ClearBookings supports Santa Claus at Elf Town Galway

Elf Town is a 2-hour immersive, theatrical Santa experience located at Galway Racecourse each year. Over 40,000 children and adults came through its doors in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. Up to twelve ‘Santa’s Grottos’ were open at any given time to meet demand and ensure every family got their private visit with the man in red.

This is a mammoth operation.

A vital aspect of the Elf Town experience is that Santa knows a special secret about each child – their best friend’s name, what they want for Christmas, or what their favourite hobbies are – which he reveals during their visit, making it a real ‘wow’ moment for the children.

Capturing this detailed and personalised information is critically important. The ‘off-the-shelf’ ticketing system Elf Town was using didn’t support this very well, resulting in hours of labour-intensive sorting, checking and relaying
messages for staff.

As Elf Town Director Barry Battle remembers,

“We had to have four elves on a desk, going through all the bookings, looking through all the sheets to find the ‘secrets’ and then having a runner elf going from the ground floor to the 4th floor, getting it up to the right grotto. It just didn’t work for us.”

Another major headache was dealing with and keeping track of the minor changes to many thousands of bookings.

“Customers would email us to ask if they could change their booking – wanting to add a child, take off a child, or bring Granny along, or they might want to change the time, and it was such a huge amount of manual labour.
Mistakes were sometimes made, and we’d always hear about it!”

Battle was frustrated with the rigidity of the ticketing system they were using, saying,

“We were using another company, and their attitude was ‘this is what we have, this is what we can do – take it or leave it’. We had that in place for the first two years, and it just didn’t work for us. There was no flexibility at all.”

He heard about ClearBookings from a colleague and decided to get in touch. Having discussed Elf Town’s specific requirements, the ClearBookings team customised their system to optimise workflows and reporting to meet Elf Town’s exact needs.

Parents can now input all the relevant information about each child when making their booking. They can also make as many changes as needed in the visit run-up, saving the Elf Town team a tremendous amount of work. This includes the purchase of additional tickets and add-ons, as well as the all-important children's message to Santa.

Rather than grappling with paper bookings, upon arrival each family is now given a lanyard with a ClearBookings generated QR code. When they arrive at the grotto, the QR code is scanned, giving Santa and his helpers all the specific information they need for that particular family.

Battle is very pleased with the smoothness of the new operation, saying,

Event check-in tickets

“The guys in ClearBookings were able to change the booking system so the customers could make all the changes themselves. It saved us months of work because it had been so labour intensive. Now, there are no mistakes, and it’s very straightforward. We’re not running up and down flights of stairs with lists of family names, syphoning through all the information. It’s literally bang, bang, and away you go. It’s a very good system that works well for us.”

As well as improving their booking and information systems, ClearBookings has delivered other benefits to Elf Town. The suite of reporting options available with ClearBookings is robust and not only feeds into operational workflows, but also provides Elf Town with valuable data and customer insights, informing its marketing strategy and highlighting new business potential.

Battle has found these reporting options to be especially helpful, saying:


“There are dozens of reports we run all the time – on the financial side of things, the data on the number of babies versus the number of children versus the number of adults. It’s just everything we need, and it’s all very self-explanatory and very clear.”

Live events demand quick and efficient customer service, something that the ClearBookings team are passionate about delivering to their clients. Queries are followed up promptly and requested customisations can be implemented within 24 hours.

“For me, when it comes to business, I love to pick up the phone or send a WhatsApp or email and get an answer. That’s what you get from the guys in ClearBookings every time. They are always very approachable, and whatever I require gets sorted the following day.”

The new system has been so effective that Battle plans significant expansion, adding to their Galway Racecourse event with a second site at the RDS in Dublin from 2023.


“I would 100% recommend ClearBookings. It’s a no-brainer, and there has never been a second where I thought what we are paying versus what we’re getting is not worth it. It’s absolutely great and it works a treat for us. It's fantastic to see an Irish tech company at the top of its game.”

To find out how ClearBookings can streamline your 2022 Santa experience, get in contact with us today for a free consultation.