Leadership / 01.14.19
11 Ticketing Industry Trends: What to Expect in 2019
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Change and progress are today’s only constants in entertainment ticketing. The industry is in a state of flux, evolution and anticipation. It’s an exciting time as the coming changes get set to re-energize us and realign things for the future.
Among the most profound changes in the past year, we’ve seen new technologies for entry, security and ticketless entry as well as escalating dialogues around blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Yet, at the same time, we remain reactionary to a large extent — and other businesses and industries are leading the way for us.
But the good news is we are also on the verge of so much more.
As we approach the 40th INTIX Annual Conference & Exhibition, we asked industry and membership thought leaders what they see coming in 2019 for the ticketing industry.
Here are 11 predictions for the biggest game-changers in the coming year.
- Continued Spotlight on the Secondary Market
From the blending of primary and secondary markets to changing legislation and retaining season ticket holders, many INTIX members pointed to this area as one to watch.
“Many of the big players (AXS, Ticketmaster, Ticketek) are combining primary and secondary sales channels to give organizers and customers a better experience,” said Martin Gammeltoft, VP of Commercial Operations for Activity Stream. “With more transparency comes new challenges, so I think the industry will see a lot of trial-and-error this year.”
Technology and legislation impacting secondary ticketing are also top of mind for Autumn Kiser, VP of Ticket Sales and Marketing for Playhouse Square. “In 2019, I see the ticketing industry continuing to grapple with the challenges of the secondary market and how to invest enough in core technologies to keep up. The overseas markets are being aggressive by passing legislation which protects the consumer and the venue — hopefully the ticketing industry can find ways to collaborate with lawmakers to create real change,” she says.
Indeed, the past few years have seen the rollout of legislation in many parts of the world with the aim of curbing ticket touts, including the Ticket Sales Act in Ontario last year, notes Aubrey Stork, Program Director, CRM, Data Insights and Ecommerce for Mirvish Productions.
“I believe that 2019 will bring a tighter turn into technology aimed at combating the inherent problems that come with the resale of tickets,” says Stork. “While things like paperless ticketing have become more prevalent, I believe it’s the melding of paperless, pricing, blockchain, and dynamic (geo and time-based) barcodes or NFC (Near-field Communication) that will have us turn a corner on this aspect of ticketing.”
Steve Machin, Global Director of Ticketing Strategy and Innovation for FanDragon Technologies agrees that the secondary market will continue to be subjected to increasing regulation around the world.
“In markets with fewer legislative restrictions, rights holders are looking at the best ways to optimize resale channels,” he says. “This will create additional demand for solutions that can enforce rules around the transfer of tickets, and that can empower tickets themselves to be smart or dynamic.”
“The secondary market is critical to our season ticket holder retention so we pay close attention to what is happening in that space,” says Russ Stanley, SVP of Ticket Sales and Services for the San Francisco Giants. “There have been a lot of teams moving towards consolidating ticket brokers into three to five partners. There are so many different models from blending primary and secondary, to teams doing it themselves. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out.”
- BlockchainAs INTIX CEO Maureen Andersen said in a recent article, blockchain is real and “it’s about to have an impact on everything we do.” Everybody is talking about it and wondering how it will impact ticketing.
Originally developed for the digital currency Bitcoin, blockchain technology is a vast public decentralized ledger — or massive shared database — that records and stores transactions in a robust, secure and transparent manner. The blockchain cannot be controlled by a single entity and is uneditable. “BlockChain continues to make waves,” says Rob Williams, VP of Product Management for AudienceView. “With Ticketmaster’s recent acquisition of Upgraded, a blockchain ticket solution, and some new players on the block (no pun intended), this could also be the year we see some traction there.”
The 5 Basics of Blockchain for Ticketing Professionals
- RFID to Improve the Event Experience
Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, continues to emerge as a technology that can transform every aspect of the customer experience.
“I think we’ll see a surge in the use of RFID-enabled badges and wristbands,” says Jason Mastrine, VP of Strategic Partnerships for Patron Technology. “Once used solely for basic access control, RFID credentials are becoming a key tool in creating frictionless fan and staff experiences, when combined with personalized mobile content management systems and tools such as A/R, photo marketing, gamification, and cashless payments.”
Suggested Reading: Using RFID to Improve the Customer Experience and Generate Revenue
- Artificial IntelligenceAudienceView’s Rob Williams predicts we will be blown away by the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our industry — and across multiple areas of our industry.
“Any month now we’re going to start to see start-ups, and big players, touting the next generation of recommendation systems, dynamic pricing engines, website personalization, all driven by complex, impressive machine learning algorithms that create a real step change from those that came before,” says Williams.
“Aside from the secondary market disruptions, I think [the most exciting potential development is] the advance of AI as a supporting technology at scale. Ticketing is a very digital business and the potential for creating value is extraordinary,” says Activity Stream’s Martin Gammeltoft.
- Marching Toward Mobile-Only Ticketing“We will see an accelerated adoption of sophisticated mobile tickets,” says FanDragon’s Steve Machin. “Thanks to a range of technologies, paper tickets and will call will rapidly become a thing of the past, other than a small number of very specific use cases.” The NFL is tackling this trend head on with a league-wide push that requires all teams to offer digital tickets by the 2019-2020 season. Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants are pitching it to their fans too.
“Our business is always evolving. You have to stay on your toes and be looking for new opportunities. In our case we are moving toward an all-mobile ticket program, says the Giants’ Russ Stanley. “Not new to the industry but new for the San Francisco Giants. This involves many moving parts. It’s a team effort but will provide ease for our fans to distribute tickets and make entering the ballpark faster.”
AudienceView’s Rob Williams agrees that mobile ticketing is becoming established across the industry. “With Google jumping on board last year, I think 2019 could be a landmark year for mobile tickets. Apple has now opened up access to the iPhone’s RFID functionality to developers so a true tap-to-enter ticketing solution is just around the corner,” he says.
Suggested Reading: The Baltimore Ravens Talk Transition to Mobile-Only Ticketing
- Eliminating Anonymous Attendees
The future of ticketing is going to be around identity,” says Dee Dee Naff, General Manager for Smith’s Tix. “For the safety of our guests, employees and the acts in our venues we need to know who is coming into our facilities. Venues should be treated like a giant airplane! The secondary market needs to find a solution that allows the venue to have that information. Second to security is the marketing. If we know who is in our venue we can reach out and reward or customize an experience for that buyer.” Mirvish Productions’ Aubrey Stork is excited by the prospect of learning “who the other more-than-half of our customers are” and says technological advancements can allow us to know every time a ticket changes hands and with it, who the current ticket holder is.
“With the proper incentives in place, we can use this same technology to encourage ticket-buyers to distribute tickets to their companions, effectively closing the loop on a segment of our audience who until this point have been anonymous. The subsequent ability to speak directly with all of our patrons introduces incredible opportunity,” says Stork.
FanDragon’s Steve Machin believes both sophisticated mobile tickets and increasing secondary market regulation will expedite the move towards de-anonymized tickets.
“We will see a welcome shift towards the growth of Unique Individual (UI) tickets and Known Individual (KI) tickets,” he says. “This will power an explosion in the value of data services as a wealth of meta-information, making business insights available in a non-invasive and secure way.”
Suggested Reading: We Are Sold Out, Now What?
- Continued Focus on Data
Jack Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Tessitura Network, expects we will see a continued focus on data as well as a hunger for better ways to analyze data on consumers and their behaviors.
“In the past, the focus has been on getting all the data that we can. In 2019 and beyond, getting data is usually not a problem. It’s figuring out what the data means to us and making decisions based on it. So, we need to be asking better questions of our data,” says Rubin. “We also need to continue to be extremely consumer-centric [with regards to] the web user experience, make it easy on people to buy, don’t scare them away with high fees, and offer them choices that would be relevant to what they are interested in [instead of] just broadcasting all sorts of events.”
- Wider Distribution“Distribution is becoming a bigger and bigger play. As our industry matures, adopts more open APIs and drives steadily towards levels of standardization, the concept of multitudes of connected distribution channels and aggregator platforms becomes more and more achievable,” says AudienceView’s Rob Williams. “Consolidation of the market is unavoidable. Maybe this won’t hit big in 2019, but any year now we should see a step change towards a more consolidated core market of ticketing platforms with a larger number of simple-to-set-up, API-connected distribution channels.”
Will Quekett, Council Member, Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), agrees that wider distribution is coming. In 2019, he expects we will see “increasing use of API integration between ticket agents and venue ticketing systems to facilitate ticket distribution through extensive agency networks.”
- Third-Party IntegrationsTechnology like APIs and integrations can enable much more than wider distribution of tickets, creating incredible advancements for entertainment consumers.
“The most exciting development is how third-party tools are being integrated into existing systems. This allows each venue to select the tool that best fits their needs and volume while also giving the ticket buyer the ultimate in convenience with features like Apple Wallet, ticket transfer and loaded values for merchandise and concessions,” says Playhouse Square’s Autumn Kiser.
Suggested Reading: The New, 21st Century Way of Buying Tickets
- Evolving Customer Relationships
I’m calling 2019 the year of the customer…and I think we’ll start to see that the way we deal with customers will change,” says Jonathan Boulter, Associate Director of Patron Services for the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.
“It’s no secret that it’s almost impossible to sell tickets by cold calls anymore, so I think we’ll look to other pipelines to have conversations with our customers and prospects. As mobile technology is being used more and more for access control, I think we will start focusing on that for talking with customers. I see a ticket office employee answering customer texts or using a messenger application during a load-in for an event, offering an upgrade to a customer, or even fixing an issue without ever being face to face,” he says. Boulter is excited to see what this means for the physical ticket office — and for ticket sellers focusing on service instead of selling. “Can we start to get away from the ticket office windows and the old speakers that create a barrier between our guests and open up more ticket counters and ticket lobbies, where our employees are able to have more direct contact with the customer? Since the technology is taking the customer away from having to purchase tickets in person, this may allow the interactions to be more about the upgrades or fixing issues in a more pleasant space.”
Suggested Reading: 10 Skills and Priorities to Achieve Service Excellence
- Training the Next GenerationWithout ticketing industry professionals, there would be no show, game or event. The artist or team can show up, but without an audience, there is nobody to watch the event and no revenues to support it.
“From the UK point of view, [the most exciting development for 2019] is the roll out of the STAR ticketing training program, which is the first such program anywhere as far as we know, says STAR’s Will Quekett. “Congratulations to Ticketmaster, the Ticket Factory and the Royal Shakespeare Company, which recruited ticketing apprentices last year. This initiative reflects the need for well-trained people to work in the ever more complex ticketing industry.”
Suggested Reading: The Next-Generation Ticket Office
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Access wants to hear from you. Are there other trends that will emerge in 2019? Let us know at [email protected].