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Passive adoption, and the landscape of ticketing in 2028

April 2018

Ian Taylor, Head of Ticketing and Data Management at bigdog Live

The way we do things has changed. And will continue to do so. Much of it is a slow process, a process of change we barely see and we are very cleverly guided, steered, even trained to do so.

There are examples all around us - in your pocket, your home and integral to your day so far and how you're reading this now.

Consider ‘The Cloud’ - a pretty big leap of faith there, so consider Apple's solution. Device not big enough? Shame. We’ll look after those pictures for you, freeing up space on your device. There's awareness that our 'allowance' of data is also currency.

Think about how you paid for your last coffee. We're all now very used to contactless payments, but it's taken years of adoption and being eased into it. This has happened through the concept of 'touch in and out' travel in London, ways of working via closed loop systems, making the step to, adoption of and trust in open loop contactless payments widespread in the UK.

Most music purchases now are digital, with TV watching and media absorption bespoke, always on, whenever, wherever and however. Convenience is everything for the 2018 consumer, it only follows that advertising moves along with this change and follows YOU, from device to website to behaviour and purchase.

Why hasn’t ticketing experienced the same curve? To an extent it has - print at home tickets and tickets on a device are now commonplace (but still rely on a visual scan) and great inventive work has been done by venues and agencies’ software teams to make digital ticket lotteries a reality.

And yet Live ticketing is often viewed as an archaic system prone to failures that the media always regard as an easy headline. Is it really that complicated to reinvent and revolutionise live event ticketing so that it works in a completely different and friction-free way; like that of media consumption, like how we pay for our groceries and how we trust other companies to store (and access?) our most cherished moments?

We asked several industry leaders how they see live event ticketing, a decade on; forget 2018, what's 2028 gonna look like?

First to offer a view was Pauline Fallowell - Head of Sales & Audience Insight at London Theatre Company - “Alexa, Siri or whatever your AI of choice is, will be able to help you find and access tickets based on the media you consume. You seem to only watch Disney movies and your birthday is coming up, so why don't you treat yourself to a ticket to The Lion King?  Or that play that you couldn't find any cheap tickets for has just released some, so why not buy them now?”

She added that “alongside this, call centres will be replaced by bots which will be able to instantly reply to all customer service enquires and even give you an upgrade, or to advise you to pre-order that interval drink as they have that wine you really like.  In summary, everything will become more personal and efficient, targeted and effective.”

This was echoed by Jonathan Brown - Chief Executive at STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers) who added that “many complaints we deal with still relate to little bits of paper being sent around the country far too close to the show. Often the aim of this is to try and prevent fraud, but also sometimes because things are done badly, or because of mistrust. We need to be better at this in 2028. By then, technology should be helping to address the issues we continue to struggle with – market pricing and resale being just two of them. It’s all down to control. We know how many improvements can be achieved, but they need to be put it into more widespread practice”

He goes on to warn however that “delivering and experiencing a live event involves human contact in a way that isn’t a part of the way we consume other goods. We may continue to get better at technology that lubricates processes to our advantage, but we must never lose sight of the more visceral needs of customers who are there for an emotional, not a functional experience.”

But Dave Wakeman - "The Revenue Architect" and Principal at Wakeman Consulting Group goes a little deeper still, saying that “the future of ticketing is going to be less about the technologies involved and more about a return to the roots of why we need tickets, to begin with. As our society continues to adopt digital tools and technology controls more of the day-to-day processes of our lives, we are going to continue to desire more opportunities to connect with people offline. This is where our entertainment will become a bigger part of our lives.

For that reason, I think that in 2028, we are going to see a much more flexible ticketing landscape. The digital tools we have available are going to make going to events easier, safer, and, hopefully, more engaging. Because I think technology is going to become better at doing some of the menial things or expected things, the next big stage in tickets will be to do the unexpected.”

He goes on to say “digital ticketing is easy and everywhere, the unexpected will be about providing you a souvenir ticket that is printed on stock with a beautiful design that commemorates some special event, evening, or show. The unexpected will be that a lot more of the marketing is relevant and personalized. I am pretty hopeful that the changes are going to make attending events better, more personal, and, for people involved in the business, more profitable.”

The one thing that unites all these interesting views is the customer being first and foremost, retaining the personal while allowing the technology to enhance (not overtake) the experience. This ensures surprise and delight but will also be secure and personal. Time as ever will tell. But we, at bigdog Live, are certainly on the same page. And if the industry is collectively on the same page, why not make this happen in five years, not ten?

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