Technology / 05.17.23
Joe Calnan Offers Ticketing Pros Genius Advice on Embedded Protection
Post-pandemic, the desire for “peace of mind” has increased among consumers when buying live event tickets, especially tickets to the biggest concert tours and the most prime sporting events. During the COVID-19 crisis, many people had to deal with canceled events and were uncertain they would be able to get their money back. “Post-pandemic, customers are more risk-conscious, but sentiment for live events and shared experiences remains strong,” Joe Calnan, Partnership Director of Live Entertainment Ticketing at Cover Genius says.
In his company’s recent Refund Protection Report, Cover Genius found that the majority of global consumers want a pain-free experience when purchasing tickets and are more likely to buy an event ticket if they have the option to purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” (or CFAR) protection. In fact, Calnan says, “Sixty-three percent of respondents said they’d be highly likely to buy a live event ticket if offered CFAR protection — that number goes down to 54% when the protection that’s offered requires them to provide documentation — such as a doctor’s note or evidence of transport interruption — when submitting a refund request, or when the protection covers limited reasons like medical or transport interruption only. Data also shows that consumers are willing to pay 123% more for this option, which aligns with the trend of customers being more risk conscious.”
This is where embedded protection comes into play, a concept Calnan spoke about on the Inspiration Stage at INTIX 2023. He says, “As more and more interactions move online, consumers are looking for seamless and intuitive experiences. Customers don’t want to take an inconvenient ‘second step’ to protect their purchases. They would prefer to receive tailored offers directly from the brands they love. Embedded protection leverages real-time data to present personalized protection offers at point of sale or the most relevant point in the customer journey. Typically, this sits on the payment pages as an optional ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for customers to select.”
“By offering embedded protection, it ensures a safety net should something go wrong ahead of an event,” he says. “Ticketing platforms can address their customers’ needs and connect more deeply over the lifetime of their live event participation.”
Cover Genius provides an end-to-end solution and handles everything from licensing to claims and payments for its partners. The firm is licensed or authorized in more than 60 countries and all 50 U.S. states, with instant claim payments in 90-plus currencies. “We work across a number of industries from ticketing to travel, retail, logistics and fintech,” Calnan says. “In ticketing specifically, customers typically buy tickets six to 12 months in advance and are looking for peace of mind when purchasing, which ticket protection offers. Cover Genius is unique as it doesn’t just offer one product globally. We have many different products ticketing companies can utilize, including travel and accommodation protection for fans traveling a long distance, gadget cover for festival goers, and CFAR for fans who will pay a premium to have this flexibility.”
Coming out of the pandemic era, Calnan says he and his colleagues have indeed been seeing tickets at the very top end of the market being sold even further in advance and for higher prices. From a psychological standpoint, embedded protection helps increase the propensity for someone to buy a ticket. “In the middle and lower end of the market, consumers are typically buying tickets close to the event because of concerns around cost of living, public service strikes, and other reasons,” he says. “Ticket protection supports this scenario by giving customers peace of mind.”
Calnan speaks with a wealth of experience. In his current role, he is responsible for leading and executing Cover Genius’ live entertainment ticketing strategy and creating value for partners with embedded protection solutions. Prior to Cover Genius, he held leadership positions at AXS, an industry leader in ticketing and data solutions, spearheading partnerships and strategy for eight-plus years. Calnan says, “To me, it’s the best industry I could imagine working in as most weeks I’m either at a sports match, concert, festival, or the theater!”
When he began working in ticketing almost a decade ago, tickets were still being printed out on a large scale and a big percentage of customers went to the box office or called the contact center to get their tickets. “We dealt with material amounts of fraud/chargebacks, and the only way to pay online was by using a credit card,” he says. “Technology has transformed all of this in a very short amount of time, and today’s customers demand a fully digital experience with value-added services like protection. This shift also presents an opportunity to increase ancillary revenue, which is now critical as margins are squeezed across all industries.”
He continues, “With protection now top of mind for consumers, ticketing companies are increasingly turning to ‘insurtech’ leaders that excel in digital distribution to meet their customers’ needs. Following years of uncertainty surrounding live events, there is an opportunity to provide the security and peace of mind consumers need to purchase a ticket with embedded protection. By working with an insurtech partner, ticketing brands can move away from outdated, one-size-fits-all protection solutions offered by traditional insurers and co-create tailored solutions that are fit for the digital age.”
Clearly, Calnan enjoys talking about this subject. And he particularly enjoyed imparting his wisdom during the “Enhancing the Customer Journey With Embedded Protection” session at INTIX 2023. He was honored to share the stage with Jo-Ann Chiam, Vice President of Client Enablement and Support at AudienceView, Kelley Monts de Oca, Director of Ticketing at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square and Wakeman Consulting Group CEO David Wakeman.
“It was a really great session as we were able to fully cover the customer journey with different perspectives being given, and we outlined strategies that ticketing companies can employ to give customers the confidence they need to return to live events,” he says. “A key takeaway was that customers are facing a new set of challenges and concerns when returning to live events, and companies can address those with tech-driven embedded solutions that enhance the customer experience.”
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Tags: Technology , Embedded Protection