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‘It really saved us’: How Zeller Solved Adelaide Festival’s Payment Problems



‘It really saved us’: How Zeller Solved Adelaide Festival’s Payment Problems

A varied cultural programme with multiple venues poses a unique set of challenges for event organisers, but it shouldn’t for payment providers.

For more than 60 years, Adelaide Festival has been delighting audiences with a mix of theatre, music, dance, writing, and visual art from local, national, and international scenes. The two-week long event – which encompasses both Adelaide Festival and Adelaide Writers’ Week – has become an unmissable event on Australia’s cultural calendar and this year’s record numbers are testament to its ongoing allure. 

Bank services in terminal decline.

Just one month out from the launch of the 2024 season, however, administration and payroll officer, Prue Miels, found herself in somewhat of a dilemma. As online ticket sales flew out the door, venues geared up for the influx of visitors synonymous with ‘Mad March’, and international artists and authors prepared to make their long voyage over to South Australia, the festival’s finance team were scrambling to find a way to accept in-person payments. “Our bank just told us, we're not doing this anymore, we're moving to another provider. They'll look after your short-term rentals,” explained Prue. “But when I contacted the new provider, they informed me that they only offered 12-month rentals,” she continued, “Yeah, great.”

Zeller takes centre stage.

For a not-for-profit organisation whose event runs for two weeks of the year and requires at least seven EFTPOS machines, paying monthly rental fees for these to sit in the cupboard for 11 months was out of the question. And so it was that they found Zeller, “I thought it was too good to be true,” says Prue, who was able to get a Zeller Account set up online instantly and terminals delivered within a few days. “It really saved us,” she adds. In an industry where decisions are made fast, and often at the last minute in the lead up to launch date, having a merchant facility that can be flexible and agile is essential, but increasingly difficult to find.

Goodbye receipts and spreadsheets.

As a government-run entity, Adelaide Festival is audited by the Auditor-General, meaning that every transaction needs to be accurately accounted for and able to be explained. Up to as late as last year, the process for this required Adelaide Festival staff to print and store every single EFTPOS receipt, after which it was Prue’s laborious task to reconcile each one. “I used to have about 20 brown paper shopping bags full of receipts, which I would have to go through and sort into date order,” explains Prue. “It wouldn't always line up… for example, if someone borrowed an EFTPOS machine from the book tent and used it at the box office without taking note of the machine’s merchant number, we’d have no way of knowing what transactions came from where. It was so much work,” she explains.

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Raising the curtain on efficiency.

With Zeller Dashboard, every transaction can be stored and tracked in one convenient, easy-to-access online portal. The transaction amount, type, status, date and time, and site (where the transaction was processed) are all viewable and filterable. Plus, each transaction can have a receipt, transaction note, tag or category assigned to it to assist finance teams with reporting. “It's all so much easier now, because I can log in to Zeller Dashboard and look up the transaction,” says Prue. “We’re no longer guessing, so there’s much less chance of human error,” she says. No longer having to print every EFTPOS receipt has also helped align the payment process to the festival’s sustainability goals, “This year is the first year we’ve actually saved paper,” says Prue. “To say I am excited about Zeller is an understatement. It’s been so great.”


More than a support act.

When events are planned year-round, but their window for generating revenue is limited to the few days or weeks that the event runs, organisers simply cannot run the risk of losing sales to unexpected issues. It’s in this regard that Zeller’s local support gave Prue and the team peace of mind. “Someone came in and sat down and helped us set things up. That was just phenomenal,” Prue says. Having spent the last five months trying to change the authorisations on their bank-issued credit card, Prue is accustomed to the state of play with traditional banking services. “It’s just been so nice that Zeller is Australian and that there’s a person you can talk to. It was amazing customer service.”

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Powering Australia’s event payments.

Adelaide Festival stands as Australia’s premier international festival, each year delivering a city-wide programme that spans two weeks and more than 25 venues. While operationally speaking, events of this scope and size pose their own set of challenges, Australian financial institutions have an important role to play in supporting them. Today, new payment technology can offer event organisers more flexibility than ever before, with an increasingly granular overview of sales data, which can be used to inform strategic decisions for the future. Zeller understands the needs of events-based businesses and is proud to be working hand in hand with them to support their growth.

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