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Ian Taylor, head of ticketing and data management at bigdog Live, talks to the ticketing industry…

Lwive ticketing is often viewed as a dated system, prone to failures that the media always regard as an easy headline. Is it really that complicated to re-invent 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?

I asked several industry leaders how they see live event ticketing, a decade on; forget 2018, what’s 2028 going to look like?

Pauline Fallowell – head of sales & audience insight at London Theatre Company. She says: “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?” 

“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 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,” he says.

“We know how many improvements can be achieved, but they need to be put it into more widespread practice”

He warns 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’ll continue to get better at technology that lubricates processes to our advantage, but don’t lose sight of the more visceral needs of customers who are there for an emotional, not a functional experience.”

Dave Wakeman. the revenue architect and principal at Wakeman Consulting Group goes deeper still, saying the future of ticketing will be less about the technologies 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,” he adds.

“For that reason, in 2028, we are going to see a much more flexible ticketing landscape. The digital tools we have available will 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 that digital ticketing is easy and everywhere, the unexpected will be about providing 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 personalised. I am hopeful 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 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?