Thousands of Kiwis flew 20,000km to see Richie McCaw lift the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham in October. Their tickets, from Dunedin.

A year before, nearly 3.5 million people from 202 countries watched 64 matches played across Brazil in the Fifa World Cup played across Brazil. And then there are the past Olympic Games ...

Fact is, if you've been to a concert, show, expo or sports match in the past 20 years, you've probably clicked the Checkout button that takes you to venues or promoters relying on the Fortress Group, a New Zealand-owned and operated specialty software house.

According to founder and CEO Matthew Davey, the story began in early 1999. "We perceived a need in the ticketing industry for a software system that would enable a venue to control its own ticketing and customer relationship management.

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"Traditionally, the big companies have taken ticketing away from a venue, resulting in a loss of operational control, reduced flexibility and the elimination of a valuable revenue source.

"The subsequent monopoly exploited venues, promoters and customers alike, leaving everyone out of pocket and with little choice in service -- until now."

The Fortress team believed there had to be a better way. "We've gone to great lengths to design a system that is reshaping the ticketing industry. Our software and business model provide an avenue for venues to retain control over the important aspects of their operations, build knowledge about their customers and keep ticketing revenue in the local economy.

"We have used the latest programming tools and internet technologies to deliver a software system that is robust, fun to work with and simply light years ahead of the competition."

Many Kiwis will have dealt with TicketDirect, the company's premier division. It's an alliance of more than 100 independent New Zealand venues that have come together to give customers and promoters a flexible, friendly and affordable ticketing service. Cutting-edge technology allows the venues to control their own ticketing operations through the New Zealand-based 0800 call centre and internet sales website.

Now the largest ticketing company in New Zealand, TicketDirect also operates in Australia, Asia, Canada and Fiji with further plans for international expansion. It sells more than five million tickets a year.

Recently, Fortress bought both Dash Tickets and 1-night.co.nz. A pair of Wellington start-ups, these companies have cut through the festival, concert and youth markets giving a strong rounding to TicketDirect's core sports offering.

Dash expanded internationally with the launch of Dash Australia and now runs some of the largest events in Australasia with the Royal Melbourne Show selling more than 500,000 tickets across 10 days.