Evolution of ticketing - towards a 'spectator experience'

A recent in-depth study of the ticketing industry revealed fundamental changes are afoot in the sector, and that major Games have failed to keep up - Tokyo 2020 can break the mould.

The greatest shift has been the evolution of ticketing from a simple functional transaction, to being an end-to-end “ticketing experience” for the spectator. The study highlighted the drivers of the spectator experience, and in particular three areas that form the blueprint for successful ticketing in the future – (1) technologically driven delivery mechanisms, (2) integrated and secure systems, and (3) innovative business planning.

As each component part is enhanced by ever new technological solutions, the key to successfully unlocking the value of each component, and delivering the spectator experience lies in bringing everything into an integrated IT environment.

1. An interactive experience

Technology is at the heart of enabling the interactivity that makes an experience, not just a transaction, for the spectator. The principal channels being developed include: 

  • Spectator toolkit: Interactive and personalised tools that support the spectators in selecting/purchasing tickets (e.g. advanced search/filter, 3D seat preview, virtual venue tour, etc.).

  • E-ticketing: Transition from centrally printed tickets to ‘print at home’, mobile and facial recognition based systems which enhances the spectator experience, while offering a more secure and simple way to meet fulfilment requirements.

  • Use of social media: Mainstream use of social media throughout the ticketing environment, e.g. driving traffic to ticketing sites, pushing and promoting ticket sales, inviting spectators to post the event for which they have purchased a ticket etc.

2. Securing the foundations

The spectator experience is only possible with a robust and integrated technological foundation. The industry is making huge advances in secure integrated systems, to protect against cyberattacks and terrorist attacks while meeting privacy laws on data.

  • Data security and CRM: Data security protocols and systems that guarantee the wealth of personal data generated through a ticket sale is fully secure, while a world-class CRM system linked to ticketing sales enables the development of greater understanding of the spectators and building of long term relationships beyond the purchase of the ticket (including 360 customer view)

  • Security and access control: Using the latest technologies (e.g. facial recognition) to ensure highest security and access control standards which are fully integrated with the ticketing system.

  • System reliability: Creation of integrated, cloud-based ticketing technology solutions that ensure system reliability alongside revenue/cost predictability. 

3. New business models

Technology is also enabling evolution in ticketing and fulfilment models, and soon the notorious empty stadiums may be a thing of the past. Fast emerging trends include:

  • Dynamic revenue management: Real-time management of ticket sales, resales and allocation to partners/sponsors, that ensure full stadiums while optimising revenues.

  • Package integration: Enhanced integration of ticketing with 3rd party systems (e.g. transport, accreditation, accommodation, etc.) to create a value-adding seamless overall spectator experience package for the event.

If anyone can, Tokyo can

Our study analysed the performance of four major Games against these emerging trends – Vancouver 2010, London 2012, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealths and Rio 2016.  The findings were stark: the Games have consistently and significantly lagged behind industry leading standards, in particular failing on reliability, spectator experience, and e-ticketing. There has been a systematic failure to successfully exploit technology enabled solutions to meet the expectations of a digitally enabled audience. There are two major reasons that this has been the case.

First, historically there has been a disconnect between ticketing and all other IT functions at Olympic Games. Over the years various IT-based functions such as accreditation, scoreboards, CRM, security and access have all undergone integration, while ticketing alone has remained outside. If Tokyo wishes to deliver a modern spectator experience, they must find a way to integrate ticketing into the “Olympic IT family”. This is long overdue and the IOC will no doubt be watching keenly for a future blueprint. From Tokyo’s point of view, by using cloud-based services (similar to what the IOC has already done with Atos) there will be an opportunity to significantly reduce the cost, improve flexibility and better service for the user.

Secondly, the recent Euro2016 Football tournament demonstrated what is likely to become an industry standard for the future – the single inventory. Historically, the inventory of tickets were parcelled out, and the proverbial “briefcase full of tickets” was shipped out to various retailers while organisers crossed their fingers that the tickets would all be sold, stadiums would fill, and all without falling into the wrong hands.

A single inventory theoretically allows the organisers to track the status of every ticket around the world in real-time. This means that the organisers have full visibility and data to enable business decisions all the way up to the event and avoid empty seats. For example, they could contact sponsors whose tickets look unallocated to see if they can be taken back, or they could identify specific blocks of unsold seats and do a last-minute resale at a lower price.

Tokyo 2020 has a superb opportunity: to once and for all integrate ticketing into the Olympic IT infrastructure, and provide a reliable, industry leading technological ticketing solution that delivers the ultimate spectator experience. A true legacy for future Games, and of course, no more empty stadiums.



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