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International Ticketing Report 2021: Staffing

IQ Magazine's one-off International Ticketing Report provides an indispensable annual health check on the global ticketing business

By IQ on 12 Nov 2021

image © Julie Gentry

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks but subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.

To read the previous instalment of the report, Changing Landscape, click here.

Covid redundancies have hit the sector hard and numerous experienced employees have taken the decision to pursue other career paths rather than return to their former roles. Nonetheless, HR teams have been working overtime to ensure companies are ready to service the needs of their clients.

“While events were paused, we had a huge amount of work to do processing rescheduled shows, helping clients manage the workload, and taking care of fans,” says Mark Yovich, who presides over Ticketmaster, the world’s market-leading live entertainment ticketer.

“At the same time, [Ticketmaster’s] technology teams were able to work at an incredible pace rolling out new features almost weekly, like our Smart Queue technology that effectively manages demand for busy on-sales, which fans are loving.”

He adds, “Thankfully, we were able to take advantage of the many furlough schemes around the world and, as we return to live, our team is building back stronger than ever.”

“While events were paused, we had a huge amount of work to do processing rescheduled shows”

At Europe’s biggest ticketing company, CTS Eventim, chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff tells a similar story. “It is a principle of the company to stand by our employees, even in difficult times. At the same time, we benefitted greatly from government support programmes in various countries. [And] with the restart of business, we started hiring in key areas of the company.”

Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon reveals the rollercoaster ride the company has endured in terms of personnel. “We were around 70 [employees] in 2019, then this number dropped to around 60 during 2020, since we made the choice not to replace people who decided to leave the company,” he tells IQ.

“Then we went back up to almost 90 in 2021 with the acquisition of PlayPass, which is also a player in the event cashless industry. By 2022, we expect to be at least 125, if not more, depending on the activity and recovery in our sector.

Turning to governmental assistance, he says, “Support-wise, we benefited from […] the partial unemployment [scheme] set up by the French state, which covered part of the salaries of the teams who were not working during this period, and we supplemented their wages.”

“H.Kong’s zero Covid policy has meant we have experienced little in the way of lockdowns affecting people’s ability to work”

Furlough programmes differ massively around the world, as highlighted by Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh from his Hong Kong office. “We were able to receive a small contribution from the government towards salary costs, although this was far below what most developed countries offered through furlough and similar schemes.

“Hong Kong’s zero Covid policy has meant we have experienced little in the way of lockdowns affecting people’s ability to work, although there has been little activity in the events sector generally due to the various restrictions resulting from the zero Covid approach.”

That allowed Total Ticketing to retain its entire team from 2019 to present. “In fact, we have made some new hires over this period to support our ongoing investment in developing our suite of software and products,” says Haigh.

“This has left us in a strong position as we have retained the skills and knowledge that we have developed in our teams over the years.”

“Since lockdown lifting in 2021 and consumer confidence being at an all-time high, we are back to a period of growth”

In the UK, Skiddle’s Scahill notes the impact that lockdowns had on the business, including the closure of its Manchester office. But with the UK reopening for events, things are suddenly looking much rosier.

“The majority of our staff were on either part-time or full-time furlough during the pandemic while business was down and Skiddle claimed £430,000 [€509,000] via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, since lockdown lifting in 2021 and consumer confidence being at an all-time high, we are back to a period of growth as our team is now 65 staff members and we are now hiring at pre-Covid rates and recruiting for a number of roles.”

Indeed, that scramble to restaff is universal across the territories that are fortunate enough to be back. “We are a relatively small team in the AXS London office, the majority of which we managed to retain throughout the pandemic – albeit up to approximately 50% were furloughed at various times,” says director of ticketing Paul Newman. “Today we are back to a full complement of staff, as well as actively recruiting for a number of new roles within the business.”

Russ Tannen, president of Dice states, “By the end of the year our team will be 350 globally – and growing fast. We have headquarters in London and New York and offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, and Samara.”


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