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Is ticketing close to paperless?

Three ticketing suppliers to tackle the elephant in the room – is the future completely paperless?

Wayne Munday, COO of Ticket Zone, Ben Sebborn, co-director and founder of Skiddle, and Joel Crouch, general manager of Eventbrite UK and Ireland have their say.

Wayne Munday.COO Ticket Zone

Wayne Munday

“Ticketing will never go completely paperless. It’s not a matter of whether the paper ticket will disappear, but rather if the ticketing industry is ready, or fully appreciates the potential disruption to the current business model,” says Munday.

Munday says Ticket Zone has observed a number of indicators that may impact on the widespread adoption of paperless tickets.

“Firstly, there has been a resistance by promoters and venues for ticket agents to print e-tickets. If venues allow paperless ticketing they relinquish a certain amount of control – subsequently, the chances of errors and customer services issues increase. e current procedure of paper tickets being printed and issued by the venue provides another ‘safety check’ within the entire process.

“Secondly, the technology platforms and APIs of many ticket agents and a liates is not only diverse, they are – on the whole – not su ciently joined up to trade in paperless tickets. For example, how do customers share tickets in a group? What security features are inbuilt to prevent unauthorized access?

“Thirdly, a paper ticket still remains a controlled and proven media to venues, allowing customer access without any additional technology expenditure, especially during a period of funding cuts.”

Muday continues: “We don’t believe consumers will support a purely paperless ticket. Instead, souvenir tickets will remain a valuable and integral part of the customer experience. ere will always be a segment of people who want a souvenir ticket as a personal memento. Physical tickets can be easily passed on to other members of their party, or to someone as a gift. Or if there is a power cut, scanner malfunction, dead battery on a mobile phone, the ‘old school’ physical ticket can still provide access. The paper ticket is not dead. Long live the paper ticket!

Ben Sebborn

Paperless ticketing is slick

“In short, yes. Ticketing is ready to go entirely paperless. As well as contributing to the crackdown on touting, paperless ticketing is slick, convenient and hassle-free,” says Sebborn.

The Skiddle founder says, however, that before the industry resigns paper tickets entirely to the recycling bin, we need to ensure that the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“We are close. In recent weeks, it was announced that some venues are now promoting mobile-only ticketing. For many, this may be classed as an innovative (and perhaps long-overdue) step forwards. However, we need to ensure we don’t exclude fans who like using other channels to buy tickets – for example, via their computers.”

Sebborn says the figures are interesting. “Although Skiddle has the highest-ranking events app on iTunes, 63 per cent of customers still opt to buy on the mobile web and 23 per cent on their desktop computers. is is presumably because it’s very easy to access and requires no downloads. For that reason, it’s vital that venues and promoters don’t create unnecessary friction and reduce impulse purchases by requiring a download of an app first.

“That’s why at Skiddle, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to attend the gigs, clubs and festivals they love. at’s why we support mobile-only ticket redemption to prevent touting, but in combination with allowing purchasing across all channels for convenience.”

Joel Crouch

Consumer preference

“The technology to go paperless has been out there for years: in 2011, Eventbrite was among the first 
to introduce apps for storing digital tickets and for scanning ticket barcodes,” says Crouch.

“One year later, we created the functionality to store tickets in the iPhone’s passbook wallet the day it was introduced in 2012.”

Crouch says the comapny’s latest move in paperless is its proprietary RFID technology, which Eventbrite premiered in 2015.

“The wristbands are designed to make not just paper tickets, but cash, wallets and long entry lines, a thing of the past at events,” he explains.

However, what’s keeping the industry from going completely paperless is the speed at which consumers adopt the new technology that is presented to them. Crouch says: “In Germany, for example, many consumers still have a preference towards ‘proper’ paper tickets which are posted to them, and paying with cash is still widespread.

“We have seen that the UK is one of the fastest European countries
to adopt new technologies, including mobile only tickets and cashless payments, so if I had to pick a country in Europe that’s closest to going for paperless tickets only, I’d say it’s the UK.”

Eventbrite, Crouch adds, likes to enable its event creators to offer their attendees the format they prefer, be that a mobile ticket, print@home, paper ticket, Apple Watch or Android Wear ticket, Facebook ticket or as a smart wristband or lanyard.

“In short, the opportunity to go fully paperless is already there; the speed at which we’ll get there depends on consumer preference, and meanwhile we o er an exhaustive variety of ticket formats,” he concludes.

Editor’s note: The original article appeared in the December/January issue of Access All Areas. The digital edition is available now.