Delivering Trust in Ticketing (Op-Ed)
Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.” In business (to paraphrase Steve Jobs), people, companies, and industries often “don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Ticketing is no different.
We all know ticketing in the live events space is not perfect, yet we haven’t been able to articulate and implement the means of improving it.
We are all aware how things work today with ticketing and the issues that accompany it. Many ticketing systems offer features such as ticket sharing (or more accurately stated, ticket forwarding) to make the digital ticketing experience more convenient. Ticketmaster, for instance, allows purchasers to share their event tickets. However, the lack of identity and accountability in the current solutions creates massive problems for the industry at large.
How do we begin to solve this problem?
Almost all the problems in ticketing revolve around trust. Do I trust this person has a real ticket? Do I trust that the terms or conditions associated with that ticket have been adhered to? The equation is simple (though the execution is more challenging than most realise):
Trust = Identity + Accountability
Identity: who is in possession of a legitimate ticket?
Accountability: have the rules associated with that ticket been followed?
Introducing Rules-Based Ticket Sharing
If your goal is to improve trust in ticketing, you need to address and improve identity and accountability, which is what rules-based ticket sharing does. It makes the chain-of-custody of each ticket central to the solution’s DNA. It gives control back to the event organisers, allowing them to set up specific rules around the transfer of tickets after they’re sold. The terms of rules-based ticket sharing, once set by each venue, are automatically enforced from the time a ticket is issued to when it is scanned at the event. Rules may include if a ticket can be shared, if it can be reshared, and whether the original ticket purchaser must maintain a live ticket in their wallet for the event.
What is even more advantageous for event organisers is that they are getting all this information fed into their current ticketing systems in real time. No getting reports days late or having to rely on another 3rd party to process your data, not to mention the potential risks involved in a 3rd party managing some of your most sensitive data. This is truly your rules for your tickets.
These types of rules offer peace of mind for both organiser and purchaser. Just like digital music marketplaces (and later, streaming platforms) put similar protections in place and changed the digital music world, now that these guard rails have been introduced for digital ticketing, they’re here to stay.
But what do these changes mean for consumers and event organisers?
You Can Trust You’ll Get In
We’ve all been there. A band we love, a game we want to be at, or a show we want to see is coming to town. We weren’t lucky enough to get tickets when they went on sale, so we were left with searching all corners of the internet. We find tickets and the prices and fees make us think twice, but we want the experience bad enough that we click “buy” and hope that we actually bought a real ticket that will get us into the show.
Maybe it’s a Sammy Hagar show for a good friend who’s been a fan for decades. You want to surprise him and you pay six times the face value only to find out the tickets won’t get you in. This situation plays out all the time on the secondary marketplace, but once venues bring identity and accountability into the equation, they have trust in ticketing.
You Can Trust You Know Who Attended
Maybe you’re an event organiser selling out a 2,500-seat capacity hall almost every night. You average 2.5 tickets sold per order, which means you know the 1,000 ticket buyers – or about 40% of your capacity. But your ticket buyers may not be the actual people who attend your show, so your knowledge of who attends your shows is less than 40%. Maybe you are able to leverage other systems (point of sale, credit card information) to improve that number, but it is almost nowhere near your other competitors in the attention economy (such as Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Google) who know the identities of over 90% of the consumers of their services.
Imagine what knowing 90% of the actual audience would mean for you! What would that enable? What could you do differently or better? When you have the chain of custody of a ticket from sale to scan and can trust that information, it means you now know your audience and can better serve them.
You Can Trust Your Rules Are Being Followed
A common refrain of secondary market proponents is that the vast majority of tickets resold on the secondary market are sold below face value. While this may be true, it’s not the issue our clients have with the secondary market. Rather, their concern is with tickets for high-demand shows being exploited. While some may say that is reflective of market dynamics, that ignores the more mission-driven goals of some event organisers.
If the Adrienne Arsht Center deems that it should offer a portion of its tickets to a show like Hamilton at $25 per seat to accomplish their stated mission of “arts education and community engagement,” they should be able to do so. This scenario doesn’t only pertain to the arts; it’s important for sports, too. If a baseball team wants to offer $9 tickets for students to attend a rivalry game, they should be able to ensure that only the student goes, or the team can reissue the ticket.
Today’s Vision is Tomorrow’s Standard
Just like Henry Ford revolutionised an industry by offering a solution to a problem that had not yet properly formulated in the public consciousness, rules-based ticket sharing identifies and resolves very specific issues in a way that has permanently changed the course of the ticketing industry.
Without identity and accountability, ticketing loses its trust factor. With those pieces of the equation in place, consumers and venues are moving forward with confidence in the process. It’s such a groundbreaking change that the industry will never want to look back.
Matt Zarracina is co-founder and CEO of True Tickets, a B2B enterprise SaaS start-up providing secure contactless digital ticketing for live events.