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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: Pandemic Lessons

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 secondary ticketing, click here.


Dealing with the various Covid restrictions, lobbying for government support, and having to make difficult decisions over staff cuts have been unprecedented tasks for ticketing company senior management over the past 18 months. But what have been the biggest lessons that they have learned throughout the crisis?

Eventim’s chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff is optimistic following the long pause in business. “People’s longing for live entertainment remains unbroken even after 18 months of pandemic, and the fans’ loyalty to their favourite artists,” he says.

“What was and is also great is the cohesion of our employees during the pandemic and how everyone worked together to ensure that CTS Eventim emerges even stronger from the crisis.”

But he is all too aware that the industry needs to do more to elevate its status in the minds of politicians. “Culture and the people’s need for culture and live entertainment apparently do not always enjoy the status in politics that would be desirable,” he says.

“Our industry was the first to go and the last to return, and it was tough,” says Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich. “As a global business with global teams, we had colleagues experiencing every possible pandemic scenario at different times – so learnings, advice, and sympathetic ears were invaluable. They say your colleagues are like your family, and I never felt that more than over the last 18 months.

“Promoters and venues have had the opportunity to look into their ticketing needs in far greater detail than ever before”

“Throughout it all, to see our teams come together at this time to innovate, build, and execute incredible features as well as deliver incredibly complex customer service support in such short timeframes was truly inspiring.

“It was our job to deliver the tools our clients so desperately required in this crisis – and we did just that. So much so that we’ve had an abundance of new clients come knocking who saw this work and are now turning to us in need of a reliant, industry-leading ticketing service as they navigate the return to live.”

Total Ticketing‘s Martin Haigh sees opportunity for boutique ticketing firms to gain a stronger foothold as the recovery plays out.

“We feel that promoters and venues have had the opportunity to look into their ticketing needs in far greater detail than ever before and as such are way more self-educated and open to exploring new opportunities. So, this is a good time to erode into the incumbents’ market share,” he says.

At Dice, Russ Tannen also sees opportunity. “We discovered a huge underserved live music audience living outside of major cities,” he states. But he laments that, “There isn’t enough transparency for artists in live.”

TixTrack CEO Steven Sunshine observes, “We have seen the past 18 months as a strong positive as it has made ticket sellers more interested in mobile and cloud-based solutions as well as digital ticket delivery, timed-entry ticketing, and many other features and functions that have been a part of our ticketing offering even pre-Covid.”

“We discovered a huge underserved live music audience living outside of major cities”

On a positive note, Skiddle’s head of marketing, Jamie Scahill, believes consumer confidence will not take long to rebuild. “We’ve seen a yearning by all demographics of the public to get back out and experience events and we’re confident that this demand will be set to continue as more and more people become comfortable with going out again,” he says.

“The pandemic has highlighted how good the live entertainment ticketing industry is,” states The Ticket Factory‘s Richard Howle. “Our primary concern was to do the right thing by our clients and customers and that passion to deliver great service has shone through.

“As an industry we normally only make the headlines when things go wrong and the fact that we have gone through the last 18 months with very little in the way of bad headlines, particularly when compared to other industries, such as travel, is testament to what a good job we have done.”

And looking at things from a personal point of view, AXS director of ticketing Paul Newman says, “The last 18 months have made me realise the importance of both physical and mental wellbeing, and I fully intend to carry forward the good habits I have developed in both my professional and personal life.

“Business-wise, I think that maybe the ticketing industry realises there is a stronger need to work together on finding solutions to the issues we all face.”

 


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: 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: Communication

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 consumer behaviour click here.


While IQ has been hearing tales of audience drop-off rates for rescheduled shows being as high as 40%, most of the ticketing executives in this report admitted to rates of closer to 15-20% – still a significant no-show number.

Such statistics have prompted questions over whether the communication with fans has been good enough.

Weezevent CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, admits, “We attribute [the no-shows] to the fact that many people simply forgot they had bought tickets. There were also all the effects of rescheduling or changes in programming, which made the public less enthusiastic about attending. In addition, personal circumstances may have changed, such as couples who had purchased tickets together splitting up.”

Skiddle’s head of marketing Jamie Scahill believes the numbers of people actually testing positive for Covid, or who are required to self-isolate when they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, has had a major impact on no-shows.

“As many events were rescheduled to the same time, this led to a higher drop-off rate for festivals as there was an abundance of events for customers to attend.” But Scahill claims that with the summer season now over, drop-off rates appear to be returning to pre-Covid levels of 8-15%.

“We attribute [the no-shows] to the fact that many people simply forgot they had bought tickets”

The Ticket Factory‘s Richard Howle cites different reasons. “The events with cheaper tickets have seen the highest drop-off – however, it is still early days. Once we start getting to the events that have rescheduled three or four times, we may well see a higher drop-off.”

“Good communication with fans is key,” states Howle. “We have continued our ‘Not Long Now’ email programme in the lead up to events and that seems to have been enough of a prompt to remind people that the event they booked two years ago is happening soon.”

At AXS, director of ticketing, Paul Newman, has a similar viewpoint. “The percentage of no-shows tends to be high- er on those events that have rescheduled more than once, and ticket price is a factor – i.e. the percentage of no-shows is greater on lower- vs. higher-priced events,” says Newman.

And while Benjamin Leaver says Event Genius & Festicket are recording 20-30% drop-off rates, there are positive aspects as fans return to see their favourite acts.

“It seems that people are treating themselves as they return to live events,” says CEO Leaver. “At our egPay cashless partnered events we are witnessing around a 20-30% increase in spend per head. This is a trend we are also seeing with ticket and travel package orders for international festivals in 2022 as average order values are at an all-time high.”

 


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: Demand

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.


Having been starved of live music for more than a year – and in some cases, more than two years – fans around the world are understandably craving the experience of gigs and festivals. This has manifested itself in some truly remarkable sold-out shows in the months ahead.

“Artists have been itching to get back on the road and we’re already seeing the biggest names – Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Shawn Mendes, Tool, BTS – selling like wildfire, with plenty more on the way,” says Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich.

“We’re expecting colossal things for 2022 – not only do artists and fans want to make up for lost time, but the cyclical nature of our business ensures its longevity. The pipeline will always be full – sporting seasons, theatre runs, and touring cycles will remain a constant fixture.”

Eventim’s Ruoff is a tad more circumspect. “Fortunately, demand for tickets has been rising steadily since spring, but as expected has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels,” he says. “In Germany, and Europe as a whole, we have seen great pre-sales in recent weeks for concerts by top artists.”

In France, Weezevent CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, also has encouraging news. “In the third quarter of 2021 we are above our 2019 figures, despite the fact that fewer events went on sale, due to capacity increases this year.”

“For 2022, we are expecting to see a triple effect: strong public demand, a plethora of events, increases in capacity and duration”

He continues, “Ticket prices are also changing. For 2022, we are expecting to see a triple effect: strong public demand, a plethora of events, plus increases in capacity and duration.

“All of this put together means 2022 should be a very strong year with a big rebound, especially for outdoor events, of which only the largest have taken place in France, in reduced formats, if at all. We expect shallower growth in the indoor sector, because setting up a tour is more complex than a festival.”

In Asia, Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh says, “Demand remains strong and tickets are selling very well, when events are able to happen. Customers are keen to get out and have experiences again where possible and as a result of the extremely low incidence of Covid in Hong Kong, customers are generally not concerned about the health risks of attending events.”

However, Haigh adds a weighty caveat. “The strong restrictions imposed, especially on larger events, means that volumes are still low overall – about 20-30% of previous volumes – but this represents a supply issue, not a lack of demand.”

Skiddle’s head of marketing Jamie Scahill says demand has been unprecedented. “We’ve seen a boom in consumer confidence since lockdown was lifted in the UK, and we’re confident that this trend will continue into 2022 as young people are eager to experience nightlife for the first time,” he says.

“In the first six months of this financial year, our overall sales have been down 25% on the same period in 2019”

“As a result, Skiddle has sold an extra £32m (€38m) in tickets in 2021 vs last year, a 442% increase on 2020. Skiddle’s phenomenal growth in 2021 has seen us grow 80% on its best-ever year (2019). Since Feb 2021, the majority of our tickets sold were for nightclub events (45%) with live gigs and festivals a close second (44%).”

The same isn’t true for all UK-based ticketing operations. At The Ticket Factory, Richard Howle notes, “Sales are beginning to return but still aren’t at pre-pandemic levels. In the first six months of this financial year, our overall sales have been down 25% on the same period in 2019.

“However, the on-sale patterns are still out of kilter with the norm, so it is difficult to compare like for like at the moment. Some recent on-sales have been weaker than expected, but I think that this is more likely to reflect the current economic situation rather than any Covid-related concerns.”

AXS director of ticketing Paul Newman contends, “It still needs to be decent content, but to be fair there are many top-level artists going out for the first time in a long time. So sales for the right events are very strong, which bears out the widely held view that we could be in for a bumper couple of years as long as the promoters can find space in the packed venue diaries.”

“It is no surprise that music fans cannot wait to get back out there to live events. Who can blame them?” says Benjamin Leaver, CEO, Event Genius & Festicket. “We’ve seen this play out in successful on-sales for 2022 events, such as Primavera Sound [in Spain], which sold out in just ten days, and for which we were the official payment plan provider.

“We’re also seeing fans spending more on their event trips too, resulting in a huge 172% uplift in average order value”

“We’re also seeing fans spending more on their event trips too, resulting in a huge 172% uplift in average order value for international bookings compared with pre-Covid numbers, with a similar increase also seen in domestic booking.”

He adds, “A large percentage of these are also now choosing alternative payment methods such as payment plans in order for customers to reduce their immediate costs.”

And with Covid never far from the headlines, the increase in demand is also benefitting ancillary businesses.

“We are currently seeing high attachment rates across our partner ticketing companies, venues, and events as people have a pent-up desire to book something to look forward to but at the same time have never been more aware of their risk of being unable to attend,” says TicketPlan’s CEO Ben Bray.

“This has led to higher take-up on our refund protection and insurance products as this enables ticket buyers to book in confidence knowing that if the worst happens and they are unable to attend the event, for instance if they are ill, they can request a refund via extended terms.”


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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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Bristol Ticket Shop closing after 30 years

Independent UK-based ticketing company Bristol Ticket Shop has announced it is closing down, citing overdue payments from a debtor.

Launched in 1987 as a concession in Virgin shops and then in record retailer Our Price, Bristol Ticket Shop later found its own home in the centre of the UK city of Bristol. With a focus on supporting the local music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop also sold tickets to events such as Glastonbury Festival and Download Festival.

“After more than 30 years being part of Bristol’s incredible music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop is sadly closing,” reads a post on the ticketer’s Facebook page.

“All the staff here are devastated. The list of incredible events we have supplied tickets for is overwhelming. There are so many regular customers, old and new, that we have really enjoyed talking to over the years and we will miss you all dearly.”

“After more than 30 years being part of Bristol’s incredible music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop is sadly closing”

The management team owes the closure to “news that a debtor owing a large amount of money was unlikely to be able pay in a timely manner”, as well as to the illness of the company’s owner, which has “had a large impact on the resilience of the business”.

The company states it is instructing a third party to negotiate with promoters in order to ensure that “there is as little impact to the customer as possible”. Although the ticketer aims “to honour tickets for future events”, it notes this may not always be possible, in which case refunds will be issued.

Bristol music fans have responded to the “sad news”, showing support for the ticketer, which formed a “huge part” of the local live scene.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, the primary ticketing business in the UK is “incredibly competitive”, with major international companies including Ticketmaster, See Tickets, AXS, Eventim and Eventim taking a large share of the market.

Many local independent outfits, such as Manchester’s Ticketline, Birmingham’s the Ticket Factory, Leeds’ Ticket Arena and Nottingham’s Gigantic – now majority owned by DEAG – also perform well.

 


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Noel Edwards rejoins TTF as commercial director

NEC Group’s the Ticket Factory has appointed Noel Edwards to the role of commercial director.

The hire brings Edwards, who began his career at the then NEC Box Office, back to the company after 15 years. In that time, Edwards has held roles at Songkick, ticketing platform Crowdsurge and event travel and ticketing company Kaboodle.

“I am truly thrilled to be back where it all started for me,” comments Edwards. “It feels very much like a case of returning home but naturally the business is completely unrecognisable to the one I joined as a customer service and sales representative back in 2002.

“I have some fantastic memories of my first spell with the business, including being nominated for [IQ’s] rising star New Bosses award by my peers. Helping to set up and rebrand to the Ticket Factory alongside some talented colleagues was also a highlight of my first stint, and it’s extremely satisfying to see how that brand is flourishing today.”

“I am truly thrilled to be back where it all started for me”

Richard Howle, director of ticketing at the Ticket Factory, adds: “In Noel we know we have appointed someone with vast experience in the ticketing and entertainment industries, with an already strong affinity and connection to both the Ticket Factory and NEC Group.

“It is a fantastic story to have Noel back in the fold and I’m delighted that he is joining us to help grow both our client base and wider commercial offering, shaping the Ticket Factory’s long-term strategy.”

The official box office for the NEC, Arena Birmingham and Resorts World Arena, the Ticket Factory sells around 2.5 million tickets annually and recently launched a brand-new website. According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, the Ticket Factory is one of several successful independent ticketing companies operating in the “incredibly competitive” UK primary ticketing business.

See IQ’s New Bosses 2019, this year’s selection of the industry’s brightest talent under 30, here.

 


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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.

 


Oxynade

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

Tixserve

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

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.

 

Activity Stream

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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