fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

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.”

 


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: 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.”


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: Voucher schemes & refunds

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.


While the live events industry was among the first to shut up shop in the pandemic – and, of course, the last to reopen – one silver lining to that particular storm cloud was that the vast majority of fans around the world did not ask for refunds for rescheduled events.

Promoters in a number of territories also persuaded governments to allow them to implement voucher schemes, which helped retain at least some of their revenues to steer them through the crisis.

Again, though, the experience varies from country to country, and, off the record, some promoters are admitting, with hindsight, that refunds may have been the smarter move, as the costs for putting on shows in 2022 will be far higher than the ticket prices budgeted for, as they were often set in 2019, long before the pandemic closed countries down.

“In the majority of situations organisers offered refunds and around 80% of ticket sales that had been made before the pandemic were refunded,” reports Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon.

“The demand from fans has never waned. Globally, we saw 83% of fans holding onto their tickets for rescheduled shows”

“On the other hand, the organisers who did not offer a refund but proposed a postponement had only a few requests for refunds.”

He cites Hellfest as an example, where only around 100 tickets were refunded out of the tens of thousands for the sold-out festival. “This highlights how valuable these tickets are to the participants.”

Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich observes, “The demand from fans has never waned. Globally, we saw 83% of fans holding onto their tickets for rescheduled shows, showing the palpable desire from fans to get back to live at the first opportunity.”

Dice’s Russ Tannen reports similar stats. “87% of tickets for live shows that have been rescheduled or postponed until 2022 have not been returned,” he says.

“The voucher solution preserves the vital liquidity that promoters need to continue operating beyond the crisis”

“Our flexible returns and Waiting List functionality mean that on Dice fans can often get a refund any time before the gig, so many fans will hold on to their ticket in the hope that they’ll be able to make the date of the new show, if they can’t, they’ll offer it to the waiting list.”

Lauding the voucher concept, CTS Eventim‘s chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff says, “We very much welcomed the decisions in a number of European countries on voucher schemes for cultural, concert, sports and leisure events.

“It was a very important step towards preserving cultural diversity. At the same time, the voucher solution is consumer protection in its purest form because it preserves the vital liquidity that promoters need to continue operating during and beyond the coronavirus crisis.

In Germany, the voucher solution is valid until the end of this year. We have observed that many of the vouchers issued have been, and are being, used for replacement events. Therefore, the extent of the refunds is not yet foreseeable.”

“As the restrictions have continued for longer [in Hong Kong], larger numbers are now asking for refunds”

Benjamin Leaver, the newly appointed CEO of Event Genius & Festicket, comments, “We had a number of countries that initiated voucher schemes, most significantly Germany and Portugal. These vouchers were usually only valid on events by the same promoter and mostly were valid until the end of 2021, however, some are running until the 2022 rescheduled dates.”

Yovich comments, “Where voucher schemes were mandated, we implemented this quickly and effectively. However, in most markets, we offered fans cash refunds for rescheduled shows with no questions asked. While being a global business, having local presence on the ground meant that we were able to work closely with our clients to tailor refund policies in each of our markets according to the legal framework and their wishes.”

The reality in Hong Kong was somewhat different. “Customers were initially keen to hold on to tickets pending events coming back, but as the restrictions have continued for longer, larger numbers are now asking for refunds,” says  Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh.

“Whereas only around 20% were asking for refunds early in the pandemic, this has now grown to around 80%. We have not needed to implement voucher schemes, instead preferring to refund customers on-request to maintain customer confidence. This has not been the case with all ticketing companies in Hong Kong, but in general customer trust and confidence remains strong.”

“[Skiddle] has had a total of £140,000 (€166,000) claimed in booking-fee credits”

Skiddle had its own approach. “From the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we’ve had to refund a total of 165,000 tickets,” says Skiddle’s head of marketing Jamie Scahill.

“However, during the pandemic, we introduced the ticket industry’s first booking-fee credit system.

“While it remains an industry-standard among ticket companies to retain booking fees when events are cancelled or postponed in order to cover costs, during Covid-19, we rejected this practice, seeking instead to put money back into the accounts of our customers.

“Now when a customer claims a refund, Skiddle will give them the option to claim the full booking fee amount as credit, which can then be used on a future purchase, up to 12 months later. Since we started this system in 2020, we have had a total of £140,000 (€166,000) claimed in booking-fee credits.”

 


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: Staffing

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, Changing Landscape, click here.


Covid redundancies have hit the sector hard and numerous experienced employees have taken the decision to pursue other career paths rather than return to their former roles. Nonetheless, HR teams have been working overtime to ensure companies are ready to service the needs of their clients.

“While events were paused, we had a huge amount of work to do processing rescheduled shows, helping clients manage the workload, and taking care of fans,” says Mark Yovich, who presides over Ticketmaster, the world’s market-leading live entertainment ticketer.

“At the same time, [Ticketmaster’s] technology teams were able to work at an incredible pace rolling out new features almost weekly, like our Smart Queue technology that effectively manages demand for busy on-sales, which fans are loving.”

He adds, “Thankfully, we were able to take advantage of the many furlough schemes around the world and, as we return to live, our team is building back stronger than ever.”

“While events were paused, we had a huge amount of work to do processing rescheduled shows”

At Europe’s biggest ticketing company, CTS Eventim, chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff tells a similar story. “It is a principle of the company to stand by our employees, even in difficult times. At the same time, we benefitted greatly from government support programmes in various countries. [And] with the restart of business, we started hiring in key areas of the company.”

Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon reveals the rollercoaster ride the company has endured in terms of personnel. “We were around 70 [employees] in 2019, then this number dropped to around 60 during 2020, since we made the choice not to replace people who decided to leave the company,” he tells IQ.

“Then we went back up to almost 90 in 2021 with the acquisition of PlayPass, which is also a player in the event cashless industry. By 2022, we expect to be at least 125, if not more, depending on the activity and recovery in our sector.

Turning to governmental assistance, he says, “Support-wise, we benefited from […] the partial unemployment [scheme] set up by the French state, which covered part of the salaries of the teams who were not working during this period, and we supplemented their wages.”

“H.Kong’s zero Covid policy has meant we have experienced little in the way of lockdowns affecting people’s ability to work”

Furlough programmes differ massively around the world, as highlighted by Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh from his Hong Kong office. “We were able to receive a small contribution from the government towards salary costs, although this was far below what most developed countries offered through furlough and similar schemes.

“Hong Kong’s zero Covid policy has meant we have experienced little in the way of lockdowns affecting people’s ability to work, although there has been little activity in the events sector generally due to the various restrictions resulting from the zero Covid approach.”

That allowed Total Ticketing to retain its entire team from 2019 to present. “In fact, we have made some new hires over this period to support our ongoing investment in developing our suite of software and products,” says Haigh.

“This has left us in a strong position as we have retained the skills and knowledge that we have developed in our teams over the years.”

“Since lockdown lifting in 2021 and consumer confidence being at an all-time high, we are back to a period of growth”

In the UK, Skiddle’s Scahill notes the impact that lockdowns had on the business, including the closure of its Manchester office. But with the UK reopening for events, things are suddenly looking much rosier.

“The majority of our staff were on either part-time or full-time furlough during the pandemic while business was down and Skiddle claimed £430,000 [€509,000] via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, since lockdown lifting in 2021 and consumer confidence being at an all-time high, we are back to a period of growth as our team is now 65 staff members and we are now hiring at pre-Covid rates and recruiting for a number of roles.”

Indeed, that scramble to restaff is universal across the territories that are fortunate enough to be back. “We are a relatively small team in the AXS London office, the majority of which we managed to retain throughout the pandemic – albeit up to approximately 50% were furloughed at various times,” says director of ticketing Paul Newman. “Today we are back to a full complement of staff, as well as actively recruiting for a number of new roles within the business.”

Russ Tannen, president of Dice states, “By the end of the year our team will be 350 globally – and growing fast. We have headquarters in London and New York and offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, and Samara.”

 


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

International Ticketing Report 2021: Changing Landscape

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks, starting with an instalment that reflects on the changing landscape. However, subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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.

TicketSwap expands network with Portugal’s Boom

Amsterdam-based resale platform TicketSwap has announced a partnership with long-running festival, Boom.

The partnership includes integration with their ticketing company Weezevent, which allows TicketSwap to void a sold ticket and instead issue new tickets to buyers.

This Secure Swap integration ensures that fans can buy and sell quickly and easily, while providing visibility to the festival organiser.

The partnership with Boom marks TicketSwap’s first foray into Portugal and follows recent launches in Italy and Brazil.

“It’s great to have such a prominent partner for Portugal as we continue on our mission to be the experience platform that every fan loves”

“We are delighted to be working with Boom Festival,” says TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober. “The event is spectacular and people travel from all over the world to be there. We are very pleased to provide a safe and transparent way for fans to sell their tickets at a fair price.”

“TicketSwap have been expanding at a pace. We have set up an office in Brazil, launched in Italy, and we’re hiring our first local staff in the UK, Sweden, and Germany. It’s great to have such a prominent partner for Portugal as we continue on our mission to be the experience platform that every fan loves.”

The 25th edition of Boom festival will take place on 22–29th June 2022.

The event, which takes place every two years, has been ‘exceptionally popular’ on TicketSwap, with nearly 4,000 people registering for tickets and almost 500 tickets sold in the first three days.

 


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.

Cashless leaders Playpass and Weezevent merge

Leading European cashless payments companies Weezevent, based in Dijon, and Playpass, headquartered in Antwerp, have merged.

The new Playpass-Weezevent group comprises six offices with more than 100 employees and 1,200 event clients, including major festivals such as Lollapalooza (Paris, Berlin and Chile), Rock Werchter, Main Square (pictured), Hellfest, Rock en Seine and Austria’s Frequency and Nova Rock. The companies, which have a combined annual turnover of over £400 million (€466m), also provide cashless solutions for sports brands such as Formula 1, Red Bull Air Race, Paris St Germain FC, Lausanne FC and the World Darts Championship.

It is hoped that by joining forces the firms can make NFC (near-field contact) wristbands and cards as ubiquitous for payments at UK festivals as they are in continental Europe.

Post-merger, Steve Jenner of PlayPass and Olly Goddard of Weezevent jointly head up the group’s UK and Republic of Ireland division. The deal will also lead to the expansion of the companies’ offices in Paris, Madrid, Antwerp, Lausanne and Montreal and their in-house development staff.

Paying tribute to Playpass co-founders David De Wever and Dale Hofkens, Weezevent’s CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, says: “David, Dale and their teams share the same passion and vision as Weezevent for delivering a world-class cashless experience, and after eight years of healthy competition the time has come to form a new team that is stronger, more ambitious and more confident than ever.”

“The return to a normal post-Covid situation will accelerate the adoption of cashless everywhere. This is about being ready”

De Wever adds: “Our two companies are highly complementary and the consolidation of our expertise and experience now makes it possible to form the leader in cashless event solutions. The return to a normal post-Covid situation will accelerate the adoption of cashless everywhere. This is about being ready for the market while continuing to innovate.”

Last year, says Goddard, “promised a much wider adoption of cashless technology at events before our industry was put into lockdown. Though this natural progression was interrupted, we are looking forward to a productive 2021 and beyond, and our merger with PlayPass will put us in an even stronger position to deliver what consumers want and events need.”

British festivals planning their return this summer using the group’s cashless technology include Standon Calling, 2000 Trees, Black Deer, ArcTanGent, Lakefest, Neverworld and the inaugural UnLocked Festival.

“As a competitor we have always held the utmost respect for Weezevent, in particular the strength of their technology, team and commitment to improving the visitor experience,” adds Jenner. “To join forces with them at this time is a really exciting opportunity for us, our clients and the UK’s live events industry, placing us in a much stronger position to not only help the sector get back on its feet faster, but to emerge stronger than ever.”

 


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.

Alexandra Palace darts goes cashless with Weezevent

The World Darts Championship returns to Alexandra Palace in London this December, with all payments cashless for the first time in the event’s history thanks to a partnership with Weezevent.

All bars, food and merchandise outlets at the three-week sporting event will be using a cashless payment system powered by Weezevent. The system, which cuts out the need for cash and provides event organisers with visitor and sales data, debuted in the UK festival market at Standon Calling in 2019.

Moving on from the previous paper-based token system, the 85,000 attendees at the World Darts Championship will be able to top up in advance or on site, and make payments using souvenir NFC cards at Weezevent point-of-sale devices.

These cards can be used on repeat visits to the darts series, which runs from 13 December to 1 January, benefitting fans who attend more than once during the darts’ three-week residency at the 10,000-plus-cap. Ally Pally (pictured).

“The benefits to customers will be instantly obvious, with fewer queues at the bars and speedy transactions”

Olly Goddard, UK country manager for Weezevent, says: “Alexandra Palace is one of the most iconic venues in London and we are very much looking forward to bringing our cashless system here through our partnership with the World Darts Championship. The benefits to customers will be instantly obvious, with fewer queues at the bars and speedy transactions.

“Importantly, it will now be a much simpler process to get refunds back from the cards should there be any pre-paid amount left once the darts has finished. Previously, guests would have to send back the paper tokens; with the Weezevent system all refunds are processed online immediately after the event ends. ”

Matt Porter, chief executive of the Professional Darts Corporation, the Worlds Darts Championship organiser, adds: “ I used the Weezevent system at Standon Calling and saw how easy it was to use. Providing a cashless solution to our fans is an important step to improving their experience at the World Darts Championship. As an organisation, we are always looking at ways to improve our offering and with Weezevent we have partnered with a proven and reliable system.”

 


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.