With the boom in mobile ticket sales and the advent of new technologies such as RFID and contactless payment, the world of ticketing has evolved beyond all recognition in recent years. Andy Povey, Operations Director at Gateway Ticketing Systems UK, reviews the ticketing trends of 2016 and takes a look at some of the major changes to the way we buy and sell tickets on a global scale.
Ticketing Trends 1. Instant Tickets
Customers want tickets in their hands as soon as possible and ticket sellers want to sell out events quicker than ever. It’s a win/win situation, with both customer and ticket seller benefitting from easy, and quick, transactions.
Mobile and tablet ticket sales are predicted to take over as the dominant form of pre-booking in the very near future. With almost 50% of sales now being completed on a mobile device, customers are demanding a simple end-to-end user interface and a way to display tickets on that device.
Ticketing Trends 2. Contactless & Apple Pay
2015 saw the introduction of Apple Pay and a huge increase in contactless technology. From truly wearable payment devices to the 212% increase on contactless card transactions during 2015, this really was the year of the contactless payment.
2016 may prove to be the year of the contactless donation, with the development of a new terminal that allows donations to be made in seconds. While suited to any venue, this facility is expected to be particularly popular within the arts, heritage and charitably-funded sectors or where payment of an entry fee is discretionary.
Shorter queue lines are, of course, the obvious benefit of contactless technology particularly where visitor volume is high.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew played host to a trial on contactless cards in a ticketing environment which saw an impressive 1 day per month saving in staff hours. Once the UK payment limit was increased to £30, they saw this saving jump to around 2 days per month of staff time.
As contactless becomes more prevalent this will continue to decrease transaction times and increase cost savings.
Payments are becoming fluid and confidence is growing in contactless technology. As a result, we believe this will be an area of rapid growth in the coming year. This will be especially so in many tourist attractions where the £20 limit in the UK was unmanageable.
Ticketing Trends 3. Responsive Webstore Design
With mobile buying power constantly increasing, attractions need to consider how their customers are accessing their websites and stores.
With tablets, e-readers, watches and other wearable devices becoming more commonplace, it’s important not to cater solely for mobile phones. A responsive website and webstore can move seamlessly from device to device, offering the best ticketing experience regardless of platform.
Any ticketing vendor failing to provide a responsive webstore in 2016 will soon find it difficult to support the changing face of the attractions market.
Ticketing Trends 4. The Rise and Rise (and fall?) of RFID
The buzz around RFID continues. New versions continue to promise every attraction, museum or zoo a complete solution to all their ticketing worries.
RFID can be a great tool. It works wonders in waterparks especially. It can also be used at a high standard for combining ticketing, hotel rooms and spending.
But, while there is huge potential to make extra revenue, drive visit volume and collect data, it is just that – potential.
Attractions still need a plan to back it up. Many customers who have spent large amounts of money are suddenly disappointed that RFID doesn’t deliver these magical benefits.
Before investing in any new hardware, you should always ask questions that are hardware (and software) agnostic. “Where will I scan a ticket?” is a much easier question to answer if you aren’t worrying about how that ticket is presented, where to plug in power or worrying about network connections. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
That’s not to say we haven’t seen some great uses of RFID in recent years but, we suspect it might be at peak usage. The customer already has a mobile device capable of showing a ticket. Is there really a need for another piece of kit?
Ticketing Trends 5. VIP Treatment & Pre-Sale
Exclusive and VIP special events are accessible via your webstore. They are therefore a good way to stir up interest and make your customers feel special. They can also give you the opportunity to add to your bottom line.
Get your campaign right and you can sell out those exclusive events in minutes. The result will be a waiting list and growth of your followers.
The V&A did just that in 2015 for their Alexander McQueen exhibition. The buzz around the event created a waiting list so long, the museum was able to stay open through the night for the first time. Indeed, their closing week proved to be as busy as their opening week.
Initially attracted to the preview event, many first-time visitors also became members, boosting the V&A’s membership to over 75, 000 for the first time.
While a spike in popularity is good news, crashing your website through high volume sales is anything but. Keeping your VIPs happy means ensuring that they never have to compete with the general sale. So, offer your members something special in advance and take the pressure off your regular sales.
Pre-sale tickets and special events with pre-registration will become more common. This will be because attractions strive to reduce the load on themselves and increase service levels.
We predict that it will also do wonders for making everyone feel that little bit more appreciated.
Images: Screen shots kind courtesy Discovery Cube OC.