In our Insider Interview Series, the world’s leading ticketing experts share their vision and insights on the industry. Asking the questions is our CEO Hans Nissens.
The expert today is Ian Nuttall. Ian is a respected sports and entertainment facility consultant. He began his career in the sports events sector, hosting corporate hospitality at F1 Grand Prix events across Europe. His event management experience has taken him to Japan, Australia, South America, Canada, and the USA. After an award-winning career in business journalism, he founded the industry’s respected Stadia magazine to fill the ‘knowledge gap’ in the global sports and entertainment facility sector. Today, his Xperiology. company owns and hosts each year TheStadium BusinessSummit, TheStadiumBusiness Awards, TheStadiumDesign Summit and, in the ticketing sector – TheTicketingBusiness Forum & Awards, the new TheTicketing Business Asia meeting and the global news channel TheTicketingBusiness.com.
Ian, it’s a pleasure to meet again and we welcome you to our Insider Interview Series. With TheTicketingBusiness Forum 2019 just around the corner, we are very much looking forward to your expertise on the key trends emerging both from the Forum and TheTicketingBusiness news channel.
Hello Hans. Not sure I qualify as an ‘expert’ but happy to offer some insights from our speakers and readers.
Q: What in your opinion will be the key trends that we can expect to see during this TBF edition?
A: One of the key trends definitely revolves around where your tickets are made available. We see a trend away from exclusive ticketing deals. Single product listings are now going to multiple sales channels. The moment of sale is everything and discovery is the driver.
Q: This is indeed a new development. Could you give me an example of discovery being the driver?
A: Absolutely! Placing concert tickets alongside the artist’s playlists, book signings alongside the booksellers, and so forth. Apps will also evolve towards this trend as well to optimise the buying experience at the time of sale. We want to find the sweet spot when a prospective purchaser is most likely to decide “Hey I want to be at that event.” There are emotional triggers – as well as commercial considerations – at play.
Q: This seems indeed like a logical development and I am convinced we will see this trend evolving in the future. What is your opinion of the resale struggle?
A: The market strikes back. Market-forces such as consumer social media, along with the regulation of government-forces are driving a paradigm shift in resale. Not so long ago resale was the main income stream for the big ticketing companies. Many have now closed their official resale platforms and instead have moved to ’slow ticketing’ – meaning they are releasing tickets in tranches at different price points – or official resale (capped) platforms.
Q: You mentioned ‘slow ticketing’. Is this a trend on itself to be expected?
A: Definitely. ‘Slow ticketing’ is on the rise. The use of dynamic and demand-based pricing is evolving in the sports and entertainment ticketing business. For more than two decades dynamic pricing was already commonplace within the airline and hotel sector. It was only a matter of time for the ticketing industry to embrace this pricing system as well as the pricing is pivotal. The days of a ‘face vale’ published ticket price are – excuse the pun – numbered.
Q: Dynamic and demand-based pricing does require a different data approach than the traditional pricing models, does it not?
A: You are absolutely right. This demands real-time data-driven decisions that are increasingly powered by AI, micro-personalisation, and offers that will be based on the buyer’s behaviour and the seller’s level of supply.
Q: Meaning that once the buyer’s behaviour is analysed, the threshold to actually finalise the buying process can be influenced?
A: Making it as easy as possible is the key here. The fewer barriers there are for a buyer, the better. Say YES to the buyer and make it possible for them to pay in a blink.
Q: This requires some changes to the business of ticketing agencies & co as well right?
A: Indeed it does. The position of the CIO is without doubt on the rise and the traditional Box Office will thus disappear over the next decade. I would label this trend as The Rise of the CIO & the Death of the Box Office.
Q: With the changes you mentioned and the shift towards big data, doesn’t it also bear some risks within?
A: The Real Identity issue, certainly. The biggest change for the sector will be the rise of biometrics and alternative identity platforms to confirm real vs virtual customers. In the absence of an industry-wide secure log-in, ticket sellers haver either required an account for each platform. Or, by default, they have used Facebook as the de-facto authentication. We’ve seen already some of the backlash to Facebook’s re-use of personal data so the quest is now on for an alternative single sign-in across platforms and devices.
Q: It seems that these major changes require that the standards handled in the past are just that, a thing of the past and in need to evolve?
A: The ticketing industry is definitely in need of some global standards and improved interoperability. These new standards and interoperability have been needed for a long time already, but now it finally seems that due to the genuine desire among the industry key players to develop some internationally applicable standards that the development has started and will gain momentum.
Q: Great to hear, I agree entirely that new standards need to be evolved. Earlier you mentioned the airline and hotel sectors. Do you think that due to the latest industry developments the travel and tourism sector will have an impact on the ticketing sector as well?
A: The Travel and Tourism sector is the biggest business sector in the world. For sure it will have a major impact as it is coming to ticketing, or rather ticketing is coming to it. The discovery and travel websites are all focused on the ‘last mile’ – in other words, the add-ons to hotel and flights that drive their revenues. I think we’ve all had an encounter on those websites with the offers of add-on insurance, parking, airport transfer, fast-track security and so on. Now the travel operators are looking into what activities our guests can pursue whilst on holiday. TripAdvisor has had a team of programmers building APIs into the world’s key sports, entertainment and attractions ticketing platforms. Ryanair is now selling concert tickets in its destination cities. Of course, the margins on sports and entertainment tickets are much tighter than those commissions available on hotel or flight bookings – but however small, it is all incremental revenue.
Q: Talking about hotel and flight consolidators, consolidation of the ticketing industry comes to mind. What are your thoughts about the trends to be expected in this domain?
A: The Consolidations Continues. Start-ups that are getting too much market or margin will be acquired. Regional or local players will be swallowed as the big ticketing companies compete for healthy, profitable inventory. Promoters want to get closer to ticketing as their primary income.
Q: The future of ticketing looks exciting and full of opportunities, wouldn’t you agree?
A: I agree – disruption is everywhere. Incumbents need to be as agile, creative and customer-focused as their competitors. More than ever before.
Ian, thank you for your insights into the trends to be expected at this year’s TheTicketingBusiness Forum. I am very much looking forward to meeting again next week.
My pleasure. Looking forward to navigating the new ticketing waters with you.
During this year’s TheTicketingBusiness Forum you can meet us @ our Booth 117. Make sure you also mark Tuesday the 9th of April 11 AM (GMT+1) in our agenda as our CEO Hans Nissens will be presenting the groundbreaking concept of Enterprise Saas in Room 2.
This interview was edited by our Marketing Manager Lea Vanessa Stiels.