Vivendi has merged the formerly SFX-owned ticket agency into See Tickets in order to better "leverage its global assets", it has announced
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See Tickets chief Rob Wilmshurst talks competition, secondary, festivals, Europe and how See is punching above its weight
By IQ on 17 Jun 2019
After blazing a trail with Fan-to-Fan, the first integrated face-value ticket resale service in the UK, in 2016, and one again recording its best-ever sales in 2018, See Tickets’ upward trajectory shows no signs of slowing. IQ catches up with the company’s global CEO, Rob Wilmshurst, to learn more about its unique offering, and where it goes from here…
We last caught up in 2017, shortly after the launch of Fan-to-Fan, one of the first face-value ticket resale platforms. How has the take-up of the service been in that time, and what have you learned?
I think we were the first platform-integrated, and hence secure, service launched in the UK. Take-up has been as one would expect from customers wishing to sell unwanted tickets at the right price vs the bad actors who can still flog things on Viagogo and StubHub – so not huge.
But, as anyone can see, there is a lot of product up on the service. We launched it as a PR exercise, really, and there is little money in it. We are the cheapest among all the UK operators.
We made our money once – we don’t need to make it again.
How has the secondary ticketing landscape evolved since then, and what technological solutions are putting in place to control the flow of tickets?
Ticketmaster chucking Seatwave and Get Me In! was probably welcome across the board. Viagogo still couldn’t care less, despite some ropey PR they just put out about regretting not defending themselves in parliament – lame. Eventim launching their product is good. All of this is probably not that great for Twickets, who at least came out before all of us as the good guys.
Technology moves along and we have some clever stuff about to be launched right now around face registration, recognition and access control. Watch this space.
Moving on from secondary, you’ve been expanding across Europe, most notably with the acquisition of Paylogic. What’s your European strategy, and how does the continent compare to the UK market?
Good question. Each country is operationally, structurally and economically different: France is tough and the systems are interconnected; Spain is about the cash; Portugal is a decent marketplace with pragmatic operators; Germany… stay at home. Of course, this is sweeping generalisation from a country that sadly attempts today to stupidly stand apart from our continental friends…
We remain globally opportunistic and look at a whole bunch of factors we before we deploy or acquire. Further afield, the US is doing great business and has found a rich seam in mid-market venues.
“We made our money once – we don’t need to make it again”
What are the biggest challenges facing both See, and the overall ticketing market, at present?
We are not going to be challenging Live Nation and Ticketmaster any time soon as a global enterprise, but I believe we are punching above our weight, with excellent shareholders, a solid cash base and a great team to help navigate international waters. The challenges are not new – competition and margin erosion are the principal headwinds. That said, we are growing as we open new regions.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities?
The US and Europe remain our focus but the global scope of [parent company] Vivendi has uncovered some opportunities further afield that we are currently looking at.
More generally, how is 2019 shaping up so far? There’s been talk of a slow festival season, especially in the UK – is that affecting your bottom line?
We do more than just music, but yes, it’s slower. However, we have the positive impact of Glastonbury filling a gap from 2018, which will make us whole vs last year within that segment.
The wider Vivendi ticketing business reported record revenues and ticket sales in 2018. Is that something you expect to replicate this year?
Yes – that’s the plan. But ask me how we did next year…