TicketCo UK Country Manager, David Kenny, on how technology is stepping up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For ticket-buyers, the news that their favourite events, festivals and sporting fixtures have been postponed or cancelled has had days or even weeks to sink in. A unified response from event organisers has seen that message distributed across the country to be met by understanding audiences.
That unity has continued behind the scenes, which gives me great hope for the future of our industry. But it’s not just on the horizon that I can see chinks of light – there is so much happening right now that is encouraging for event organisers, despite the short-term challenges.
It has been a busy period at TicketCo, as we assess the situation and help our partners confront a seemingly alarming situation. What has struck me has been the speed with which event organisers have responded to their customers and the innovative thinking that has run in parallel.
Working with our partners we have been able to implement functionality for a membership scheme for venues and attractions to introduce, giving them a regular source of income and helping to solidify that bond between businesses and the patrons who love what they do. I am convinced measures like this, put in place now during these hard times, will endure long after this period of lockdown.
Using technology to deal with postponements and cancellations has also eased the operational burden on businesses. Fewer and fewer physical tickets are bought with cash these days, so most customers can be traced and contacted en masse through the electronic systems they used for the initial purchase.
Perhaps the experiences of the last few weeks will accelerate the complete move away from physical transactions in this sector, as both organisers and customers realise the benefits of a traceable digital purchase should unforeseen circumstances arise.
At TicketCo we allocated all our research and development resources to making high volume cancellations easier as Covid-19 spread through Europe. As a result, we were able to provide event organisers with an automated system to deal with mass cancellations or postponements. This system automatically contacted customers to give them three options: claim a refund, access a voucher for a re-arranged event, or forgo the credit.
The first option is self-explanatory, while option two helps the organiser’s liquidity in these difficult times yet also gives the customer something to look forward to. The third option has been the most interesting and has demonstrated the special connection event organisers have with their audiences. Those customers who appreciate and value the work of the organisers, and acknowledge the financial difficulties they must be facing, can forgo the cost of their ticket, neither claiming a refund nor a voucher. The number of customers choosing this option is testament to the great customer service that will see many event businesses successfully plot a course through these choppy waters.
With technology allowing these refunds and vouchers to processed automatically in the background, organisers are showing real determination to use this period productively. My recent conversations with event businesses across the country have revealed forward planning is now the order of the day, with this downtime enabling some organisers to pause for breath and meticulously plan how their future events can be made even better.
In fact, only this week we signed a partnership with a new event later in the year that has huge potential to make a real statement once restrictions are lifted. Times are incredibly hard in this sector, but there is a feeling that after the storm will come a huge surge in event attendance, and that’s a prospect to keep us all going.