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More Global Perspectives On Tickets In 2018 (Primary and Secondary)


I’ve been doing quite a bit of focusing on challenges and opportunities in the ticket industry in 2018.

Today, I want to pull together a few more with a mixture of primary and secondary voices and some international voices.

Patrick Ryan, Co-Founder at Eventellect:

There is a flipping of the roles between the primary and the secondary market that presents challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. As the primary market has increased their initial pricing for tickets and used more dynamic pricing this has decreased some of the activity on the secondary market.
But in the effort to eliminate the spread, teams have yet to feel the impact of needing to use dynamic pricing to bring prices down.
What will happen as the primary market starts rewarding late behavior more? Especially when they’ve historically done a better job of rewarding early buying behavior.

Ian Taylor, Head of Ticketing & Data Management at bigdog Live in the UK: 

For the UK ticketing market, key to 2018 will be trust. In the months until GDPR becomes reality, customers will get bombarded with emails from every retailer they’re signed up with, asking them to revalidate their permissions, Many businesses are seeing this as a threat, worried that their database size will shrink drastically as customers choose to no longer be marketed to by that brand. In reality, this is an enormous opportunity to have better, more invested, listeners to your marketing messages.

But customers will also be swiftly educated, or reminded, that it is they who are in control – so trust between the brand and the consumer will be the highest value commodity that there is. Retaining that customer during all of this ‘sky is falling’ change is all about engagement, which we’re very aware of here at bigdog Live, and we’re working hard to reinforce this into our planning with all of our clients.

Customers will also want to trust the source of their ticket, which at present in the UK is a very thorny subject. Secondary market here is regularly gaining negative press and for many valid reasons – most regarding transparency and ultimately this comes back to trust.  This is a market where many primary channels – ticket agents – are engaged by the promoter directly, and they (broadly speaking) provide a very well established customer offering and a trusted distribution network. Promoters win as this expands marketing reach without marketing budget. But the secondary players are increasingly on the ‘outside’ of this in terms of public opinion and while 2 of ‘The Big Four’ are owned by Ticketmaster, this just leaves the giant StubHub machine (good at PR, lower brand recognition) and the villain of the piece Viagogo. The others seem to be keeping their heads down save a few well trotted out PR lines, while Viagogo are (perhaps rightly) in the stocks being pelted with rotten fruit.

Customers will engage where they trust, but will also probably still buy where they can get tickets – even if that means venturing outside of the primary market. Very much caveat emptor then, as customers may soon learn that their passion purchase via an unregulated source turns to a ruined evening out.

The solution? For starters, venues and agents in the arena/stadium circuit could start trusting each other more and make a connected marketplace a reality; opening api connections between systems (as London’s West End has done in a tremendously successful way) will ultimately enhance customer experience with lower waiting times for physical tickets to arrive, better ability to move prices at the touch of a button (up OR down), and a much much more efficient distribution network. Trusting this at the C-Level of these venues will be the key, and until the fears of lost fees revenue and inventory control are tackled (both surmountable with a change in business strategy), it’s going to be a tough fight to bring the network kicking and screaming into the 21st century.


Dr. Dave Arthur, The Sports Doctor and Managing Director of the Institute of Sport in Australia: 

From a general point of view I think the opportunities in sport lie almost wholly in grass roots sport. There seems to be significant push back from sports consumers who want the profligate spending on already rich franchises, sports and organisations (including stadia) by governments around the world. We are seeing push back from grass roots about supporting major event infrastructure (referendums about bidding!) or stadia construction that benefits only franchise owners. Need a balance!
They need to support the grass roots but how is both an opportunity and a challenge.

Challenges: being relevant / staying up to date / managing inputs to my knowledge – how do we find and digest the information we need and cut out the “crap”

Opportunity – as ever, bringing new ideas, fresh thoughts and extra revenue opportunity to people we work with.
Angela Gahan, Antix Management (Australia):

I did a quick survey of the office and interestingly, the answer to both questions was RESALE!

Across the industry in Australia we are grappling with the question of how to interact with the secondary market. It’s a growing sector, it’s complex and it’s not going away. There’s an opportunity to increase yield, test pricing, extend our reach and learn about our consumer. The risk if we don’t participate is that we leave all of these opportunities to someone else.

 Bryan Ralston, Sports Consultant:

For teams and venues the challenge is unleashing the talent of their sales team members. Many organizations are great at running call centers and managing their employees to daily call numbers and other “touch points”. The challenge is to create the environment where sales team members can bring their minds to work to innovate and create opportunities to build relationships with prospects and current customers that lead to long term retention. Maximizing the skills and talents of sales team members is a challenge that leaders must take on. Doing so will increase fan avidity, increase revenues and allow teams to retain their best sales talent for a longer period of time.

Be where your fans are. It’s (almost) 2018, and you can go on any number of primary market ticketing sites on your iPhone – and painstakingly attempt to buy tickets on non-optimized websites.  The challenge is for teams / venues to really walk through the buying process of a potential fan and recognize and fix any roadblocks they experience along the way to a purchase.  I know we’re hyper-focused on collecting data, data and more data! But, what about the fan that just wants to click on the website and see a list of the regular season home games in chronological order? That should be easy, right? Focus on the basics.
The opportunity for teams and venues is to be bold and think beyond the next six months. For sales leaders, plan as if you’ll be there in three years. How would you approach the market if you were concerned with building long term revenue streams, creating new fans and providing great customer service that would differentiate your brand from all of the competition?  Sales teams that work on the urgent goals of the games coming up next week and carve out time to plan for the games next year create bigger opportunities that have staying power in up and down economies and team performance cycles.

Another opportunity in ticket sales for 2018 will be having conversations.  In theory, people are more reachable now than ever – by phone, mobile, e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook…and on and on.  And yet – with all that noise, and all the competition in all markets, the average consumer can easily filter sales calls and messaging. Which means, we need more innovative and creative sellers that can fine tune their prospecting strategies to break through and create the opportunities that lead to conversations. That’ll require an evolved ticket sales leadership strategy to bring it all together successfully.

Ken Troupe, Co-Host of #Social4TixSales on Twitter:

In 2018 I expect we will continue to see the streamlining of the market. Teams will continue the trend of partnering with secondary market…

Steph Maxwell, Senior Business Development Manger at Vibe Tickets (UK):

Challenges – Ticket fulfilment will be a big challenge for us from a secondary ticketing perspective. Late dispatch from primary sellers, the increase in mobile ticketing and most likely an increase in ID checks at venues. This will greatly effect the secondary market. The lack of understanding from artists/promoters with gifted tickets may be worth mentioning, as it can put fans off buying, if they are worried about what name is printed on the ticket. Parting with your hard earned cash shouldn’t be a painful experience. It should be a pleasant experience buying things.

The number one opportunity to sell more tickets will be the general public becoming the disrupter and refusing to accept the big four’s business model and fee’s. 2019 will be a strong year for live entertainment. Tickets are becoming more and more expensive and promoters are becoming more and more ambitious. The fans need to take the market back from the big four to develop and grow a true marketplace.

Jo Michel, Michel Consultancy (Australia):

I think one of the biggest challenges especially in the Not for Profit sector here is keeping up with technology changes. Customer expectations change quickly with regard to online purchase and there is an expectation for organisations to adapt and change quickly, but that is a huge challenge especially for regional and local government NFP’s.

The biggest Opportunity is coming from the area of social marketing – new tools are utilising social media marketing and marrying it with ticketing data to increase sales potential and retention. These strategies can be really easy to implement and can make a big difference for an organisation.