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.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of ITY 2019, or subscribe to the magazine here
Tixserve partners with leading indie Tickets.ie
Paperless ticket fulfilment platform Tixserve has collaborated with Irish ticket provider tickets.ie to power the company’s mobile ticket service.
The Republic of Ireland’s largest independent ticket provider, tickets.ie processes 2.7 million tickets a year, including for some of the country’s biggest stadium events. The company’s main sales come from the website, which garners 9.1m impressions annually, and its 370 retail outlets dotted around Ireland.
The partnership between the two companies will allow tickets.ie customers to utilise the branded and content-rich digital ticket that is sent straight to their mobile device.
“It’s great to be able to partner with such a dynamic company”
Tixserve’s service incorporates its ‘track-and-trace’ technology to help combat ticket fraud, creating a secure and hassle-free experience for the customer without the postage, packaging and production costs of using paper tickets. The service also helps to control the bulk-buying of tickets for resale – currently a hot-button issue in Ireland.
Commenting on the partnership, Tixserve’s MD, Patrick Kirby, says: “It’s great to be able to partner with such a dynamic company that has strong footholds across the Irish live entertainment industries.”
Tixserve recently appointed Tim Chambers, formerly a Live Nation/Ticketmaster exec and now an independent consultant, as a board member.
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Irish biz divided on secondary ticket regulation
Concert promoters, ticket agents, lawyers and sporting organisations are divided as to the need for regulation of secondary ticketing in the Republic of Ireland, as MPs debated a new bill aimed at capping resale prices at 10% above face value.
Maurice Quinlivan, the TD (teachta dála) for Limerick City, yesterday evening presented his Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2017, which would make it an offence to “sell or offer for sale a ticket for a designated event at a price greater than 10% above the face value of the ticket”, for its second reading in the lower house of Irish parliament, the Dáil Éireann. Quinlivan’s bill follows a similar piece of proposed legislation by Noel Rock TD, which was rejected by the Dáil in January in favour of a period of consultation with leading Irish music industry stakeholders.
While Quinlivan’s bill won some support, mostly from his own Sinn Fein party – Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe spoke of the need to “tackle the ticket rip-off chancers”, while Martin Kenny TD suggested that “everyone agrees there is a major problem here” – an amendment by government minister Sean Kyne delayed the process of the bill by nine months to allow for further scrutiny.
Quinlivan this morning criticised “the government’s 11th-hour attempt to kick this legislation down the road for nine months”, claiming the bill was sabotaged by an allegedly bitter Rock.
“It has become clear that Noel Rock TD – who drafted a similar, but flawed, bill on the issue which has not moved from first stage – was upset with the decision that the government was to facilitate this Sinn Fein bill to address ticket touting,” he said, “and so an amendment was aimed at appeasing him and delaying the progress of my bill.
“It’s worth noting that Deputy Rock has gone out of his way to try and discredit the legislation over the past couple of days in the media, yet he made no personal contribution to the debate on the matter last night.”
“Where artists want to limit or mitigate resale, we provide comprehensive tools to achieve that”
The latest round of parliamentary debate comes after the conclusion of a public consultation on ticket touting by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Those who responded included promoter Aiken Promotions; consumer groups ECC Ireland and the Consumers’ Association of Ireland; sports governing bodies GAA, FAI and IRFU; primary ticket agencies Ticketmaster Ireland and Tickets.ie; and several secondary sites, including StubHub, Seatwave and Viagogo.
Aiken Promotions MD Peter Aiken proved the most vocal in his support for new regulation, stating he “would like to see the resale of tickets by third parties criminalised”. “This,” he said, “would give the public the opportunity to purchase a ticket on a fair and equal footing for all.”
That view, predictably, is not one shared by Ticketmaster (which owns Seatwave) or the secondary ticketing sites. In its submission, Ticketmaster criticised the “media frenzy around ticket resale”, which has, it said, “only served to confuse the public and sensationalise the issue. Our data shows that less than 1% of the tickets that Ticketmaster Ireland sells on behalf of its clients are subsequently resold – a vastly different story to what is told in the Irish press.”
The answer, said Ticketmaster, lies not in legislation – which would “simply push the market underground or offshore” – but “in technology, and where artists want to limit or mitigate resale, we provide comprehensive tools to achieve that.” (Recent examples include Iron Maiden’s use of paperless and named tickets and its Verified Fan tech, as deployed for Linkin Park’s One More Light tour.)
Aiken’s position is backed by both the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), which says it “would be helpful for legislation […] to combat the sale of tickets by persons who purchase tickets with no intention of ever attending the event, but who resell the tickets at a significant profit”, and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), which states “touting in its various forms should be classified as a criminal activity”.
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), declined to pick a side but said it would “welcome the opportunity to enter into a further comprehensive consultation process”.
Despite its recent hiring of 20 people to battle ticket bots, Tickets.ie said the “presence of a secondary market is not detrimental in our view” – although it took a swipe at Ticketmaster by stating its belief that “the transparency of that market is a concern, […] and the vertically integrated nature of the largest promoter with the largest primary ticket agent, the largest secondary ticket agent and the largest venue owner does create an environment in which the smaller promoters and the consumer can be taken advantage of.”
“We would like to see the resale of tickets by third parties criminalised”
“We believe that the best means to protect the consumer is to properly enforce the existing consumer protection and competition laws,” said Tickets.ie CEO John O’Neill, “as opposed to the introduction of new legislation that will have limited impact in practice, be difficult to enforce and will ultimately raise costs for consumers and potentially reduce the number of live events in Ireland.”
Meanwhile, Tixserve – the mobile white-label ticketing platform launched at Omeara in February – said “the jury is out” on the effectiveness of legislation, instead highlighting the importance of ‘track and trace’ paperless technology to combat illicit electronic ticket sale.
Mary Mitchell O’Connor, minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, says her department will now consider the responses before deciding on its position “on a complex issue with a number of different dimensions”.
“I would like to thank the individuals, sporting organisations, promoters, primary and secondary ticketing service providers and others who took the time and trouble to respond to the consultation,” she comments. “Their responses contain a considerable amount of interesting and informative material about the organisation of major entertainment and sporting events and the operation of the primary and secondary markets for such events. They cover a range of different views on the matters at issue and put forward a range of different, and in some cases, conflicting solutions as to what might be done to help ensure that ticket markets would work better for music and sports fans in the future.
“I would encourage everyone with an interest in the issue to read and reflect on the responses to the consultation. Before decisions are taken on a complex issue with a number of different dimensions, it is important that we have the fullest possible understanding of the issues and interests at stake and the widest possible debate on the policy measures that should be adopted.”
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