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International Ticketing Report 2021: Pandemic Lessons

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

By Gordon Masson on 14 Dec 2021

Digital tickets have been criticised for excluding older people

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 on secondary ticketing, click here.

Dealing with the various Covid restrictions, lobbying for government support, and having to make difficult decisions over staff cuts have been unprecedented tasks for ticketing company senior management over the past 18 months. But what have been the biggest lessons that they have learned throughout the crisis?

Eventim’s chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff is optimistic following the long pause in business. “People’s longing for live entertainment remains unbroken even after 18 months of pandemic, and the fans’ loyalty to their favourite artists,” he says.

“What was and is also great is the cohesion of our employees during the pandemic and how everyone worked together to ensure that CTS Eventim emerges even stronger from the crisis.”

But he is all too aware that the industry needs to do more to elevate its status in the minds of politicians. “Culture and the people’s need for culture and live entertainment apparently do not always enjoy the status in politics that would be desirable,” he says.

“Our industry was the first to go and the last to return, and it was tough,” says Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich. “As a global business with global teams, we had colleagues experiencing every possible pandemic scenario at different times – so learnings, advice, and sympathetic ears were invaluable. They say your colleagues are like your family, and I never felt that more than over the last 18 months.

“Promoters and venues have had the opportunity to look into their ticketing needs in far greater detail than ever before”

“Throughout it all, to see our teams come together at this time to innovate, build, and execute incredible features as well as deliver incredibly complex customer service support in such short timeframes was truly inspiring.

“It was our job to deliver the tools our clients so desperately required in this crisis – and we did just that. So much so that we’ve had an abundance of new clients come knocking who saw this work and are now turning to us in need of a reliant, industry-leading ticketing service as they navigate the return to live.”

Total Ticketing‘s Martin Haigh sees opportunity for boutique ticketing firms to gain a stronger foothold as the recovery plays out.

“We feel that promoters and venues have had the opportunity to look into their ticketing needs in far greater detail than ever before and as such are way more self-educated and open to exploring new opportunities. So, this is a good time to erode into the incumbents’ market share,” he says.

At Dice, Russ Tannen also sees opportunity. “We discovered a huge underserved live music audience living outside of major cities,” he states. But he laments that, “There isn’t enough transparency for artists in live.”

TixTrack CEO Steven Sunshine observes, “We have seen the past 18 months as a strong positive as it has made ticket sellers more interested in mobile and cloud-based solutions as well as digital ticket delivery, timed-entry ticketing, and many other features and functions that have been a part of our ticketing offering even pre-Covid.”

“We discovered a huge underserved live music audience living outside of major cities”

On a positive note, Skiddle’s head of marketing, Jamie Scahill, believes consumer confidence will not take long to rebuild. “We’ve seen a yearning by all demographics of the public to get back out and experience events and we’re confident that this demand will be set to continue as more and more people become comfortable with going out again,” he says.

“The pandemic has highlighted how good the live entertainment ticketing industry is,” states The Ticket Factory‘s Richard Howle. “Our primary concern was to do the right thing by our clients and customers and that passion to deliver great service has shone through.

“As an industry we normally only make the headlines when things go wrong and the fact that we have gone through the last 18 months with very little in the way of bad headlines, particularly when compared to other industries, such as travel, is testament to what a good job we have done.”

And looking at things from a personal point of view, AXS director of ticketing Paul Newman says, “The last 18 months have made me realise the importance of both physical and mental wellbeing, and I fully intend to carry forward the good habits I have developed in both my professional and personal life.

“Business-wise, I think that maybe the ticketing industry realises there is a stronger need to work together on finding solutions to the issues we all face.”


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