“No longer under the same pressure”: CN Playguide delivers on its busiest days
As a ticketing solution provider, CN Playguide (operated by Community Network) works in the background for major ticket onsales across Japan. But after nearly three decades in the business, surging online demand began to cause technical issues that were putting client relationships and the user experience at risk. Discover how CN Playguide tackled these issues to ensure reliable and seamless onsales, no matter the demand.
CN Playguide has been bringing fans and organizers together for nearly three decades. The company is a pioneer in Japanese ticketing, being one of the first agencies to sell tickets online and at convenience stores.
CN Playguide might’ve begun as a ticket distributor, but they’ve transitioned over the years into a solution provider role. Today, they provide ticketing systems and onsale support for clients like professional sports teams, broadcasters, and other promoters in addition to managing their own ticketing platform (CN Playguide).
“We’ve come to take more of a background role in recent years,” says Hiroaki Hasegawa, CN Playguide’s director of System Development Department.
But background work doesn’t mean easier work. It requires constant problem-solving and support to deliver custom solutions and ensure smooth ticket onsales that fuel the excitement of fans.
And this background work becomes even more crucial—and more challenging—during high-demand onsales, where traffic can overwhelm systems, causing slowdowns, crashes, and other technical issues.
We sat down with Hasegawa to hear how his team overcame these challenges using Queue-it and how CN Playguide works as the “background” hero for some of Japan’s biggest onsales.
CN Playguide prides itself on delivering reliable and smooth onsales, both for their clients and on their CN Playguide platform. But as ticket onsales moved increasingly online, they began to face issues on their busiest days.
”Even on a website that only get a few thousand users on a normal business day, tens of thousands or even 100,000+ users rush in during major onsales,” Hasegawa says. “Distributing and managing that load has always been an issue for us.”
At first, CN Playguide hoped migrating to cloud-based servers would solve the problem. But even with greater server capacity, the issues caused by the high-demand periods weren’t completely solved.
”When you move to the cloud, you can scale the infrastructure freely. But even if you scale up the frontend, the backend can’t keep up,” Hasegawa says.
“Bottlenecks were unavoidable … The assets on the cloud could be scaled easily, but the overall capacity is restricted by the unscalable parts such as the third-party payment or issuing system.”
Hiroaki Hasegawa, Director of System Development Department, CN Playguide
Although CN Playguide never faced an all-out website crash, these traffic peaks “overwhelmed internal systems, resulting in slow page load times or errors.”
“These errors were frustrating to fans, who would refresh the pages and desperately click buttons, worried they wouldn’t get their tickets,” Hasegawa says. “It was also stressful for the team, who had to work hard and fast to resolve the issues.”
Hasegawa and his team knew something needed to change. “We were afraid the situation would cause trust issues in the long run—both between the clients and the fans, as well as the clients and us. We were trying to get our heads around how to solve this issue.”
”It was amid this struggle that I discovered virtual waiting rooms,” Hasegawa recounts. He was among the many who queued online to buy tickets to the Tokyo Olympics.
“There were tens of thousands of people waiting ahead of me, but I was amazed at how smoothly it all went,” he says. “Thanks to the email notification feature, I didn’t have to sit still in front of the screen the whole time. I got notified when my turn was coming up next.”
Hasegawa immediately saw the potential for this solution to solve CN Playguide’s struggles during major onsales.
“It was the perfect solution for our needs, because it controls the traffic inflow while ensuring a stress-free wait time for the end-users,” says Hasegawa.
He began researching virtual waiting rooms and chose to work with Queue-it, saying “I could comfortably trust Queue-it for its expertise and support in Japanese. So I started to propose the solution to our clients, including professional baseball teams and broadcasters."
“The biggest benefit of implementing Queue-it was the significant decrease in system errors,” Hasegawa tells us.
“Knowing that the sales will run smoothly, we are no longer under the same pressure we were before.”
He adds, ”before, one event could cause numerous errors. It was so stressful because we had to solve the situation as soon as possible. But with Queue-it in place, the effect was drastic. With the waiting room configured right, we could easily ensure smoother ticket onsales.”
Fans were quick to celebrate the newly introduced waiting room. “Theatre show fans tweeted about how much the ticket sales process improved compared to the last time,” Hasegawa says. “We also saw many comments about how the queue enabled a reassuring, informed, and comfortable experience.”
Real tweets from happy customers (CN Playguide's client information is anonymized)
In addition to serving the fans with improved performance and reliability, CN Playguide's clients found value in the traffic monitoring report.
“The report gives them metrics to better understand the sales performance at a glance. Tools like Google Analytics can do the same, but Queue-it’s traffic report is a lot easier to use.”
In addition to using Queue-it for their clients, CN Playguide uses 24/7 peak protection on their own ticketing platform in case of unexpected peaks.
With Queue-it in place, Hasegawa and his team can now support high-demand onsales with confidence.
What’s next for CN Playguide, Japan’s behind-the-scenes ticketing hero? Hasegawa tells us the company still has many more organizations and sports teams they’d like to support.
“Our mission is to continue improving ourselves so that organizations can choose CN Playguide with confidence. By adding tools such as the virtual waiting room, we aim to increase the variety of our offering and enhance our ticket solutions, so we can provide services that match clients’ needs.”