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Ticketing: You’ve Come A long Way Baby

Chris Dill's picture

Ticketing has changed in many ways over the years; there has been consolidation, rising ticket prices and many technological advances. There are now more viable choices to those selling tickets in the sports and entertainment world when it comes to picking a ticketing partner. The growth of business in the ticketing world has not only helped create a competitive environment for those choosing a ticketing system or renewing a contract. It has also driven the ticketing companies to spend capital on improving the ticketing platforms. This completive business environment has allowed those selling the tickets to have access to more technology as an assist to generating and managing those sales. The advances in ticketing platforms have provided more choices to ticket buyers including ease of purchasing, forwarding, reselling and many other benefits, making it a better overall experience those purchasers.

You do not need to go back that many years to a time when consumers would have purchased tickets at outlets or on phones with long wait times for popular on-sale events. Technological advances have allowed features like the shopping carts, electronic seat views, upselling, merchandise sales, pre-paid parking and secondary ticketing offers to positively affect the consumer experience. Behind the ticketing curtain you have technological changes in how you can manage the selling process via better data access and management allowing real-time reports and analytics.

Many ticketing systems now have built in CRM capabilities to manage sales and customer service, a key part of repeat business and retention when it comes to season ticket holders. Today, better data analysis has created a common practice of variable pricing and yield management, the on the fly capability to set ticket prices based on demand. So many advances have taken place and we are just seeing the start of some good examples where social media come in to play in the world of ticketing.

Stepping back in time to the 1960’s we had Ticket Reservations Systems, which in 1969 changed its name to Ticketron. This particular ticketing company was owned by computer maker Control Data from 1968 until 1990, when it was purchased by Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster was founded in 1976 and is considered the giant of the industry, having continuous growth and a major merger with Live Nation in 2010. The competition for ticketing contracts has helped give venues more choices when going out to RFP and selecting a ticketing partner.

The ticketing business is strong. There has been a very fast rise in the price of tickets over the past 2 decades, meaning the potential revenue has grown at a rapid pace. We have certainly come a long way when you look at Ticketmaster’s size, as well as the growth of companies like Paciolan, New Era Tickets,, ASX, Audience View, Veritix and many more. There are, and will continue to be, lots of small regional and specialized ticketing companies that serve the small venues and niche markets around the world.

One of the biggest changes in the world of ticketing driven by technology is the secondary market place. This space has seen exponential growth in the past 10 years. Stubhub founded in 2000, now an Ebay company acquired in 2007, holds the major market share and really opened up the industry’s eyes to this marketplace. Again, in this space there are lots of other players like Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange, Razorgator and many others. There is also a whole other group that helps move primary and secondary inventory in various promotions including Scorebig, Crowdseats, and many others. Seems like every day there are more companies trying to get a piece of the very large primary and secondary ticketing pie.

The advancement of ticketing technologies, which has allowed a more sophisticated use of data, shows up in the venues around the country in many ways. Below is a current example in college sports where the ticketing system and the technology advancements are helping to drive the bottom line.

In Tempe, Arizona at Arizona State University (ASU), technology is helping grow attendance and revenue at the colleges sporting events. Steve Hank, the Associate Athletic Director of Revenue at ASU, has partnered with Paciolan Ticketing and SSB Ticketing Intelligence in those efforts. Steve is leading an extensive effort that centers on a data warehouse that consolidates data from ticketing, concessions, merchandise and many other sources of data. They are using a digital dashboard to watch key performance indicators (KPI’s) to manage all the processes around pricing, marketing, selling, managing, and making sure customers get access to those sporting events. Steve’s definition of the ASU effort is: Ticketing Intelligence is a sophisticated business intelligence data and reporting system that provides easy to understand, actionable real-time information that enables fast and profitable decision making. Using all of the tools in place Steve recently yielded $100k of additional revenue for a football game by having access to the digital dashboards and the ability to changed ticket prices on the fly based on a high demand.

Consumers today can sit at their computers, tablets and smartphones with the ability to shop for tickets for events locally or across the country right up to event time. Of course, the consumer can still walk up to an event about to begin and buy tickets on the street from the scalpers, but they have so many other choices in today’s marketplace. It is unlikely that a ticket buyer would line up at a box office window and wait in line to get tickets for an on-sale when they can go online for on-sales and purchase tickets and get a location that is distributed by the automated ticketing selection process. In addition, they now know they can resell those tickets online and buy a more preferred seat location or wait and just make that seat selection choice on the secondary market. And isn’t that what we are all after? We want to see our live entertainment in our seat of choice for that experience.

Going out for a great live experience is the goal, and the ticket is just a means for entry. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to make it happen. The choices have come a long way indeed. And technology continues to enhance those choices, whether for those who work on the selling end of the business or those on the buying end. Ticketing technology has come a long way, yet you can be sure that this trend will continue going forward.

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