Rob Williams (director of technology and innovation, The Ticket Factory), Jason Thomas (CCO, Ticketscript) and Ben Sebborn (owner, Skiddle) talk to Access, in a frank discussion about the pros and cons of new technology

ticketingHow is new technology changing the ticketing industry?

Rob Williams: Ironically, it might actually remove physical tickets – or at least reduce them significantly, which will shake up the industry. Trends in technology like subscription services are making the industry sit up and think, and there’s a clear opportunity for the industry with regards to wearable technology – which airlines have already ventured into.

Jason Thomas: Similar to how downloading and social media made artists realise they didn’t need major record companies to build a fan base and be successful, event organisers realise that due to the technology available, they do not need the largely out-dated traditional ticketing companies to grow their community, increase brand awareness, and ultimately sell more tickets.

Has technology made the administration of ticketing easier? 

Ben Sebborn: If done correctly, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a very smooth flow from purchase to admission. Thanks to mobile technology and upgraded 4G coverage, everything has become real-time. Where we see problems is when promoters try to create their own systems, or use systems from multiple providers without considering how they interact.

JT: It still baffles me that there are still a significant (though thankfully decreasing) amount of event owners who make life difficult and costly for themselves from an administration perspective by using out-dated, ineffective distribution and marketing channels, as well as numerous systems for the same event.

BS: There are still events managing their own ticket sales using a PayPal shopping card – I feel sorry for all the additional work they have to do. Event ticketing should be simple for the event promoter and customer – let the ticket agent do the heavy lifting.

RW: Technology has definitely added simplicity and clarity, and it’s simplified the purchase flow.

JT: In relation to the flow from point of purchase to admission, it’s now possible for one system to manage all aspects from day one of the pre-sale to box office sales and access control on the day of the event, while linking to individual clients’ CRM systems if required.

Has it raised any concerning issues within the industry?

RW: It’s a real arms race to get there first. Everyone is attempting to be the next Uber – everyone’s trying to be a ‘disruptor’ – but there is limited inventory. It fragments allocations and ways
to buy.

JT: In general terms, new technology has helped solve more issues than create them. Of course, there is always the odd exception – for instance, partly due to new technology, fraud is becoming more sophisticated. Similarly, touts are using technology such as bots to harvest thousands of high demand tickets the second they go on sale.

RW: Technology has undoubtedly simplified the music industry, meaning there are a few key players dominating the market because of what they offer – in general, we just buy through iTunes or Spotify – but it’s offering the ticketing industry even more choice, making it more complex with a need to manage more allocations.

BS: The UK industry is a little behind Europe and the US with some technologies – notably RFID integration for entry and cashless bars. As it controls such a vital part of any event, it comes at high-risk. We’re really waiting for a high profile event to take this on and showcase its success. Recent events, such as the issues at Download Festival are picked up negatively by the press and unfortunately don’t help the industry move forwards.