The ticketing sector saw an average drop in turnover of 85% in 2020 and 58% in 2021 compared to 2019, according to a report commissioned by STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers).

The report on how the ticketing industry fared during the Covid-19 pandemic was created by Will Quekett, who interviewed 39 stakeholders from across the ticketing and events industry between January to March 2022.

It found that the sale of ticket protection products grew during the pandemic as customers sought to protect their purchases. Ticket protection companies reported a 300% increase in conversion at the peak of the pandemic. This figure has now stabilised at 200% up on the pre-pandemic conversion rate.

The report surmised that ticketing company staff showed tremendous commitment and worked heroically through the pandemic, but employers now faced difficulties recruiting staff. It also found that disputes through STAR rose were up 39% in 2020 and 73% in 2021 compared to 2019.

The report includes recommendations for consideration by stakeholders across the live events industries, including:

  • Greater consistency of ticketing policies, including the refunding of booking and transaction fees for cancelled events.
  • Common technical standards for e-tickets and access control.
  • Review practices regarding advance ticket sales income to help ensure that all sales channels can refund customers promptly and efficiently if required.
  • Develop improved customer service for ticket buyers through the introduction of technologies such as online self-service and chatbots to deal with common questions.

STAR said it will consider extending its Code of Practice to include standards of service and information for ticket protection, and to take on a more proactive role in relation to common industry practice.

STAR CEO Jonathan Brown said, “As the pandemic hit, overnight the ticketing industry went into crisis mode as it sought to support venues, event organisers and millions of ticket buyers. It was a truly remarkable effort that the whole industry should be proud of. However, there are always lessons to be learned as to how we can do things better and we hope that this report has been helpful in revealing the starting points for cross-industry discussions about improvements that can be made in the future”.

Report author Will Quekett said, “It was heartening to hear the praise for hard-working ticketing staff across the country, however, it is clear that there is room for improvement and clarity about how the ticketing and events industry operates to ensure that the public can continue to buy tickets with confidence”.

STAR chair Andrew Sharp said, “This report highlights how the customer-first approach adopted by our members helped them avoid many of the consumer issues and controversies that other sectors faced during the pandemic. STAR will use this report to lead the conversation within the live events industry to ensure that this work continues.”