The COVID-19 pandemic has made a big impact on ticketing trends and the future of live entertainment.
As we all continue to work through the pandemic, there is a great deal of uncertainty that has become so normal for most of us that it can be almost unrealistic for us to imagine anything except more periods of uncertainty.
While this is true, it pays to think ahead a little and imagine what our futures will be like when we are able to welcome guests back to our venues and have crowds again.
One area that will get a lot of attention is digital tickets.
It is true that organisations have been hoping for greater digital adoption for years. The pandemic has opened the door for rapid acceptance of the technology as a way to ensure flexibility and security for guests as they return.
A number of industry associates shared ideas about upcoming ticketing trends. What will the technology mean for customers and our organisations moving through the pandemic and beyond?
Change in Security and Flexibility
Derek Palmer, COO of Qcue, mentioned that for as long as most of us can remember, security has been one of the reasons that venues have used for not offering refunds and exchanges.
As the pandemic has taught us, the definition of security has been changed.
Moving forward, digital ticketing can flip the conversation on security and enable us to have more chances to engage with our customers in a personal manner so that they can have the greatest feeling of security coming to our venues.
As Derek mentioned, security used to be a reason to not allow refunds or exchanges. Now security can be a reason to be flexible as people will become more concerned about the person next to them coughing or carrying tissues and wiping their nose.
Digital Will Cut Down On Interactions
One of the most time consuming parts of getting into a venue is going through the process of having your bag checked and moving through to a ticket taker to scan your ticket for entry.
In many places, you end up with two or three different bottlenecks where there is friction in the process of entering the building. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, these points of maximum congestion are points where sick folks can pass the virus to other people. For example, the Champions League match in Italy was highlighted as a “super spreader” event.
Huge crowds, such as those considered super spreader events, are unlikely to go ahead again until we get some sort of vaccine in place. Contactless ticket scanning is set to become more common.
Talking with Nicole Sullivan from Florida State University, she mentioned that moving people to digital tickets helps organisations cut down on the time that people are interacting with staff members and congregating in big crowds in common areas.
This is important while we continue to find ways to allow fans into performances and games before we have a vaccine. Because the goal of pod seating and social distancing is to get people into their seats while limiting their interactions with outside contacts.
Peace of Mind
We are seeing NFL teams bringing a limited number of fans into some stadiums. Price hasn’t been a big issue for many customers. A feeling of certainty and security has.
Ryan Kindt at Tickets For Less observed that a lot of ticket buyers have expressed that having peace of mind, liberal refund or exchange programs, and limited engagement with staff or other fans has increased their likelihood of attending games.
Digital tickets allow this to happen almost seamlessly. It is simple to remotely issue new tickets, new barcodes, or transfer a ticket to a member of your pod without ever having to contact a person outside of your group.
The most hardcore fans are going back to the stadiums now for football, soccer, baseball, and other events. Their risk tolerance is different from the casual fans or people in at-risk populations. This means that to welcome back casual or at-risk customers, our attention to safety, security, and flexibility will need to be greater.
As Garrett Rosh with the Indianapolis Indians notes: “Flexibility is about relationships because the pandemic has hit everyone differently. You and the organisation have to work hard to be flexible and understanding with your customers.”
Digital tickets do offer us more ways to give our guests flexibility and security as we work through the pandemic. But reading between the lines, the technology also gives us a chance to deliver a better experience. Hopefully, that allows us to make the best of a bad situation.
Ticketing trends are changing, but the industry must be willing and able to adapt and evolve to satisfy customer needs.
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