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Warnings over ‘digital divide’ as events restart

Campaigners in Europe, Asia and Australasia have warned that the move towards digital and mobile tickets for events, attractions and transport, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, risks broadening the ‘digital divide’ and excluding older people as life returns to its new normal.

Some event organisers and sports clubs have moved towards a digital-only model while coronavirus restrictions are in place, raising fears that those without access to the internet or a smartphone are being excluded as live events return.

“At the moment it seems that many businesses in the events and entertainment industry are requiring customers to book online or via a smartphone, which automatically rules out many older people,” says Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, the UK’s largest charity for older people, which revealed recently that nearly half of elderly people in England are still non-users of the internet, the figures “bust[ing] the myth that the pandemic has driven most older people online”.

“A policy of this kind therefore risks widening the digital divide,” Abrahams continues, “and reducing the opportunities for many older people to go out and enjoy socialising once again.”

Academic studies have also shown how barriers to using the internet affect younger people who have disabilities: a 2017 study in Poland demonstrated “a significant digital divide” between the disabled and able-bodied population, while a 2021 paper showed multiple ‘disability divides’ in Sweden.

In the UK, the Audience Access Alliance recently published a ten-point reopening checklist for event organisers to make sure their shows are accessible to all when concerts restart. Point #3 is that if tickets on sale, they should be accessible to deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people. Writing for IQ last month, Attitude is Everything’s Suzanne Bull said she knows “of at least ten events that have gone live selling tickets without having staffed access booking services”.

“While we understand the need for event venues to prioritise infection control, we also think they need to ensure they are being genuinely inclusive”

The growing digital divide has led to some countries investing in initiatives to help their citizens feel more confident about buying digital tickets and services.

In Australia, a A$20 million (US$15m) government-funded programme, delivered by UK-based charity Good Things Foundation, is offering free workshops on digital skills for over-50s. “Unless people have the confidence to use digital, they are going to be left behind,” says national director Jess Wilson.

Another group, Cultural Diversity Network, is working with Good Things Foundation to reach migrants, asylum seekers and ethnic minorities. “Our participants come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and while they came here on skilled migration and are educated, they are not that skilled in technology information,” says the organisation’s president, Sabrin Farooqui, who says its workshops held participants become confident using social media, Zoom, booking tickets and online shopping.

Other countries putting public money into bridging the digital divide are China and South Korea, with the latter opening 1,000 digital education centres are part of the government’s ‘digital new deal’ programme.

For Age UK, which is also campaigning for older customers to be able to continue to make payments in cash, events must continue to offer physical tickets in order to be inclusive to people of all ages.

“While we fully understand the need for event venues like Wimbledon” – the tennis tournament whose ticket ballot was this year online only, and which prohibits the transferring of tickets to non-online friends and relatives – “to prioritise infection control, we also think they need to ensure they are being genuinely inclusive,” says Abrahams. And that means offering an easily accessible offline booking option as well.”

 


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Greek ticketer Viva expands marketplace into Europe

Viva Online Services, Greece’s largest ticketing retailer since 2010, is opening up its marketplace to organisers across Europe in a bid to capitalise on the platform’s success in the domestic market.

The company, which is owned by pan-European neobank Viva Wallet, was established in 2005 and has generated more than 11 million orders and €230 million in ticket revenue in the last 10 years.

Viva’s platform and services are now available to organisers in 23 countries, in all European languages and currencies.

In order to start selling tickets, organisers will be required to set up a Viva Wallet Business Account, which will enable them to receive money from pre-sales in real-time.

Viva’s platform and services are now available to organisers in 23 countries, in all European languages and currencies

Organisers will benefit from a low commission, based on IC+2,06%, which includes the credit card acquiring fees.

All event presale pages and streaming pages are customisable and can be embedded into the organiser’s website. Bonus features include customisation, loyalty cards, donation and merchandise add-ons and ad-pixel tracking.

The ticketing platform is compatible with Viva Streaming, which launched in November 2020 and has already hosted more than 300 livestream events by organisers in Greece and Cyprus.

According to Viva, more than 195, 000 tickets (unique streaming access codes) have been sold for livestreaming events.

 


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Countdown to the Arthurs 2020: Andrew Parsons

Individuals and events will be crowned across 11 categories at the Arthur Awards Winners’ Dinner on 5 March, as the music industry’s response to the Oscars returns to the glamorous Sheraton Grand Park Lane hotel.

Last year’s 25th anniversary awards saw success for Britannia Row’s Bryan Grant, FKP Scorpio’s Folkert Koopmans, ICM Partners’ Kevin Jergensen and Live Nation’s Selina Emeny, as well as the teams at the Royal Albert Hall, British Summer Time Hyde Park and Mad Cool Festival, among others.

As the Emma Banks-hosted ceremony draws ever closer, IQ chats to some previous winners to find out what receiving an Arthur meant to them and to discover their biggest hopes and dreams for the future.

Up first is Andrew Parsons, managing director of the UK division of Ticketmaster, four-time recipients of the Arthurs’ Golden Ticket award.

 


Arthur has been very kind to us over the years. Well, every other year really but who’s counting? (I am). It is always great to receive recognition from within the industry but all the more so from a room full of event partners past, present and future to whom we owe so much. Even if half of them won’t remember who actually won anything come that painful next morning!

Arthur resides on the edge of a desk, where all awards should be kept. He unfortunately took a bit of a battering on the night though from victory laps with team TM. So, Arthur’s head is now somewhat disconnected from his pedestal.

It is always great to receive recognition from within the industry, all the more so from a room full of event partners past, present and future

Emma Banks’ regal-like presenting performance at the Arthurs is always very good value. And Alex Hardee’s stand-up routines are now pretty legendary. Overall though, it is that the awards do not take themselves too seriously that makes them so unique and such a positive experience – nothing that will overly get in the way of a good dinner with friends.

ILMC is a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from other territories. Our Ticketmaster Australia ticketing cousins always live up superbly well to all the stereotypes and are a guaranteed excellent night out every time.

On a serious note to finish, 2019 was the year we brought accessible ticketing online and mobile. All fans should be able to have the same level of access to buying tickets the way they want on any given on sale and we were determined to make that happen. It was also the year that digital tickets exploded onto the scene opening up so many opportunities. We can’t wait to see where 2020 takes us.

 


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See Tickets launches secure digital tickets

See Tickets has launched a secure, non-transferable digital ticketing system to help combat the secondary market.

Each digital ticket features a dynamically refreshing barcode which is uniquely tied to a customer’s user account, mobile device and See Tickets app. Once at the venue, See’s access control system will decrypt the unique barcode to allow entry.

Customers can purchase tickets with digital delivery options as usual via the See Tickets website.

“The launch of digital tickets is a major milestone in our persistent anti-secondary market strategy as we now have a secure ticketing solution we can offer to our clients to use at any venue, on any show,” says Rob Wilmshurst, chief executive of See Tickets.

The move has been praised by anti-tout campaign group FanFair Alliance.

“The launch of digital tickets is a major milestone in our persistent anti-secondary market strategy”

“We welcome See Tickets’ continued efforts to keep tickets in the hands of genuine customers by investing in the development of secure, anti-tout technology,” comments campaign manager Adam Webb. “It should make the ticket purchasing and venue entry process safer, faster and more consumer-friendly.”

See Tickets launched the UK’s first integrated face-value ticket resale service, Fan-to-Fan, in 2017, selling more than 35,000 tickets through the site since then. See has rolled out anti-secondary market initiatives for artists including Ed Sheeran and the Arctic Monkeys and developed the photo ID registration system with Glastonbury.

See Tickets’ music client list includes Glastonbury, SJM Concerts, Kilimanjaro, Universal Music Group, Alexandra Palace, One Inch Badge and Communion Music.

Digital tickets will be used for the first time for Declan McKenna’s tour, which goes on sale on Friday 6 September at 8 a.m. (BST). Tickets for the four-date tour are priced from £16.50.

 


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TM UK records biggest weekend for digital tickets

The long weekend of 12–14 July was one of the biggest in recent memory for the Ticketmaster UK team, with more digital tickets processed at greenfield sites than at any time since the technology’s introduction.

A third of tickets at Trnsmt in Glasgow (Friday 12–Sunday 14 July) were mobile-only, and 100% of Ticketmaster tickets at Lovebox (12–13 July) and Citadel (14 July), held in Gunnersbury Park, London, were delivered to fans’ mobile phones.

Festivalgoers were reminded in advance to download tickets using the TM mobile app; for those that didn’t, wifi hotspots were set up in the queue so getting into the festival was as quick as possible.

A transfer function, meanwhile, enabled fans to pass tickets to the phones of other people in their party – every person needed their own individual downloaded ticket – meaning Ticketmaster and the festivals knew every person entering the site (rather than just the buyer), reducing ticket fraud while increasing in- and post-event marketing potential.

“Our team scanned more mobile tickets than ever before at events across the UK last weekend, with 100% of tickets at Lovebox and Citadel delivered to fan’s mobiles,” explains Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster UK.

“It was a fantastic outcome for us and, most importantly, the fans”

“What we saw was the fast and frictionless entry of fans into the shows they love, along with a significant reduction in ticket fraud. A further benefit of mobile tickets is that we now know the individual attendees who walked through the festival gates, so we’ve increased our marketing potential even further.

“We’re in the business of happy fans, and it’s clear from a very successful weekend that mobile is the way forward.”

Rory Bett, CEO of Lovebox and Citadel promoter MAMA, adds: “This was our first foray into using mobile tickets at Lovebox and Citadel and we’re pleased to say it was huge success. It was one of the most effortless experiences we’ve had getting fans on site, and quick, too.

“Together with the Ticketmaster team it was a fantastic outcome for us and, most importantly, the fans. We’re now looking ahead to the rest of the festival season and beyond.”

Ticketmaster began rolling out SafeTix, its new anti-counterfeiting technology for digital tickets, in North America earlier this year.

 


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Irish ticketer Tixserve lands Twickenham deal

Mobile, white-label ticketing platform Tixserve has announced a multi-year partnership with London’s Twickenham Stadium.

The ticketing company will now deliver all tickets for Rugby Football Union (RFU) matches at the stadium.

The partnership follows a trial period that tested the compatibility of Tixserve software with existing ticketing infrastructure at Twickenham, provided by Ticketmaster and Fortress.

The Tixserve system prevents the unauthorised resale of tickets and provides customers with maps and directions, match or show day real-time updates and targeted mobile marketing. The service also collects data for venue operators.

Tixserve managing director and co-founder Pat Kirby says he is “delighted” to have secured RFU as a flagship client.

“We can provide the best secure digital ticketing solution for the RFU and its clubs, as well as concert promoters and music fans”

Kirby adds that the “close working relationship” between Tixserve and RFU “means that we can provide the best secure digital ticketing solution for the RFU and its clubs, sponsors and supporters, as well as concert promoters and music fans who also use the world-famous Twickenham Stadium.”

Twickenham presented its biggest-ever live music programme last summer, with shows from the Rolling Stones and Eminem.

“This is an important strategic agreement for the RFU as more and more fans now expect the convenience of being able to use their mobile devices to access events,” says RFU commercial officer Simon Massie-Taylor.

“We believe this service will greatly enhance the experience at Twickenham Stadium.”

Tixserve partnered with Ireland’s largest independent ticketing company, Tickets.ie, in April 2018. According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, Tickets.ie processes more than 2.7 million tickets annually for over 6,000 events.

 


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