Technology / 12.07.22
Keeping the Best and Leaving the Rest: From Eons Ago to Revolutionized Technology
Join us at INTIX 2023 in Seattle as Tixly’s Sindri Már Finnbogason takes us on a journey into the past and future of ticketing at his workshop presentation.
Imagine being the box office manager at the Colosseum. No, not the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, but the Colosseum in Rome, and not today, but 2,000 years ago. Somebody must have had the job, for tickets were certainly in demand then as they are today — albeit numbered pottery shards were used instead of digital tickets or QR codes.
If we have captured your attention, make sure you do not miss INTIX 2023 in Seattle where there will be a presentation on ticketing from the past to the present and the future. No tickets required, not even pottery shards!
Sindri Már Finnbogason, the founder and head of product at Tixly, knows as much about the history of ticketing as anyone in our circles. What he didn’t already know, he has meticulously researched through traditional means and by interviewing some of the most iconic ticketing professionals in our industry. And he is looking forward to sharing his extensive research and knowledge with us.
“It is sometimes really good to look back and see what we have accomplished over the years and how this all started,” Finnbogason says. “A lot of people who are younger and newer to ticketing would be in complete shock over how this was all done. There are a lot of good stories and funny stories that people would enjoy hearing about how [ticketing] started and how it has evolved.”
While some of those stories will indeed come from ancient times, the stories from our careers and lifetimes are not nearly as distant. It just feels that way sometimes. Many people in the business today started their careers in box offices or ticketing phone rooms — two, three or four decades ago when phones were still just phones and the World Wide Web was still being woven. Tickets ordered on the phone, then printed, stuffed in envelopes, and mailed out or picked up in person at will call were still de rigueur.
“I think people will find it most interesting to learn about how [so much] manual work was required before,” Finnbogason says. “For example, we started digitalizing and using computers to help us with reserved seating. It is quite interesting how it was done before we did that, before we used computers to seat people in reserved seating. What I think is quite fascinating is all the hard manual work that people put in, both when they were selling tickets and regarding fan clubs and doing mail-order tickets. That's, I think, one of the most interesting things. Learning about how we transformed from paper to computer.”
As paper was replaced, the physical artifacts that were created in the ticketing business started disappearing too.
“That is what I miss from the past,” he says. “It was fun to have a ticket at home in a frame [as a memento] of that Beatles concert or something that you saw [back in the day]. It was a beautiful artifact and you were proud of it. And we don't really have that today. We just have it in our event space on Facebook that we attended a concert.”
Finnbogason continues, “What I miss from the past are the physical artifacts that were created in the ticketing business. A concert was not just the concert, it was the ticket itself, the art, the artwork on the ticket and that thing that you can look back on and then dive into your memory and relive that memory. But today we are doing it digitally, and then I can go in my phone and look at a video recording from the concert. It's usually not as good as the concert but it brings me there in a way. I miss the physical objects from ticketing. That is something that we should also think about in the future. Now, people are talking about NFTs and selling digital artifacts, which I don't really understand. It has gone quite technical, and — in my opinion — there was a lot more creativity back in the day.”
With that nostalgia very much in mind, Finnbogason intends to showcase old hard tickets, other memorabilia and even some older technology. “I am going to have a lot of tickets from past shows. I have been in contact with [Grateful Dead ticketing legend] Frankie Acardi-Peri, and she is going through her stuff and will bring [some treasures] with her.”
Speaking of the Grateful Dead, Finnbogason will also touch on the evolution of fan clubs — where they started, how they have changed over the years and how they are today among the biggest drivers of ticket sales.
“There are going to be a lot of good stories that I have gathered and a lot of images,” he says. “I’ve got some high-resolution images from advertisements and mail-order coupons. There's going to be tons of stuff there to touch and feel.”
Finnbogason continues, “I'm working on some hardware from old ticketing systems that people will probably get a little bit nostalgic about … I am not sure if I will have an operating ticketing system that's 40 years old up and running there, but I'll have something. [Perhaps even] a Pitney Bowes machine that was used for the Grateful Dead envelope printing. That printing post machine, they were used for all the tickets that were being sent out in the world. I am trying to see if I can get that. The Pitney Bowes are quite modern today, but the old ones are not so, and it's fun to see. Maybe some people who are going to be there used to use them back in the day. My main goal is to try to get an operating system up and running, but … it's turned out to be a little bit more complicated than I assumed.”
Indeed, Finnbogason says, some ticketing professionals may still be using older equipment or software despite all the astounding advances in technology.
“Sometimes the past sticks to us, and even though the future is here, we are still stuck in the past, using technology that is very old and insufficient that we have been using for maybe over 30, 40 years,” he says.
To that end, Finnbogason believes that our demands of ticketing systems should be even higher and that these systems should match the user experience of other modern consumer-facing software solutions, such as Google, Facebook or Twitter. “The pressure should be on the providers themselves, including myself,” he says.
Tixly, the recently rebranded company that Finnbogason founded in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2014, has quickly expanded across the Nordic, European and U.K. live event ticketing scene. The company’s solution is making inroads in North America as well.
But Finnbogason says he is not out to drum up business with his INTIX 2023 presentation. “I just want people to come and have a good time for one hour and think a little bit about the past and what we've done,” he says. “This is more like a fun lecture on going back. How did [ticketing] start? How did we move reserved seating to computers, and how was it done before? The future technology in ticketing, what is ahead of us … Sometimes it's also just good to sit down and have a look at what we have achieved, walk down memory lane and explore how the best ideas from our history continue to forge the future.”
Editor’s Note: If you are not already registered for INTIX 2023 in Seattle, what are you waiting for? Visit INTIX.org to register today
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Tags: Technology , INTIX 2023