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Festicket names CEO ahead of “major growth drive”

Benjamin Leaver has been named CEO of festival discovery and booking platform Festicket and its subsidiary Event Genius.

Leaver has been a non-executive board member of the company since 2018 and also has wide-ranging experience in technology businesses across multiple sectors.

He was formerly COO of Treatwell, the largest beauty website in Europe which in 2015 was acquired for more than $200 million.

As a result of Leaver’s appointment, Festicket co-founder and CEO Zack Sabban assumes the role of president.

In the new role, Sabban will focus on strategic relationships with partners and clients, driving accelerated global growth and capitalising on-demand around the world.

“During the next phase of our development, I want to drive our global growth”

Today’s news follows the appointment of Brian Walker as chief technology officer, and the promotion of Event Genius and Ticket Arena founder Reshad Hossenally to chief operating officer, as the business focuses on a global rollout of its end-to-end Event Genius technology.

Sabban says: “I am immensely proud of how much we have achieved since we started Festicket a decade ago. During the next phase of our development, I want to drive our global growth and take our services to thousands more event creators around the world.

“I am delighted that Benjamin has agreed to lead the business as it seeks to empower event creators everywhere to grow profitably and sustainably as they deliver incredible experiences to people all over the world.”

Leaver adds: “We have an amazing team with an incredible knowledge of what makes live events successful. The coming months and into next year will be one of the most important in the history of the industry.”

“The coming months and into next year will be one of the most important in the history of the industry”

Leading promoter and Festicket senior advisor Harvey Goldsmith comments: “Under Benjamin’s leadership and with an exceptional senior team in place, Festicket can continue to grow as the live events market explodes into 2022.

“When fans attend a show, they want a seamless experience from the moment they leave their homes. Post pandemic the adoption of technology, such as cashless, a core part of Festicket’s offering to its event partners, has become even more vital.”

Founded in 2012 by Sabban and Jonathan Youne, Festicket is the world’s largest platform for discovering and booking festival trips.

In 2019, the company completed the acquisition of Event Genius, and the associated Ticket Arena consumer website and brand.

Event Genius is a UK-based ticketing, access control and cashless POS platform servicing events across the globe.


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A year in the life: Festicket Q&A

As the 2010s draw to a close the music industry landscape has morphed significantly with advancements in technology and the changing aspirations of the millennial generation.

Physical sales have fallen away to be replaced by streaming services and music is more accessible than ever before. Fans’ tastes have diversified, artists have hit the road more and the advent of music tourism resulted in an appetite for a superior method of discovering and booking experiences.

But where should music fans turn when seeking an experience which is new, meets their taste and enforces their own sense of identity? Founders Zack Sabban and Jonathan Younes created Festicket to do just this, and in 2019 the company took its greatest strides to date.

IQ catches up with CEO, Zack Sabban, to find out more about its defining year…


IQ: Discoverability of events is key to the live events market succeeding. With huge volumes of tickets going unsold each year, what did you do in 2019 to improve users’ ability to discover new events?

Zack Sabban: Our dedication to discoverability is epitomised by the fact that 68% of Festicket customers are attending a festival for the first time. We want our customers to feel empowered and informed. The internet has brought about some amazing things, but it has also created an information overload.

Festicket now boasts the most comprehensive festival discovery platform in the ticketing industry. We have 75k+ artist pages with biographies and tour dates and over 16k festival guides featuring lineups, photos, video footage, FAQs and more. Our approach to high quality content has seen our online magazine grow to become the world’s biggest festival publication with 99m unique visits in 2019.

Last year we also wanted to pay attention to how our customers consume music and use this to help them discover festivals. Everybody saw Spotify’s End of the Decade listening stats all over social media in December, and that really underscores people’s love of sharing and discovering new music through streaming. Fans can now link their Spotify accounts to Festicket, which in turn matches their tastes in artists with festival suggestions around the globe. To date, our Festival Finder has been used more than two million times and that’s something we’re very proud of.

Beyond discovery. What makes Festicket a different proposition to other ticketing platforms?

Festicket fans

In short, our global approach to music tourism. More than 40% of our orders are international and we pride ourselves on offering a wealth of choice above and beyond standard ticket options, simplifying the logistics of travel and accommodation for our customers from around the world, whilst in turn giving an average uplift in revenues for organisers of 15%.

We now operate from 7 international offices worldwide, and Festicket is available in more than 25 countries. Fans can browse in 8 different languages, pay in 41 different currencies and with 29 different payment methods. We’re really trying to connect all the dots of the global festival and live event network.

With more than 2,500 music festival partners worldwide, including the likes of Coachella, Mad Cool, Rock In Rio and BST Hyde Park, and 5,000 travel and accommodation partners, we can offer fans a truly holistic and international experience.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to understand how fans book festival experiences”

In the past year are there any specific initiatives you’ve launched to further add to this offering?
We’ve gone to great lengths to understand how fans book festival experiences and the challenges they meet in getting there. Something that came up time and again was the financial burden of group bookings. Friends love to discover, book and attend festivals in groups, but more often than not the responsibility of booking tickets fell on one member of the group who was then required to pay the full value for everyone’s tickets and recoup the cost later. We developed Pay with Friends to meet this problem.

Pay with Friends

Using this feature, one person can book for the whole group and pay only their share. Once the booking is made, a secure link is sent to each remaining member of the group to pay their balance. Tickets are held for 48 hours to allow everyone the time to make their payment. This feature has also been popular with fans, with 12,000 travellers making their payments this way in the first couple of weeks after release.

Last August Festicket acquired Event Genius and Ticket Arena. How has the deal changed the Festicket offering?

Our new venture – Event Genius by Festicket – revolutionises our offering to both customers and promoters by combining tech and expertise across ticketing, accommodation, travel and packages, a strong in-house team of marketing specialists, data insights and analytics, access control, POS and cashless payment services, fan engagement tools and more to create the most complete end-to-end offering in live events.

Event Genius by Festicket

We brought everything the two businesses were doing so well separately under one roof to ensure the best possible value add for organisers and this is something we’re really excited about going into 2020.

2019 for instance saw lots of growth for our multi-award winning cashless solution – Event Genius Pay – with over 50 events delivered, more than a million transactions completed and an average uplift in revenues of +25% for organisers. Our team of operational experts are set to be very busy in 2020 with a raft of new clients set to enjoy Event Genius Pay and all its benefits for the first time.

Best of all has been the response we’ve had from the industry to our new offering. We’ve signed over 50 primary ticketing deals since the acquisition in August with the likes of Afro Nation (Portugal), Southport Weekender (UK), Rolling Loud (Europe) and American Tours Festival (France) as well as being nominated for the Golden Ticket at the ILMC Arthur Awards 2020. To have such well esteemed promoters and organisations putting their faith in us and our vision is incredible.

Things show no sign of letting up in 2020 and we can’t wait!


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Coachella partners up with Festicket

Festival travel platform Festicket has teamed up with Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to become the Californian festival’s exclusive UK and Europe ticketing partner.

Festicket will provide extra local booking services, support across eight languages and additional currency options, as well as promotion a range of ticket packages.

Tickets for the 2020 edition of Coachella, went on advance sale on Friday 14 June, with Festicket packages selling so far to fans in 49 different countries worldwide.

Festicket chief executive co-founder and chief executive, Zack Sabban, says it is “amazing” to extend the platform’s relationship with Coachella and promoter Goldenvoice. Sabban founded Festicket in 2012, when planning a trip to the Californian festival.

“We created Festicket to help people plan their trips to destination festivals exactly like Coachella,” comments Sabban.

“We created Festicket to help people plan their trips to destination festivals exactly like Coachella”

“Our work so far with Coachella has had an amazing response from our international community of festival fans. Now we’ll be focusing on making the experience the best it can be for every fan – from discovery, to booking, to accommodation, to the event itself.”

Festicket has raised overUS$30 million in funds, most recently receiving $4.6m from creative industries investment specialist, Edge.

Coachella 2019, which took place at the Empire Polo Club in southern California, saw headline performance from Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande.

The 2020 edition will take place across two consecutive weekends from 10 to 12 and 17 to 19 April.


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