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UK report reveals Covid’s impact on ticketing

The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has published a report outlining the impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s ticketing industry.

Independent ticketing expert Will Quekett was commissioned to interview 39 stakeholders from across the ticketing and events industry between January to March 2022, including venues, event organisers and ticket agents, as well as the banking and finance sector.

According to the study, ticketing businesses reported an average drop in turnover of up to 85% in 2020 and 58% in 2021, while the sale of ticket protection products rocketed as customers sought to protect their risk. Ticket Protection companies reported a 300% increase in conversion at the peak of the pandemic, which has since stabilised at 200% of the pre-pandemic conversion rate.

“As the pandemic hit, overnight the ticketing industry went into crisis mode as it sought to support venues, event organisers and millions of ticket buyers,” says STAR CEO Jonathan Brown. “It was a truly remarkable effort that the whole industry should be proud of. However, there are always lessons to be learned as to how we can do things better and we hope that this report has been helpful in revealing the starting points for cross-industry discussions about improvements that can be made in the future.”

The report commended ticketing staff for their commitment through the pandemic, but found noted that employers have faced difficulties recruiting new staff when building back. Disputes through STAR – the self-regulatory body for live events ticketing in the UK – also rose from 2019 levels by 39% in 2020 and 73% in 2021.

“It is clear that there is room for improvement and clarity about how the ticketing and events industry operates”

The report includes recommendations for consideration by stakeholders across the live events industries, including greater consistency of ticketing policies, including the refunding of booking and transaction fees for cancelled events; and the development of improved customer service for ticket buyers through the introduction of technologies such as online self-service and chatbots to deal with FAQs.

It also calls for STAR to consider extending its Code of Practice to include standards of service and information for ticket protection, and to take on a more proactive role in relation to common industry practice.

“It was heartening to hear the praise for hard-working ticketing staff across the country,” says Quekett, the report’s author. “However, it is clear that there is room for improvement and clarity about how the ticketing and events industry operates to ensure that the public can continue to buy tickets with confidence.”

Interviewees were encouraged to be as open and honest as possible about their experiences, and were invited to give their views on what lessons could be learned for the future.

“STAR has always been at the forefront of cross-industry initiatives to improve consumer confidence in the ticketing industry,” adds STAR chair Andrew Sharp. “This report highlights how the customer-first approach adopted by our members helped them avoid many of the consumer issues and controversies that other sectors faced during the pandemic. STAR will use this report to lead the conversation within the live events industry to ensure that this work continues.”

 


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STAR urges “patience” as ticketers handle Covid-19 refunds

The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers has asked ticketholders to be “patient and kind” as ticket agencies process refunds and exchanges following sweeping event cancellations across the UK.

As the UK government advises the public to avoid gatherings of any size, events are being rescheduled or called off around the country as iconic venues including the O2 Arena, the Royal Albert Hall and Alexandra Palace close their doors until further notice.

UK ticketing industry body STAR is urging customers to avoid “flooding contact centres with calls and emails” and rather wait for ticketsellers to contact them regarding ticket exchanges or refunds.

“Rest assured, our members are working as hard as they can to resolve your issues,” saysd STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown. “They are very busy also dealing with their own measures to care for their staff and run their businesses.

“Please be patient and kind as box offices, ticket agents and other ticket sellers are committed to helping you during this extremely difficult period”

“Please be patient and kind as box offices, ticket agents and other ticketsellers are committed to helping you during this extremely difficult period.”

The Dutch culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (pictured) issued similar advice yesterday (18 March), calling on customers not to request refunds and encouraging them to accept alternative compensation offers, such as vouchers.

“We as a society can only overcome a crisis like this if we also show some solidarity and look after each other,” the minister told Dutch newspaper NRC. “If everyone is going to ask for their tickets back at the same time, that is asking a little too much of the sector.”

The option for ticket sellers to offer customers a voucher instead of a cash refund has been put forward by industry associations including Germany’s BDKV and Spain’s Esmúsica. BDKV has also asked for an extension to the time within which a refund must be paid, along with UK Music and the Colisium International Music Forum, which represents promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Photo: Frank Jansen/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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