Skip to content

An interview with the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Development through true collaboration and partnership



The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre is over 125 years old and one of London’s biggest theatres outside the West End. It is steeped in history – with the theatre space itself designed by famous English architect, Frank Matcham, but enclosed in a modern building rebuilt 70 years ago and a few metres along from the original, thanks to community fundraising and support.

The building itself is so much more thanjust a theatre – it is a community space. Paul Gallagher, Commercial Director,shared with us how important it is to them that every visitor has a positive experience and seamless purchasing journey. Thanks to Visit, we are helping him to make this a day-to-day reality through collaboration, continual software development and a commitment to building a good personal relationship.

The beginning – working with Visit to meet The Lyric’s requirements

In light of the pandemic, it has been impossible for The Lyric to accommodate full capacity audiences and for a significant amount of time, the theatre itself was obviously closed completely.New to the role himself, Paul was determined to use the time wisely and looked at ways that operations, specifically the bar and catering, could be improved once reopening was possible.

A specific system that Paul and his barmanager, Mario Maric, were keen to improve was the pre-ordering system. WhenPaul joined The Lyric in January 2020, they were using a very basic, “clunky”system, adapted from the ticketing system, to allow a very limited range ofdrinks to be pre-ordered by customers (which essentially gave customers a‘ticket’ which they could exchange for their drinks). It was also causingissues with stock control.

When the theatre was forced to close in March 2020, Paul took the opportunity to investigate an alternative. He looked for something that would integrate well with their ticketing system, Spektrix,and the ePOS systems The Lyric were using.

Through his research, Paul came across Visit and after a discussion with Co-Founder Phillip Markwick, he became really interested in how Visit could help improve the pre-ordering processes and more.

Specifically, Paul was impressed by not only Phillip’s knowledge, thanks to his background with running independent Cinema, and his investment in the sector, but also that Phillip was willing to build a relationship – using Paul’s input and hospitality experience to continue to develop Visit for the benefit of all of Visit’s clients.

The benefits – Helping to develop Visit for the good of all venues

With the hope of the theatre re-opening in June 2021, Paul worked closely with the Visit team to develop something that would be a great fit for his customers. During the setting up stage, Paul was impressed with the developments he saw in a short time. He witnessed how his suggestions were taken on board and implemented wherever possible, thanks to productive meetings, where the whole team could be involved.

Importantly, “Visit has become the bridgebetween all elements of the customer journey” as Paul defines it. From acustomer experience perspective, Visit has made the booking of a ticket, a table, a drink and other interactions with the theatre feel like just one single system.

Pre-orders were one of the key areas Paul wanted to improve and Visit “plugged a huge gap”. Visit integrates with the theatre’s ePOS system and allowing Paul to offer customers a whole menu of items for pre-order, not just a very basic selection, as he could previously. Furthermore, whichever menu the customer is offered, for a certain time slot or show, this exactly matches what the bar and catering staff team see on the till. All transactions are also taken care of, and orders are instantly viewable and easily prepared ready for timely collection.

In the early stages of use, the team could also use Visit to help segregate audience members to specific bars, a Covid necessity, but they are now looking to use these features to offer specialised menus and offers for certain customer segments

Learn more about tailoring Visit here

Even before audiences returned, Paul and the Visit team were considering ways that Visit could be developed to suit a wide range of scenarios that would not only meet Paul’s own requirements but that of other venues too.

Paul explained how he sees working with Visit as a true collaboration. He has a significant amount of software development experience and understanding himself, as does Mario his bar manager, and he found he was impressed that no idea was ever ‘bricked walled’:

Visit are always willing to investigate and I have seen lots of different updates already that I feel have come from my feedback – I’ve seen so many changes after our conversations – essentially Visit is moulded to our needs.

This is so vital to the enhancement of Visit for all of our customers – it’s not about us telling you what you need. It’s about us helping you to do more with our software and our software developing in light of what you want.

As Paul defined it:

“It’s about how Visit changes for us, not about how we have to change to fit Visit – Visit treats venues as individuals.”

The challenge – Waiting for full capacity

Paul admits that whilst Visit makes it “easy to get stuff done” – and has seen many of the advantages it has already offered his staff and customers since reopening on the 18th June –it is not until they are at full capacity that they will truly see the effect of Visit.

With a refurbishment and rebrand of the bars and catering facilities, Paul is looking to launch a brand new version of The Lyric in October. When once again welcoming up to 600 audience members, he is looking forward to making more of the pre-order capability, offering significantly more choice and different offers, as well as utilising features such as customer reporting and getting a better sense of the impact of KPIs.

However, Paul has already seen positive results. He already feels confident that with Visit the customer journey is a lot better, there is more of a spread of what customers are buying and fewer mistakes are being seen with pre-orders.

The future – Growing Visit for the benefit of all our partners

With Paul’s technological understandingand the flexibility of the Visit team, they are certainly looking for ways for Visit to develop even further.

As a community building, which offers events, arts education and classes, The Lyric also has open spaces, welcoming members of the public to work, hire and use the catering facilities themselves.

Importantly, Paul’s conversations with Visit remain so open because they recognise that if Paul needs functionality for his own theatre, then it is likely that it is something other theatres, as well as cinemas and other venues, will also need. Paul recognises the software’s scalability and adaptability depending on the needs and requirements of the venue and their team.

In summary, Paul encourages you to “get on board now and get involved with how Visit grows!”

We’d love to hear more about what your venue requires, which systems could be better integrated and how we can make your customer journey more seamless.

Book a demo today