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International Ticketing Report 2021: The Recovery

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 pandemic lessons, click here.


Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon observes that the coronavirus pandemic helped separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of dependable ticketing partners.

“It’s important for a company to make money in its model so that it is solid, capable of facing crises like this one, but also so that it is capable of investing and supporting in the long-term, and not only in the short-term or only on the basis of fundraising,” says Deballon.

“We can see this with completely crazy fundraising schemes for models whose profitability I really doubt can be proven. It’s a real issue because unprofitable players are players who have a short-term vision, with all that this can imply on the organisers’ databases.”

As the live entertainment market aims for a rapid recovery, Fair Ticket Solutions’ founder & CEO Alan Gelfand advocates paying attention to consumer choice when developing ticketing technology.

“The key element for ticketing companies is to find ways to identify people for health and security reasons without additional friction. Blockchain, digital/mobile, and NFTs only identify the transaction, not the actual identity of an attendee, which is where they all fall short.

“If the ticketing companies can tie an actual verified identity to the ticket, it could open up a new acceptance of biometrics”

“If the ticketing companies can tie an actual verified identity to the ticket, it could open up an entire new acceptance of biometrics and launch future new fan experiences based around biometrics, which have been talked about for years but not accomplished to date,” adds Gelfand.

“We are extremely positive about the prospects for the future,” says Event Genius & Festicket CEO Benjamin Leaver. “The coming months and years offer incredible opportunities to deliver the best-ever customer experiences in live entertainment.

“Promoters and customers expect nothing less than a seamless, delightful, digital-first experience. Our sole focus is to deliver this for our partners so that they can continue to put on extraordinary live entertainment across the world.”

Martin Haigh and Total Ticketing are also looking to forge closer relationships with promoter and event organiser partners to aid their prospects. “Our future roadmap is to a large part projected by the clients we service,” notes Haigh.

“Our development queue has never been longer, as such ticketing is only going to become more and more integrated into our clients’ infrastructure. We are continuing to invest heavily into allowing our clients to manage their inventory more elegantly, reach ever more consumers through our network and to maximise their revenue from each ticket sold.”

“Sustainability in all sectors will become more of a default setting, including the events industry”

But The Ticket Factory‘s Richard Howle concludes that companies must, first and foremost, listen to the needs of the fans. “One of the notable things that has changed in recent months has been customer sentiment – everyone seems angrier and more impatient,” he says.

“As an industry we need to do more to put audiences first, ensuring we are doing the right thing by them. We have a lot of building back to do and we need to bring fans with us, making sure we are open and fair to them. Over the past 18 months [fans] have found other things to do with their leisure time and money and, yes, whilst there is pent-up demand, we shouldn’t take it for granted.”

TicketPlan’s Ben Bray agrees. “Many fans will want the reassurance that the environments they attend are safe and secure and, given the heightened understanding of risk that now exists, they will continue to purchase TicketPlan on a wide range of bookings with generally, higher attachment rates,” he surmises.

“Sustainability in all sectors will become more of a default setting, including the events industry, and whilst the impact of the pandemic has inevitably and necessarily meant that our sector has focused on its survival, sustainability will become a crucial part of the planning and design of events.”

Paul Newman says the strategy of AXS will be to “continue to support our clients, making their customers feel happy and safe to return to the live events market.”

He concludes, “Demand is very strong, but with a flooded market of events, people will be making choices to see artists that mean the most to them. The key is getting the right events in front of the right customers, at the right time; and we are committed to working with our partner venues and promoters to do exactly that.”

 


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International Ticketing Report 2021: New products and services

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 communication, click here.


Event Genius & Festicket CEO Benjamin Leaver notes that the pandemic shutdown created additional time for individuals and companies to develop new products and services – time that ticketing service providers the world over have been exploiting.

“One of the biggest takeaways for us is the accelerated embrace of technology in the industry, from digital ticketing to contactless access and cashless payment systems,” Leaver says. “Although the adoption has been quicker because of the pandemic, we strongly believe the change will benefit the industry in the long-term.”

AXS director of ticketing, Paul Newman, agrees. “The last 18 months have afforded us the opportunity to accelerate the development of a number of initiatives that would have otherwise taken far longer to implement,” he says, citing AXS opening up its mobile ID technology to other ticket agents.

“Taking notice of the feedback from the customer sentiment surveys we have undertaken; we have introduced venue iconography and other features into our purchase flow to give returning customers the information and reassurances they seek to return to live events.”

Weezevent CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, says: “Over the last 18 months, we have essentially worked on the relaunch: the challenge was to ensure that the teams were ready for the relaunch and that the product was also ready. To do this, we worked on international development by buying the company PlayPass.

“We also reworked our capital structure by buying out the shares of Veepee, which was a shareholder of Weezevent, in order to be completely independent. This makes us one of the few truly independent European players in our sector.”

“The last 18 months have afforded us the opportunity to accelerate the development of a number of initiatives”

It’s also been a time for acquisitions at Dice, which bought Boiler Room, as well as completing a $122m (€105m) funding exercise.

“We built-out our live-stream offering working with 6,400 artists on quality streams; we developed and rolled out a completely new client tool with collaboration from our partners; we made massive design and functionality improvements across our app and website; and we opened up a new HQ in New York,” says Russ Tannen of Dice.

On a B2B level, Leaver says, “We developed our Ticket Management Portal [TMP], which allows event organisers to be fully track-and-trace compliant by collecting all attendee details. The TMP also allows fans to easily share tickets with friends, as well as letting organisers seamlessly communicate with all eventgoers rather than solely lead bookers.”

Fair Ticket Solutions’ founder & CEO, Alan Gelfand, meanwhile, says, “We have spent the time evolving our identity-based platform to include a pre-clearance tie-in of the health requirements to activate all types of ticket formats.”

And in Hong Kong, Total Ticketing‘s Martin Haigh tells IQ, “We have developed a global distribution system allowing us to ingest ticketing inventory from a large number of inventory holders and redistribute it to hundreds of agents, managing CMS, sales, invoices, credits. This allows for massive increased discovery.

“Alongside the ongoing development of our ticketing software, we have also created Total Streaming to give promoters the ability to mix and match in person and streamed sales through our platforms and to geofence viewers and enforce a single-viewer-per-link on our streams.”

“We took this moment to take our business global”

Mark Yovich says the pandemic pause allowed Ticketmaster to fulfil long-held ambitions. “We took this moment to take our business global,” he says. “Our goal was to unify across the globe as a single team with a single mission – to innovate and build one incredible experience for fans and clients wherever they are in the world.”

“CTS Eventim has used the time of the pandemic for numerous strategic initiatives to emerge even stronger from the crisis,” reports chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff. “These include product developments. Among these, our digital ticket EVENTIM.Pass stands out in particular.”

Taking the opportunity to “make ticketing more seamless for both the promoter and customer,” Skiddle’s head of marketing, Jamie Scahill, says. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve launched our beta Promotion Centre to current promoters, built from the ground-up.

“[It] provides new features such as bulk-editing events, bulk-embargoing events, new dashboards, embed-listing widgets for promoters and more. We’ve also introduced a DIY payment plan builder for promoters to have greater control over the payment plans they want to offer to customers.”

Not to be outdone, Richard Howle says The Ticket Factory is close to completing an overhaul of its payment systems, offering increased security for customers when they are booking online.

“We have also installed a brand-new telephone system in our dedicated contact centre. It’s becoming increasingly rare in the ticketing industry for this kind of personalised interaction – and it’s something we’re committed to and really value as a business,” says Howle.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

International Ticketing Report 2021: Consumer behaviour

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 staffing click here.


In addition to purchasing add-on insurance coverage, fans are often waiting until the 11th hour to buy tickets for certain events – although some recent tours and dates for A-list acts next year have sold out within minutes.

While that dichotomy could give promoters sleepless nights, what is proving more certain is the willingness of the general public to embrace digital ticketing. This has been accelerated by the pandemic, as people recognise the health and hygiene benefits of steering away from physical passes for events.

“Digital transformation has significantly changed attitudes towards digital tickets – a Rubicon has been crossed,” says Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh. “Contactless purchase, fulfilment, transfer, and redemption is very attractive given the pandemic. Digitally connecting tickets to waivers and proof-of-vaccine may soon be mandatory.”

Scahill states, “Much like we’ve seen with promoters, we expect more of an increase in demand towards the use of digital tickets vs physical as consumers become more accustomed to using technology throughout the pandemic. In addition to this, sustainability is somewhat of a hot-button issue in the events and touring industry, so the more we can limit paper usage in the ticketing industry, the better.”

“Contactless purchase, fulfilment, transfer, and redemption is very attractive given the pandemic”

However, pointing out that a digital ticket merely identifies the mobile phone’s IMEI number, rather than the person holding it, Fair Ticket Solutions’ founder & CEO, Alan Gelfand, comments, “Attendees now have to provide some additional physical form of ID for entry, so whether a ticket is on their phone or physical now becomes only a matter of what the attendee deems convenient for them and should have their choice of deciding, not dictated to.”

And that scepticism wins favour with CTS Eventim chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff, who contends that not everyone will embrace the digital switch. “We believe very strongly that many customers will want to continue to receive a physical ticket or receive it in addition,” he tells IQ.

“An electronic ticket in a virtual wallet hardly triggers anticipation of a concert. In contrast, a paper ticket on the fridge or on the pinboard evokes exactly that feeling. A physical ticket also plays a very important role for many fans as a souvenir of a great concert experience.”

Nonetheless, Richard Howle from The Ticket Factory states, “The pandemic has forced the public (whether they like it or not) to embrace mobile technology with the use of tools like the [UK’s] NHS Covid App. It was only a matter of time until digital ticketing arrived, and the pandemic has simply accelerated that process. Some of our first events to go to 100% digital ticketing were non-music events with audiences that traditionally find it harder to adopt these technologies.”

“Within the next two years I expect that 90% of tickets issued will be digital”

He adds, “Within the next two years I expect that 90% of tickets issued will be digital.”

And Benjamin Leaver, CEO, Event Genius & Festicket says his company’s investment into mobile-friendly products sets them up nicely for the manic 2022 events schedule.

“For example, we recently released our new Festicket customer app, which makes it easier for eventgoers to access their tickets offline from their mobile device, speed-up entry, reduce possible overcrowding at entry gates and generally improve audience flow,” he says.

Indeed, Total Ticketing’s Haigh cites a fundamental shift in attitudes when it comes to digital adoption. “We operate in Asia and there is a cultural proclivity towards conservatism, yet we are seeing clients in some of Asia’s most conservative countries embrace and even demand digital ticketing, where just a year or two ago we were being told that ticket buyers would only accept physical tickets,” he reports.

“We believe that digital ticketing opens up a whole new world of engagement and activation opportunities for live-event promoters and sponsors and as such it’s inevitable that transformation towards digital ticketing will accelerate.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

International Ticketing Report 2021: Changing Landscape

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, starting with an instalment that reflects on the changing landscape. However, subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.


In years gone by, IQ’s annual examination of the ticketing business has merited a standalone book – the International Ticketing Yearbook (ITY). However, the pandemic decimated the business, globally, with many operations forced to run with a skeleton staff that had to deal with the thousands of postponed and rescheduled shows and events, often multiple times, as well as the complexity of refunds and/or voucher schemes.

As the countdown to 2022 begins in earnest, the ticketing sector was among the first in the live entertainment sector to start bringing its employees back into the workplace. And the results have been phenomenal. On-sales such as Ed Sheeran and Coldplay have both seen more than a million tickets snapped up, while hundreds of artists and acts are planning to hit the road, meaning many venues are experiencing seven-days-a-week bookings for the first time in their history.

Covid willing, 2022 should be a record-breaking year for the live events industry. But there are still significant territories operating under pandemic restrictions, and the prospect of more virulent variants of Covid-19 emerging over the winter months in the northern hemisphere remains an all-too-real threat for promoters and event organisers everywhere.

Setting such concerns aside, momentarily, IQ spoke with a number of leading industry executives about the challenges – past, present, and future – to gauge the health of the international ticketing business.

“We’ve been leading the move to mobile tickets for some time, but the pandemic has fast-tracked their adoption industry-wide”

Changing landscape
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is driving seismic changes in the ticketing sector worldwide, acting as a catalyst for digitisation but also prompting certain operators to question their participation in the business.

Ticketmaster president, Mark Yovich, says, “We’ve been leading the move to mobile tickets for some time now, but the pandemic has fast-tracked their adoption industry-wide. The benefits were always there but are even more clear-cut in a post-Covid world.”

He explains, “For the fan, it provides a convenient and frictionless experience. For the event organiser, more insight than ever before. In the past when someone would buy four tickets, it was a matter of guessing who those other three tickets went to. Now we know who walks through the door and can serve them up a more personalised and enjoyable experience from the moment the ticket lands in their Ticketmaster account right through to showtime.”

Digital services are also a priority for CTS Eventim chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff. “The entire industry must work to get fans back to shows in similar numbers to 2019,” he says.

“Ticketing will become even more digital. In markets where electronic entry-control has not been standard, we will see this after the pandemic. As digitalisation continues, we will be able to offer exciting new products. One example is the Eventim.Pass digital ticket, which has already been used for Ed Sheeran’s European tour.”

“The reality of the liabilities that ticket companies carry in the event of cancellation has really hit home during the pandemic”

Ruoff explains that Eventim.Pass tickets can only be resold via the company’s official resale platform, fanSALE, “which means they are fully traceable,” he says. “It is an important contribution in the fight against the unauthorised secondary ticket market.”

Jamie Scahill, head of marketing for Skiddle, says even clients that were reluctant to adopt digital and paperless systems are now changing direction.

“For example, during the pandemic, Skiddle provided ticketing for local football clubs in the UK using our RapidScan ticket scanning app software to provide contactless entry,” he says. “Such clubs had not adopted paperless entry pre-pandemic and this trend is looking set to continue across a range of sectors in the events industry.”

That’s a development that Richard Howle from The Ticket Factory welcomes. But he recognises that economic hardship has taken its toll. “Commercially, it has made us more risk-averse,” he admits. “I know that some promoters and organisers are struggling to get advances as the ticketing industry becomes more cautious.

“The reality of the liabilities that ticket companies carry in the event of cancellation has really hit home during the pandemic and that will reflect attitudes and commercial decisions going forward, particularly for new promoters and event organisers,” he warns.

“Over 70% of eventgoers would be more encouraged to attend an event if it had a cashless system”

The advantages of digital tickets are crucial to Fair Ticket Solutions, whose founder & CEO, Alan Gelfand, notes, “The need to know the identity of every attendee has finally come to fruition. This will ultimately move the industry to a futuristic goal of some form of biometrics becoming an attendee’s ticket, such as their face or palm. Additionally, an attendee’s health status will now have to be linked to their ticket or else physical checks will still have to be applied at gate entry causing delays nobody wants.”

While debates over biometric tickets will be a feature of industry conferences in the months ahead, the pandemic has also caused untold financial damage to the ticketing sector, meaning that some of the smaller operators, in particular, may not re-emerge.

“The pandemic has weakened the players who were in a more challenging position, notably in terms of cash flow,” states Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon. “It also highlighted the difficulties of some players in managing high-volume refunds, while it has underlined the advantages of having access to more flexible and adaptable technology like Weezevent.”

Benjamin Leaver, CEO, Event Genius & Festicket, claims that event organisers who adopt contactless and cashless technology will benefit. “A survey we did recently revealed that over 70% of eventgoers would be more encouraged to attend an event if it had a cashless system,” says Leaver, citing his company’s own egPay system.

“Beyond that, we’ve seen a definitive rise in the usage of alternative payment methods, such as our payment plans and Pay with Friends feature. These allow customers to reduce immediate costs, allowing them to purchase more events at one time, and also goes hand in hand with the increase in average order value.”

“Much intellectual property has left the industry as a result of ticketing companies downsizing their workforces”

While Dice president Russ Tannen points to the adoption of live-streaming as a direct result of lockdown restrictions, at AXS, director of ticketing Paul Newman cites four fundamental Covid factors: purchase patterns have altered, with last-minute bookings having increased; the increase in the uptake of ticket insurance; the need for increased levels of communication to customers, such as Covid protocols and other advance show information; and the acceleration of the move to digital tickets and contactless venues.

“We have seen a strong migration to timed entry ticketing for museums and attractions as well as digital tickets and hands-free check in,” affirms Steven Sunshine, CEO of California-based TixTrack.

Across the Pacific, in Hong Kong, Martin Haigh at Total Ticketing is counting the casualties. “Ticketing companies that are part of larger integrated companies have appeared to have weathered the storm more easily. That being said, we’ve seen conglomerates in Thailand, Japan, and Korea look to sell their ticketing divisions – something that has never been on the cards in living memory,” he observes.

“Much intellectual property has left the industry as a result of ticketing companies downsizing their workforces. Independent ticketing companies have looked for bridging loans or investment to remain afloat. Many have pivoted towards livestreaming; many have looked at ancillary revenue streams more closely with things like ticket insurance and ‘buy now, pay later’ being pushed very hard during the check-out process.”

One company noticing a surge in interest is TicketPlan, which offers ticket protection services. “Attachment rates for ticket protection and insurance will continue to be high, as ticket buyers now understand the potential risk of being unable to attend and will continue to purchase products such as TicketPlan on a wider range of bookings,” comments company CEO Ben Bray.

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