Technology / 10.29.19
3 … 2 … 1 … Contactless Ticketing!
The age of the contactless ticket is upon us. For proof, look no further than some of America’s biggest college campuses. Paciolan Inc. is working with 11 major programs this football season on a contactless ticketing system that speeds up the process of getting fans through the gate and to their seats.
How does it work? Students receive their tickets via email or text and save them to an Apple or Google wallet. Some colleges send out tickets the week of the game. Other schools sent out all of the tickets at one time prior to the season’s start. When the ticket holder walks up to the gate with the ticket on their smartphone screen, a stadium attendant uses a hand-held ticket reader that instantly detects the ticket through a technology known as near field communication (or NFC). It’s similar to a key fob or a credit card.
Anne Partee, Director of Corporate Marketing at Paciolan Inc., touted the advantages during a recent interview. “Fans and students enjoy the ease of entering stadiums using only their phones or watches,” she says. “Users have no need to search their pockets or worry about misplacing paper tickets. In many cases, users even receive notifications on their phones as they arrive at the game, so they can access their digital tickets with one easy tap. Once tickets are saved to digital wallets, the event details can be automatically updated to reflect changes such as a new start time. Tickets can be used even without Wi-Fi or cellular data service because they are saved to the user’s digital wallet.”
There are other advantages, as well. Fraud risk is significantly reduced in contactless ticketing through the elimination of PDFs and ultimately bar codes, making screenshots useless. Contactless ticketing has also assisted the various colleges in better understanding who attends their games.
“Anonymous event attendance is reduced,” Partee says, “giving schools unprecedented capability to personalize their game-day experience and communicate with fans about future events. Venues gain visibility into the history of each digital ticket, including if it was resold on the secondary market or transferred to another user.”
So, why start with college sports? Mostly because of the ticket buyers themselves. According to Partee, “contactless ticketing is a perfect fit for the college student demographic that is so comfortable using mobile devices for everything in their lives. So far, we are seeing adoption as high as 84%. That means that for fans who were delivered contactless tickets, 84% of them used them to enter the stadium rather than scanning in with a traditional bar code or paper ticket.”
Still, some education has been necessary to get the fans comfortable using contactless tickets. “We helped participating schools in educating their fans about contactless ticketing via emails and posts on social media,” Partee says, “many including instructional videos. Some schools have reported being pleasantly surprised by how quickly their students have understood and embraced the new process.”
So far, the reviews have indeed been stellar. Among the most impressed has been Joseph Rafanelli, Assistant Athletic Director of Ticketing & Data Analytics at Rutgers University. “The biggest benefit to Rutgers and Rutgers fans is twofold,” he says. “First, contactless scanning allows for a more efficient entry process with our event staff and fans approaching with their tickets. Second, it opens more doors to enhancing the fan experience as new, innovative technologies become available. With contactless scanning, we can now explore more options for entry procedures, such as mobile-only lines, eliminating the traditional scanning process entirely.”
Purdue University’s Director of Ticket Operations Jason Bunger agreed. “The biggest benefit for our students — currently the only segment of fans using NFC technology — is the quick entry it provides. Students aren’t trying to get the screen positioned just right under the scanner, and they don’t have to share their screens to get a clear display of a bar code in the sunlight. The ease of tap-and-go entry is easy to see by watching the students enter. Also the more times they use it, the quicker it goes for everyone.”
Equally enthusiastic is Mike Castle, Assistant Athletic Director of Ticket Sales & Operatons for Georgia Tech University. The Yellow Jackets introduced NFC-enabled tickets to Georgia Tech students this football season, making it easier than ever for them to attend games. “Speed of entry improved at the gates and the absence of bar codes on tickets rendered screenshots useless, reducing fraud,” Castle says. “We have been very pleased and will be rolling the technology out to the masses this basketball season.”
All three gave high marks to Paciolan, its technology and customer service. “Paciolan has been fantastic to work with,” Rafanelli says. “Their best attribute is their support staff. The best example of this also pertains to the rollout of contactless tickets. Our home opener against UMass was the first game where any of our event staff and managers had seen or used contactless scanning. Paciolan sent two long-standing employees out to support us for the game. Having their on-site support was a vital piece to our early adoption and success.”
“Paciolan understands how important innovation is at Georgia Tech,” Castle says. “They are always pushing to provide tools that improve the fan experience, gather data and increase revenue for our athletic association.”
In addition to Purdue, Rutgers and Georgia Tech, the eight other early adopters are Baylor, LSU, Michigan State, NC State, Ole Miss, Pitt, the University of Virginia and Stanford. Partee concludes: “Schools that have used contactless ticketing for multiple games have seen a week-over-week increase in adoption, and we expect that trend to continue.”
This article was written in collaboration with INTIX. Have a story idea of your own? The Access editorial team is always interested in hearing from INTIX members who have ideas for contributed stories/guest columns. Read through the Access content guidelines for full submission details.
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Tags: Sports , Mobile , Stadium , Contactless