperatives.
Bernard quickly took on his first intern, Ardian, who had just finished his studies in Europe and come to Quebec to earn another degree. He carried out his end-of-program internship at Boxxo and never left. Today, Ardian is a shareholder, the Executive Director and Research and Development Manager of the company.
No sooner had the phone lines been installed did the ringing begin. A representative from ROSEQ, the Réseau des Organisateurs de Spectacles de l’Est-du-Québec, called to invite Bernard to attend the organization’s next congress, with ticketing as its theme. Caught by surprise and with no promotional material to speak of, Bernard nonetheless accepted the invitation and, several days later, found himself presenting Boxxo to dozens of producers and broadcasters in Eastern Quebec.
A big surprise
During the six-hour drive from Montreal to Rimouski, Bernard practiced his speech to the ROSEQ congress. However, he kept a big surprise from his spouse and co-founder, who had joined him on the trip. Later, standing in the auditorium before the congress having finished the speech he had prepared, he continued telling Boxxo’s creation story, recounting the history of his relationship with his spouse and how she had encouraged him and his crazy dreams. This surprising segue was a story of humanity, innovation and experience – the company’s three greatest strengths. When he had finished, several ROSEQ member organizations insisted on meeting him and learning more about Boxxo.
As soon as the product was officially launched, the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui began using the new tool, which would prove to be both flexible and powerful. In Eastern Quebec, the majority of ROSEQ members decided to put their trust in Boxxo.
A while later, Boxxo had the chance to test out its product at the Place des Arts, working closely with the company CGI. A painstaking process began to present Boxxo’s innovative software; the processes turned out to be a great success. The moment the Place des Arts announced that they would place their trust in Boxxo remains a powerful event and one of great pride in Bernard’s memory. It marked the creation of Boxxo Alliance, a ticketing software program that built upon the concept of Boxxo Classique by adding several new features and making it robust enough to handle large volumes. In 2005, the Fédération informatique du Québec awarded Boxxo the prize of best software program in Quebec for its product Boxxo Alliance. The prize honoured the work accomplished in partnership with CGI and the Place des Arts to build this innovative software program.
The following year, the team expanded and moved into larger offices on the corner of St. Joseph Blvd. and St. Laurent Blvd., where Boxxo’s head office remains today.
A relationship built on trust flourishes over time
Over the years, the majority of Montreal theatres have switched to Boxxo. From the Théâtre Espace Go to the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, and many others, relationships built on trust have been forged. Boxxo is growing with its new partners and clients, who are a constant source of new ideas to be developed by the company’s team of ticketing specialists. Boxxo has also entered into new partnerships with non-theatre organizations, such as the Musée Grévin, the Société des Arts Technologiques and the Orford Express – proof that Boxxo’s versatile ticketing solutions are not limited to theatre venue box offices.
In 2010, new teams began to form at Boxxo, working together take care of their clients. New research and development, customer service, communications and administration departments were created. These teams were received support from programmer analysts, who worked tirelessly at developing Boxxo solutions.
Today, Boxxo’s team includes twelve full-time employees hailing mostly from the ticketing and management arenas, with solid experience in the industry and in-depth understanding of their clients’ realities.
The 11 versions of Boxxo, at a glance
The very first version. Tickets can be sold using a venue map.
Improved version with integrated accounting and membership features.
Full Boxxo Classique version with extra features, namely Microsoft Office.
Network version. Several people able to use the software at the same time.
WebBoxxo debuted for online sales.
Boxxo Alliance was created based on version 5 of Boxxo Classique.
The number of functions tripled to include WatchBoxxo, BoxxoProducteur, a payment server, TacBoxxo, online client accounts and a donations module.
Version 8 – 2013
Eighty new functions were added. This version includes a donation management module, a premier event management module (Boxxo Première), an improved version of TacBoxxo, improved options for sending automatic email alerts, improvements made to Fan Club (presales), a new, more ergonomic version of WebBoxxo and ControlBoxxo to manage public access to venues.
Version 9 – 2014
Boxxo Alliance is enriched with a new customer relationship management (CRM) module, allows the conversion of a global price table into a single price table, manages the sending of alerts and text messages … in addition to a dozen enhanced features. Boxxo Première can send invitations and compile answers, while WebBoxxo is now in mobile version and presents several other novelties and improvements.
Version 10 – 2015
A new user-friendly interface for Boxxo Alliance. Online subscription is now fully automated on WebBoxxo, and it is also possible to manage waiting lists, to offer promotions during the transaction, to offer additional minutes to complete a transaction, to manage duplicates, to deliver complete and customizable charitable receipts … More reports are available … And more!
Version 11 – 2017
This year, the highlights are the online gift certificate (exchangeable online), the virtual membership card and the ++ package. Also we present the new feature that allows users to choose their seats directly in the room plan , without leaving any orphaned seats. This version contains more than 40 new features and improvements.