From stubs of brown paper with minimal information and design to tickets with facial recognition capabilities, the event ticketing industry has come a long way. Though its core purpose remains the same, the humble ticket has smartened itself up over time to do much more than that.
Events have been inextricably linked with human life for as long as we can remember, and having the ticket to attend something has always been a source of joy and pride. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word “ticket” sprang from the obsolete French term estiquette that meant to press, pierce, insert or attach. In the sixteenth century, particularly in Versailles, the word was often used to describe a code of polite behavior in official events such as court ceremonies. While its derivative, etiquette, is still used to refer to formal mannerisms, the expression evolved even further when the English dropped the word’s first two initials to create a new word ticket.
The world’s very first ticket was perhaps an unassuming paper scrap or an ink stamp on skin that guaranteed certain privileges and entrance to a congregation wherein a select section of society would come together to achieve a common goal. Though the earliest tickets could have been just flimsy pieces of paper that offered access and monitored attendance, the introduction of technology has empowered the ticket to lend itself to several challenges of the event management industry.
Today, ticketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is expected to earn a revenue of USD 33,734 million in 2018 and grow at an annual rate of 11% to USD 51,294 million in 2022. Despite the rapid growth in sponsorships, tickets remain one of the leading sources of event revenue, with the average revenue per user (ARPU) in sporting events expected to cross USD 150 in 2018.
Several trends including the barcode, hologram, smartphones, payment gateways, social media, and augmented and virtual realities have shaped the event ticketing landscape. Let’s look at them in greater detail.
Barcodes And Holograms: The quintessential printed ticket reinvented itself with barcodes and holograms. The black lines and shiny silver patches made it difficult for fraudsters to duplicate tickets and enhanced the event security. In the early 90s, some tickets were also printed in special invisible ink that could only be deciphered if seen under ultraviolet light. Today, the barcode has been replaced with the QR code. While a barcoded ticket comprised limited information about the event, a QR code can store greater information about the event and the attendee. Explara’s in-venue entry management mobile app is updated with and equipped for these tech trends.
Payment Gateways: The next leap forward in ticketing and event management was the advent of payment gateways. These globalized the industry by making the ticketing counter obsolete and empowering attendees from across the world to go cashless and purchase tickets online. By removing the need for human intervention, online ticket purchases also helped attendees save time and gain fair and equal access to tickets.
Smart Tickets: The arrival of the smartphone disrupted the ticketing industry by doing away with the need for a physical piece of paper. It simplified and upgraded the ticketing process by establishing a deeper connection with the attendees and generating more points of revenue. Several event organizers are increasingly developing custom applications that offer access and seamless experiences that cover all aspects of attending and leaving the event (in fact, Explara has a dedicated solution to enable branded custom apps). A smart ticket can enable attendees to gain entry, hire taxis or get parking tokens, purchase food and merchandise, make plans as a group, and share their experiences on social media.
Augmented And Virtual Realities: The Indian Premier League recently introduced tickets enhanced with augmented reality. The physical ticket included information that allowed users to gain access to a web browser that let fans watch the game’s highlights, check out merchandise in the team’s store, get a 3D view of the stadium and even look at traffic updates in and around the area. Similarly, event organizers have also been using virtual reality to live stream events right inside the homes of fans who would otherwise not be able to make it to the arena physically. Virtual reality has also boosted ticket sales and expanded the base of prospective customers. According to Digitell, 10-35% of people who watched a live-streamed event ensured that they attended it in the following year.
Product Embedment: Increasingly, companies are trying something new by embedding tickets into their products. Case in point being Adidas. The shoe manufacturer recently released a pair of sneakers with a subway pass worth $869 embedded in them. The pass will allow consumers to use Berlin’s subway system to travel between two central transit zones of the city. But there’s a catch – commuters would only be allowed to use the so-called “free” pass if they use the shoes every single day. The shoes are covered with neon patterns that feature on the subway’s holster and their laces are the same color as the train’s external shell.
Facial Recognition: Unlocking devices and offering access based on facial details is not only another feature of the latest iPhone but also one of the buzzwords of the ticketing industry. The technology is expected to provide a faster and more secure way of screening attendees. Several airlines are already using facial recognition to recognize attendees who could pose a threat to the security of its customers. Theme parks have also combined facial recognition with augmented reality to create photographs of attendees and tag them on social media. So, who knows? In the future, your face could be your ticket.
As with any other industry, the future of the event ticketing market is also full of digital and data-related technologies. While tickets will continue to serve its core function of providing access, they will also be a tool that will aid the event management industry in offering enhanced experiences to its attendees. It could lead to the organization of better events by serving as an enabler in marketing, data gathering and revenue generation. Using a multi-faceted and all-encompassing events platform such as Explara, could take away all your event woes, let alone ticketing/registration handling.
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