Universal Studios Japan

Connect Entertainment’s founder Jaci Testro approached Thirst Creative to update her business’s audition platform, and look at ways to improve some of the systems and processes for her yearly Universal Studios Japan auditions.

USJ Integration

Every year Connect Entertainment receive over 6,000 applications for roles at Universal Studios Japan, which were previously managed using a 2007 Microsoft Access Database. With national and international team members located in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, London and Osaka, Jaci was looking to implement a cloud-based system that would allow her team to collaborate and screen candidates in real time, ultimately to improve the experience for performers, agents and Universal Studios.

The Thirst Creative Solution

Thirst Creative researched, mapped and built a fully integrated audition platform that combines a number of off-the-shelf cloud tools and configured automations. Jaci’s system was truly bespoke, with seasonal peaks through the year where her team would grow to up to 20 staff. Many database automation systems offer high licence fees on a year round subscription model per user, proving cost prohibitive for Connects needs.

Thirst built a system off the open source platform Podio, which is completely unique to her needs and offers a low cost annual subscription that she can scale up and down as demand requires throughout the year, allowing different levels of access for the different team members across the tour.

The fully integrated audition platform consists of three key components:

  • A website housing all of the roles and the registration form for interested candidates, built on WordPress;
  • Cloud based project management tool Podio, which has been customised to meet the complexities of the job; and
  • Automated email integration for all communications with performers and agents.


With the overall goal of the project to allow collaboration between global team members and decrease administration time and burden. The combination of cloud based tools really helped the team to communicate from anywhere across the globe and see real-time data about registrations, screened performers, email open rates and more.

To achieve this, a number of complex automations were built into the system that dramatically reduce administration and email traffic. A significant amount of data is merged throughout the process – from initial expressions of interest, through to audition days, team screening of candidates and notification of successful applicants.

USJ Mobile

Fast Facts

  • Improved website user experience (UX) for performers.
  • Created a responsive, mobile friendly site to suit target audience needs.
  • Fast tracked the performer screening process from 5 days to as little as 5 minutes!
  • Improved communication to Agents and Performers.
  • Saved over 35 hours per week in manual email distribution.
  • Improved reporting capability with instant live data about email stats, applicant and audition numbers for each city.
  • Reduction of email templates from 70 to 10.
  • Reduced Connect’s manual data entry by capturing candidate information online.
  • Created greater global team collaboration with Cloud-based platform.
  • Greater tracking and in-depth data about emails, including open rates and clicks.


  • Research
  • Creative
  • Strategy


  • Design
  • Website development
  • Email templates
  • Audition management


  • Analytics and insights
  • Reporting

Want to find out more about what Podio could do for your business? Book a free demonstration now!


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