The innovators: 2019’s ticketing pioneers
Technology and ticketing go hand-in-hand and, in recent years, an increasing number of companies have developed innovative solutions to make the ticketing sector more secure and sophisticated for event organisers, venue operators and fans alike.
As part of the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019 (ITY), IQ talks to ticketing companies Oxynade, Tixserve, Protect Group, Activity Stream, Queue-it, Ticketline, Ticketplan, Gigantic, the Ticket Factory, Ticketmaster, Tickets.ie and FanDragon Technologies to gain a deeper insight into the most significant technological advances affecting the industry today.
The white-label ticketing partner offers an all-round system that includes a fully equipped back office, box office and specialised features covering a broad range of verticals, meaning ticketing companies don’t need to take on the cost and resources of setting up their own platform. The company’s eTicketing as a service (eTaaS) solution launched in 2017 and already has a global clientele.
Recently the Belgium-based company has invested heavily in improving its offer from an UI and UX perspective, with clear flows for ticket-buyers. It has also updated its API integration to enable clients to use their own Payment Service Provider (PSP). This means people can not only pay using their preferred PSP, but ticketers can offer bundles such as merch, food coupons or travel services, which can drive up revenues. Furthermore, the upgraded API offers ticket-buyers the opportunity to complete purchases using other forms of payment, such as gift vouchers, pre-charged cards or even ‘event currency’.
In September 2018, the firm launched its inaugural eTaaS Summit in Germany, which drew almost 50 delegates from 14 countries for networking and insightful panels. The event will take place again in April 2020, with a new approach. “We want to go really in-depth,” says company spokesperson Hannah Coekaerts. “We’re inviting international clients and top-notch speakers.”
The Belgium-based company has invested heavily in improving its offer from an UI and UX perspective, with clear flows for ticket-buyers
The B2B, Software-as-a-Service, white-label, ticket fulfilment company enables its clients to deliver secure digital tickets to their customers’ mobile phones.
Tixserve launched in the UK in 2017, and managing director Patrick Kirby says that its focus on solving problems for clients and doing trials with potential clients is now delivering strong growth for the company.
In April 2019, the company announced a partnership with UK entertainment retailer HMV to help with its diversification into live events. Tixserve worked with HMV to deliver signing sessions with US band Twenty One Pilots at six stores. The events took place during the UK leg of the band’s Bandito tour and were fully digitally ticketed. Passes were sold by HMV as part of a bundle with the band’s fifth album, Trench.
In the run-up to the events, touts were advertising yet-to-be-activated Tixserve tickets online for up to £200 – a mark-up of more than 1000% on the album/ticket bundle. When fans alerted HMV of these cases, organisers were able to disable all ticket transfer functionality, unless authorised, on a case-by-case basis, by using Tixserve’s technology.
In July 2019, Tixserve announced a multiyear agreement with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for the provision of secure digital ticket delivery services for Twickenham Stadium, the home of England Rugby. The competitive tendering process involved extensive trials with full system testing at numerous events to validate the Tixserve digital ticket fulfilment solution, which included the ability to operate with the existing infrastructure at Twickenham Stadium provided by Ticketmaster and Fortress.
“Tixserve will be announcing a number of other high-profile client deals in the second half of 2019, in the music, theatre, and sports segments of the live events market”
Speaking after the deal, Kirby said: “Tixserve will be announcing a number of other high-profile client deals in the second half of 2019, in the music, theatre, and sports segments of the live events market. We are excited by the scale of opportunity of working with the RFU and the momentum of this success has already opened up business development opportunities for Tixserve not just in the UK and Ireland but in Europe, the USA and Asia.”
Market interest in digital ticketing has significantly increased over the last 12 months, to the extent that Tixserve is now handling a large volume of inbound enquiries from potential clients. Kirby says: “We are not in the business of selling ‘technology’ to clients but instead we focus on understanding the needs of potential clients and solving their business problems with a software platform that uses proven, high-performance and cost-effective enabling technologies.”
He also cautions against the hype associated with many start-up, technology- led companies setting out to ‘disrupt’ an industry such as the live event ticketing sector. “Tixserve’s mission is to add value to the live events industry by enabling its clients to gain business benefits from the adoption of digital ticketing including convenience for customers, security, authorised ticket exchange, lower costs, ‘know your customer’ data capture, and new digital commerce revenue streams that have the potential to transform the ticket into a profit centre.”
Protect Group provides innovative event cancellation protection and refund protection to all sizes and types of ticketing companies, platforms, events, venues, sports teams and more.
“We developed our solutions to not only provide the broadest and most comprehensive protection to our members and their ticket buyers, but also to generate new revenue streams to tackle rising costs and reduced margins for events,” says Ben Lenighan, head of commercial partnerships at Protect Group.
Protect Group first experienced success with Event Protect, their event cancellation protection, which was primarily for ticketing companies but also allowed organisers to reduce their financial risk and be assured their events were protected. This was due to increasing cancellation risks globally, as well as demand for a quicker and a more cost-effective insurance solution of this type.
Soon after, Refund Protect was created after the company saw the chance to create a more consumer-centric refund protection product for ticketing companies.
Ticketing companies integrate Event Protect and Refund Protect via a simple API, which allows sales transactions to be underwritten by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, Tokio Marine HCC and Swiss Re – three of the largest insurance providers.
“We developed our solutions to not only provide the broadest and most comprehensive protection to our members and their ticket buyers, but also to generate new revenue streams to tackle rising costs and reduced margins for events”
Protect Group says this means events and attendees have the best protection in place without admin work required from the organiser and/or ticketing company and with no upfront costs.
Since inception Protect Group says it has underwritten millions of transactions, handling the entire refund process for ticketing companies and events.
Lenighan continues, “The key is to refund attendees quickly and transparently, either if the event cancels or if the attendee themselves cannot attend the event due to unforeseen circumstances. We do this within seven days, with an average refund time globally of four days, to ensure that attendees are kept satisfied and negative social media impact is reduced.”
Based in Leeds, UK, Protect Group has members in over 25 different countries. It is opening international business hubs in North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Oceania as part of a global expansion resulting from an increase in demand.
The aim of Activity Stream is to make data accessible and valuable to the layman, so people can understand important information relating to ticket sales without needing a data science qualification.
When it comes to analysing data, most organisations are left with two choices: working manually with reporting tools and making lists and reports in Excel, or (for the major organisations only) investing in building your own data warehouse combining data from multiple sources. But that’s a multiyear project, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and takes up key resources.
“We launched the company based on a middle way, a model of SaaS,” says Martin Gammeltoft. “We used AI, cluster analysis and weak-pattern recognition that you wouldn’t get by working in Excel, and built an AI model to predict ticket sales.
“Our AI is trained on multiple data sets rather than solely based on the one organisation’s it’s plugged into, so it’s able to help people straight away.
“It looks at things like whether some categories are moving faster than others, are you attracting lots of first-time buyers to specific events; it combines the ticket sales information and the digital side of things so you can look at the effect of campaigns. You can see ticket sales in real time but also see where they are coming from – whether it’s a Facebook campaign or mail-out or from one of your partners.”
“AI is like someone who has 40 years’ experience in the industry at 16 different venues – they can’t specifically email one person, but they apply their knowledge to their latest job”
The resulting easy-to-understand platform gives powerful insights that help improve marketing, planning, saves time and improves revenues, says Gammeltoft.
“The nature of AI is that you can train the model on data sets, and then transfer the learning to other organisations. So you never see a competitor’s data or use it, but the AI has learned from many sets. It’s like someone who has 40 years’ experience in the industry at 16 different venues – they can’t specifically email one person, but they apply their knowledge to their latest job. The AI learns from patterns but it’s not bringing specific consumers’ information or sales or events.
“It can tell you things like 92% of your Facebook sales are a particular demographic, so maybe you need to adjust that, or that a particular high-value customer hasn’t bought a ticket in 16 months but has suddenly come back.”
Gammeltoft, who has a background in economics, believes these AI-assisted insights will have a profound effect on the industry because they can identify things a human might not notice.
Clients include AXS, The Shubert Organization and London’s Barbican Centre.
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