We solved a ticketing challenge for Tampa Bay’s top sand sculpture festival.

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival is a ten day celebration of Tampa Bay’s greatest natural asset—our sugar sand beaches. This artistic event features local artisans, crafters and buskers, live music, sand sculpting classes, a giant sandbox for the kids and the Sugar Sand Walk — 21,000 square-feet of sand-sculpted art crafted by world-class sculptors.

Attracting more visitors, and making it easier for them to attend.

The festival was growing fast, and the organizers planned to do even more. They approached us about consulting, strategy and a new website. Their primary operational issue was related to ticketing: With over 100,000 attendees, walk-up traffic was leading to long lines and congestion. Sugar Sand needed an online ticketing system integrated seamlessly with their entrance processes. 

We kicked off our shoes and dug our toes into the challenge!

Design so bright you gotta wear shades.

We dove headfirst into designing a sunny, breezy look and feel for the festival’s website. We designed a responsive site to ensure every detail translated seamlessly from desktop to tablet to smartphone, making the festival easy to attend for guests on the move. Visitors could quickly click to find a schedule of activities, browse through FAQs, or get directions.

Consulting to set the festival apart from competitors.

Sugar Sand Festival wanted to compete with major arts festivals and differentiate itself from other regional sandcastle festivals.

We consulted with the festival to develop sponsorship levels, incentives — and an exclusive destination with private restroom facilities, complimentary food and beverage items and a live DJ, for VIP ticket holders.

Now, buying tickets is like a day at the beach.

Clearwater Beach is one of Florida’s most popular beaches. Millions of tourists and locals come to enjoy the soft, white sugar sand and tranquil water every year. This meant a lot of day-of ticket purchases for the festival. In the past, those visitors had to wait in line to purchase tickets.

We designed a better solution than waiting in line: a custom, mobile ticketing platform, allowing beachgoers to purchase tickets on their phones and walk right into the festival. No more lines!


Providing technical support right on the sand.

The new website supported the ticket scanning functionality. We knew this double-duty feature of the website would mean a huge load on the server during the festival’s duration, especially at peak times.

We load tested the server before launch to ensure everything would go smoothly, and provided on-site support during the festival. (We set our support team up in hotel rooms on Clearwater Beach. Not their worst gig.)

Sugar Sand Festival gets sweet results.

The festival added an extra day to its run this year, so to accurately measure the success of our efforts we decided to track the YOY metrics of only the first day. The numbers painted a picture as pretty as a Gulf Coast sunset.

First day traffic nearly doubled from the previous year, with almost 25% of that being new traffic! Visitors stayed on the site longer and looked at more pages, and ultimately, purchased tickets.

What will we build together next?

Who wouldn’t want to join forces with a festival promoting family fun in the sun, beautiful sculpture art, local artisans and a few friendly cornhole competitions? We continue to support and update Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival’s digital presence and look forward to next year’s event.