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International Ticketing Report 2022: Ticket Tech

Ticketing is a hotbed of technological innovation. We hear from some of the firms seeking to make ticketing better

By James Drury on 05 Dec 2022


Ticketing is a hotbed of technological innovation, and there’s no shortage of companies offering new solutions to gaps in the market. We hear from some of the firms seeking to make ticketing better.

Secutix
“Real digital ticketing means being able to know your customer, whoever owns the barcode, and giving them the assurance that the ticket is real, it’s guaranteed, and it’s going to get them into the event,” says Secutix managing director David Hornby.

The Software as a Service company (SaaS) offers a wide range of cloud-based digital ticketing solutions. Its core platform, S-360, means promoters and venues can sell tickets through their own website, without needing to send their customers to a third party.

“Real digital ticketing means being able to know your customer, whoever owns the barcode”

The data can be used to build a picture of everyone in the venue, as well as using that information to engage them in a broad range of other ways.

Hornby says: “The difference between us and a traditional distribution ticket company is traditional firms still sell to the person who buys ten tickets for their group of friends. That person just distributes the tickets, and the event organiser doesn’t know who the other nine people are. Whereas with our solution, everyone has to register, meaning you can communicate with them all, as well as knowing exactly who’s in the venue.”

“The difference between us and a traditional distribution ticket company is traditional firms still sell to the person who buys ten tickets for their group of friends.”

S-360’s access control works with multiple ticketing providers, so audiences can buy from a variety of outlets.

Another capability in Secutix’s suite is its mobile blockchain ticketing technology, Tixngo, which not only provides security of ticketing but means event organisers can control resale or eliminate it altogether. Ed Sheeran’s July 2022 concerts at Stade de Paris in France saw 176,000 people attend, with digital tickets handled through Secutix’s platform.

At the request of the Shape of You singer, ticket resale was banned. Using the encryption and security of blockchain to create a unique, encrypted, and fully traceable ticket for every smartphone, Tixngo removes the risk of counterfeit tickets. The mobile ticket also generates a dynamic QR code that changes frequently so it cannot be screenshot or sold to another party.

“One of the things we’ve done is it’s always been built on API’s, but we’re now creating slightly different tools called widgets, packets of code that people can post on their own ecosystem. So let’s say, for example, you wanted a one-click purchase widget or you wanted an availability view, you could just post that on your own website or partners’ websites. We’re segmenting the product into bite-sized chunks and allowing those chunks to be used by our customers rather than having to have the whole thing.”

Flicket
Gaining a deep understanding of who’s buying your tickets is at the heart of Flicket’s mission. The New Zealand-based company was founded to fill a gap in the market where traditional ticketing firms were keeping control of the consumer experience and the data that went with it. Flicket wants to give that process to the promoters and venues – bypassing traditional ticketing companies and helping event organisers save money and improve their cashflow in the process.

“The events industry seemed to have a strange relationship with its consumers,” says co-founder and chief technology officer Jimmy Barwell-Smith. “There was such a limited amount of information that came back to the promoter or venue about who was buying tickets let alone the actual attendees.

So we took a practical approach to let people go direct to consumer and rearranged how we capture data.” He says by making changes to the ticket-buying process, the company has been able to drive up marketing opt-ins by as much as 50%.

“The events industry seemed to have a strange relationship with its consumers”

Layering this rich data set over social integrations and other third-party analytics, Flicket has a built-in marketing automation solution with the aim of helping event organisers reduce their marketing spend by having this deep understanding of each consumer.

Audiences are also motivated to buy tickets and tell their friends through a membership scheme and referral programme offers.

By making changes to the ticket-buying process, the company has been able to drive up marketing opt-ins by as much as 50%

“Much of the time, when you’re carrying out a marketing campaign, you only really get an understanding of who’s converted,’ says Barwell-Smith. “But that’s not really who you want to try and sell to right now – it’s actually the people that didn’t convert. You need to understand why your campaign didn’t resonate with them. Is it because you’ve got the wrong product? The wrong demographic?

We’ve done work with a couple of festivals here – their initial marketing was quite broad; they had a certain demographic in mind but what we saw was the people converting weren’t in that target. So we enabled them to adapt their marketing strategies with this focussed, useful data, saving them money and even helping them design the line-up.”

TicketPlan
The leading ticket insurance provider has had an “interesting” couple of years, notes TicketPlan relationship and development director Ben Bray, wryly. The company provides refunds to ticketholders if they’re unable to attend an event due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances – and Covid has obviously been the big factor here recently.

“But since reopening there’s been a boom in ticket insurance sales because there’s been a shift in the general public’s attitude to risk,” says Bray. “They want to book something to look forward to after having been locked up for so long. But equally, they’re more aware than ever that they might not be able to go through with it due to illness. As a result, sales have been good across all our partners.

“Since reopening there’s been a boom in ticket insurance sales because there’s been a shift in the general public’s attitude to risk”

“The onset of Omicron meant we had an awful lot of claims. But fortunately, we were able to ensure that our refunds team had all the resources they needed. And we took people on to make sure that we were still delivering the highest levels of service.”

He says that the average uptake rate from ticket buyers has doubled since Covid. “I think although people want to go to things, they’re also aware that the amount they’ve spent on a ticket is important to them because we’re in a cost-of-living crisis. People still need to go to things, and they still need to have things to look forward to, but they’re more aware than ever that they might need their money back if they can’t use that ticket.”

“I think although people want to go to things, they’re also aware that the amount they’ve spent on a ticket is important to them because we’re in a cost-of-living crisis”

UK-headquartered TicketPlan has recently taken on new partners such as Skiddle, alongside existing clients, See Tickets and Gigantic. It’s added attractions such as [London’s] The View from The Shard and is expanding into sports events.

“We recently set up a subsidiary in Europe so that we can have a post-Brexit insurance solution,” says Bray. “What differentiates us from a lot of the other players in the market is our understanding that there’s no one-size-fits-all global solution. We tailor our solutions to each of our clients and each of the countries they operate in.” The firm has operations in the UK and across Europe and North America.

During the pandemic, the company invested in its API and ability to integrate its solutions, adding functionality and making the client dashboard more user-friendly, says Bray.

Tixserve
Tixserve’s white-label mobile digital ticketing service not only offers event organisers a secure and reliable entry system, it also provides a sophisticated understanding of exactly who’s coming to their show and the ability to drive up revenue through the company’s digital marketing and commerce features.

“As well as the secure QR code that gets fans into the venue, our app offers a ticket-based ‘mobile marketplace,’ which organisers and their business partners can populate with tailored, data-driven content, such as offers or pre-sales for merch, food and drinks, promotions and sponsored content, in-app ad space, or post-event messages,” says Tixserve co-founder James Kirby.

“As well as the secure QR code that gets fans into the venue, our app offers a ticket- based ‘mobile marketplace”

“It’s all about fan engagement and being able to monetise audiences using verified data combined with transparent and rigorous adherence to data privacy requirements.”

Kirby says as well as giving gig-goers the confidence their ticket is genuine through Tixserve’s verification process, the company has found that its app drives up marketing opt-ins.

“It’s all about fan engagement and being able to monetise audiences using verified data combined with transparent and rigorous adherence to data privacy requirements”

“We’ve noticed that sign-ups for marketing during the initial app registration process [are] way higher than online. For example, one of our clients in the sports sector has a marketing opt-in of 45%.”

The firm has delivered over 2.5million tickets, including shows by Dermot Kennedy, George Ezra, Ed Sheeran, and Stereophonics at the 1,200-capacity HMV Empire in Coventry, UK. For major artists like Sheeran and Stereophonics, the digital app meant the limited number of tickets could be strictly controlled and un-authorised resale prohibited. The firm also provided digital ticketing for five Sheeran stadium shows across the UK, through ticketing company Gigantic.

Easol
The organisers of snow sports and music festival Rise, Ben and Lisa Simpson, were frustrated with what was available for ticketing and marketing their own events. So they set up Easol in 2017 to bring together all the disparate strands associated with selling events.

“We ended up working with five different platforms: one for sales, one for ticketing, one for add-ons, one for packages, plus a front-end WordPress website,” says Ben. “And often they were taking the consumer off to another site. It was costing us a lot in conversion, and we couldn’t attribute data correctly.

“We ended up working with five different platforms: one for sales, one for ticketing, one for add-ons, one for packages, plus a front-end WordPress website”

At the same time, we felt these companies wanted to build the smallest amount of technology that served the smallest possible need, but they wanted to extract the maximum amount of economic gain for themselves: they wanted to keep 100% of the data, they wanted their brand to be the priority, and they charged ridiculous fees, sometimes in the region of up to 12%, when we took all the risk. Plus, they held onto our money, which strangled cashflow. We thought that was insane. Nothing else online today works in such an archaic manner.

Why can’t people buying tickets have the same experience online as, say Airbnb or any other multimillion dollar company’s transaction experience?”

Now, backed by over $25m (€25.35m) in financing from investors, Easol describes itself as the Shopify for event organisers.

“Why can’t people buying tickets have the same experience online as, say Airbnb or any other multimillion dollar company’s transaction experience?”

Simpson says the company offers “creators” a one-stop- shop for selling events and experiences, from out-of-the-box web designs, payment solutions, marketing options, and control over data. He adds that because Easol doesn’t keep ticket money in escrow, event organisers are responsible for their own cashflow, can charge their own booking fees, improve their conversion, and increase their basket value.

“There is only one screen on Easol you cannot customise: the final checkout page where the consumer puts in their credit card details. Everything else can be customised because every event is different and has its own needs. There’s very little [that] a creator on Easol can’t achieve in order to build the right journey for their customer.

They can set their own booking fee and can keep all of it; we’re launching more flexible payment methods now, such as payment plans, buy-now-pay-later, open banking. These are all incredibly important after what we’ve seen in 2022. We expect that in 2023 you’ll need to give customers more ways to book that work for them.”

Easol is also working with established financial lending businesses to offer festival organisers loans, as a way of helping established promoters with cashflow.

Total Ticketing
Leading promoter Magnetic Asia felt frustrated with the ticketing landscape in Hong Kong while looking for options for its flagship music and arts festival, Clockenflap. So it decided to set up its own in-house B2C ticketing platform in 2012 – Ticketflap. Now, it’s making it available to event organisers around the world.

Under its B2B brand, Total Ticketing, the company launched its Enterprise Ticketing System (ETS) in 2020 as a modern enterprise-grade Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that works for any scale of event, venue, attraction, or festival.

“We’re creating bespoke solutions for people who’ve got complex problems,” says sales director Martin Haigh, who explains the company signed a significant number of clients during the pandemic.

“We’re creating bespoke solutions for people who’ve got complex problems”

“Our fully customisable solution can be scaled to meet massive spikes in demand,” he adds. “It has multiple APIs for integration with sales partners; turnstiles and admission control systems; CRMs; RFID cashless payment; access control and more. Real-time reporting offers data visualisation and analysis tools within the system.”

The Total Ticketing platform can offer complex dynamic pricing and promotional tools to increase sales and revenue and respond to changes in demand in real-time. Clients can set their own fee structures, and funds are received directly from the client’s chosen payment processors, reducing pay-out times and eliminating counterparty risk inherent in the traditional ticketing service provider model.

“Our fully customisable solution can be scaled to meet massive spikes in demand”

With multiple sales channels covering a variety of online sales interfaces with different branding and URLs, box office, contact centre, agent networks, and extensive sales APIs for integration with apps, websites, WeChat mini-programs and kiosks, the white-label solution can be hosted worldwide, enabling promoters to sell wherever their consumers are.

As well as enabling promoters and venues to sell to their domestic market, agents can sell for events no matter where they are in the world. For example, an agent based in Canada could sell tickets to a festival in Korea, opening up potential new audiences.

The company has operations in Canada, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the UK.

Stager
Event planning software, plus event marketing tools, and an online ticketing service in one? That’s what Stager promises. Built by a group of people working in events and festivals in the Netherlands who wanted more control over their business processes and to reduce ticketing costs, the online tool is now at the fingertips of hundreds of venues, theatres, festivals, and event organisers across Europe.

“There are some important differences between Stager and other software tools in the ticketing industry,” says CEO Mike van Gaasbeek. “One is that others focus on making the customer ticket-buying journey as smooth as possible. But our approach is completely different. Making the customer journey smooth isn’t the real challenge.

“There are some important differences between Stager and other software tools in the ticketing industry”

The real challenge is organising your venue and being on top of all the processes of running a show or a festival. So our approach is to support the event organiser, then they are able to sell the tickets themselves.”

Stager’s virtual backstage provides the tools for preparing productions in detail and ensuring that crews know what to do, as well as running schedules, and personnel and task management. Its marketing capabilities include a CRM system, online marketing systems, email marketing software, and reporting tools.

“Our goal is to be a worldwide player in supporting event organisers to produce their shows, bringing in their audiences and making the people working on the floor happy”

And its multifunctional online ticketing service allows promoters and venues to sell direct to their audiences. What Van Gaasbeek says is so powerful about all this is not only that it’s been created by events professionals but that everything is under one system.

“Our goal is to be a worldwide player in supporting event organisers to produce their shows, bringing in their audiences and making the people working on the floor happy,” he says.

Ticket Tailor
Building a ticketing service that keeps as much money and data in the hands of promoters was the motivation for the founding of Ticket Tailor. The platform was built by Jonny White with the idea of keeping per-ticket costs down as much as possible.

But how do you build a successful business based on minimising costs? “It’s all about scale,” says commercial director George Follett. “If we were doing 100,000 tickets, it probably wouldn’t work. But we’ll do about 13m this year.”

But how do you build a successful business based on minimising costs? “It’s all about scale”

The pricing structure is simple and transparent: a flat fee on every ticket. “That can be paid for in two ways: you either do pay-as-you-go, which tends to be for smaller event organisers where it’s, like, 50p per ticket, or 65 cents in the USA. But you can also do pre-pay: the more you commit to the platform up front, the bigger the discount you get.

Let’s say you’re doing a festival for 20,000 tickets. You can buy 20,000 credits upfront, so instead of it being 50p per ticket it’s 20p. That’s a huge saving, which can make all the difference to a bottom line.”

He adds that the company doesn’t have a sales team, relying instead on word of mouth and the quality of its product, leading to average annual company growth of 50%. He says the company focuses on purposeful growth and puts 80% of spend into improving the product and 20% on marketing the company.

“We’ve had on-sales where we’ve done 10,000 tickets in five minutes, and it’s barely touched our queue system”

“Some self-serve platforms might be considered as not that robust when it comes to large on-sales,” adds Follett. “But we have a sophisticated system that will put people into a queuing system if demand is huge but that very rarely is needed, to be honest. We’ve had on-sales where we’ve done 10,000 tickets in five minutes, and it’s barely touched our queue system.”

Equally as important as building the business is creating an ethical organisation, says Follett. Ticket Tailor is the only independent ticketing company that’s B Corp certified, meaning social and environmental issues are in the DNA of the firm – the company is carbon neutral, it donates 1 pence (1 cent) of every ticket shared between three climate charity partners, and it has a very strong focus on being a great place to work.

Working worldwide, the company does 40% of sales in the UK, 40% are in the USA, and 20% in the rest of the world. The firm sold tickets in 180 countries last year.

Audience Republic
Losing AU$20,000 (€13,000) as a promoter, sparked Jared Kristensen to launch marketing software firm Audience Republic. The all-in-one CRM and marketing platform is specifically designed for events because, as Kristensen says, “the live industry is completely different to any other industry.”

A core part of the software is incentivising word-of-mouth sales. As well as being the most powerful form of marketing, it means promoters aren’t reliant on the vagaries of social media marketing, with all the often inefficient spending that they involve.

The all-in-one CRM and marketing platform is specifically designed for events because “the live industry is completely different to any other industry”

“We’ve got a unique gamified incentive process, which is all about encouraging people to refer their friends. One of the most popular is the presale registration process. The way that works is people sign up for presale access through a link created on our platform.

The promoter can then promote that across all their usual channels to drive people to sign up. And then people invite their friends to also sign up for presale access, getting points for each referral. They can also earn points for following across social media and completing other actions. You can reward top point scorers with things such as VIP tickets, meet-and-greets, or whatever you like.

“We’ve got a unique gamified incentive process, which is all about encouraging people to refer their friends”

“Typically, we’re seeing a doubling or tripling of the amount of signups through this process. But it’s not just about selling more presale tickets, although that helps. The point is using that announcement to build up a massive audience that the promoter owns. And then using that audience to sell the remainder of the general on sale.

“That invite from the friend is so much more persuasive than a sponsored post. And that right now has been super important because of the delayed buying pattern.”

He says the additional benefit of word-of-mouth sales is it reduces event organisers’ reliance on online paid ads to drive ticket sales. “Three or four years ago, people didn’t really care because it was working really well, wasn’t that expensive, and was pretty cost effective. Now it’s changed, it’s getting more expensive every year, ROI is decreasing, the results that they get from the same spend is decreasing.

Having your own audience means you’re not dependent on Facebook and Instagram to drive ticket sales, and you can communicate directly with fans through email, SMS, and any sort of other channels they have as well.”

The company has over 50 employees and operations in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Europe.


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