Technology / 09.10.19
More Universities Are Feeling Out Contactless Ticketing
Let’s face it. We’re living in an increasingly contactless society. Telecommuting continues to grow, for instance. The latest Global Workplace Analytics’ research shows that approximately 40% of the workforce now works remotely at some frequency. For those who do work in a traditional office, the basic rules of contact are changing. Earlier this spring, a TotalJobs survey found that three out of four respondents want all physical contact banned at work to remove any confusion over what kind of touch is appropriate. Some employers are even considering whether they should prohibit handshakes.
So, in a contactless world, it’s inevitable that we should have … contactless tickets! They’re certainly catching on in college athletics. Unfamiliar with the term? Katie Wisdom, Director of Ticket Operations at the University of Mississippi, is eager to enlighten. “Contactless tickets are digital tickets delivered to the customer’s mobile device,” she says, “then added to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay app. Upon entry into a stadium, contactless ticket customers just need to open their Apple Wallet or Google Pay then tap the scanner to be validated. There are no bar codes or QR Codes to scan.”
Among the biggest proponents has been Louisiana State University (LSU). Garrett J. Thibodeaux, LSU’s Assistant Manager of Ticket Operations, notes, “For us, we’re trying to go to where our students are. In the past, the tickets have been on their IDs, and we had lots of issues with students forgetting them at home or losing them between Friday night and Saturday afternoon. However, as is the case with most people, they still managed to keep up with their phone. Having the contactless tickets allows us to be on the student’s phone, which they’re putting an emphasis on keeping up with.”
The benefits appear to be many. Thibodeaux states, “In addition to the benefit of being mobile, it also allows us to track the chain of possession on a ticket and get a better idea of who the end user is. We require students to transfer their tickets through their online accounts if they wish to give them to a friend.”
Another school that is embracing contactless ticketing is Michigan State University. One of the campus experts on the subject is Tyler Hooper, an Associate Ticket Manager at Michigan State. “Storing the mobile passes in the G Pay or Apple Wallet allow for a more convenient form of mobile delivery,” he says, “given that the patrons do not need internet access at the gates in order to retrieve the passes from the mobile wallet. Although we’ve only tested the contactless scanning on student T-shirt pickup, we found that the scanning of the contactless ticket is much quicker and has the potential to reduce lines at the gates on game day.”
Still, there have been challenges along the way with regards to implementation. Hooper, who has overseen scanning at athletic events since starting full time at Michigan State in 2017, comments, “Our primary concern during implementation was communication with students on how to use the mobile pass. The students have been extremely receptive and have come much more prepared than we expected, with most students coming to the T-shirt pickup with the contactless ticket already stored in their G Pay or Apple Wallets.”
Thibodeaux, who served as Director of Ticketing at McNeese State University before being hired at LSU in 2014, chimes in, “For us, [the biggest challenge] was just trying to explain our vision to everyone involved and have them buy in as this being something we want to pursue. By doing this with students first, we’re starting with a group of fans that may understand the concept a little better than some of the general public. As the students graduate and become general public fans, we would hope that they would help implement this technology into our fan base.”
Both Hooper and Thibodeaux agree that educating ticket buyers is key to any college or university or other venue looking to go the contactless ticketing route. “Unfortunately, we were pretty late announcing to our students,” the latter remarks. “With them being gone all summer, it’s tough to communicate with them since they leave town and put everything LSU on the backburner for a couple of months. What we’ve done over the past week or so [this interview was conducted in late August] is communicate with them heavily through email and social posts on our Twitter and Facebook pages. We’ve also relied on our current student workers to spread the word in their classes through GroupMes or other communications they have with classmates.”
Despite such challenges, both ticketing professionals are excited for what the future may have in store for the technology. Hooper says, “I would say the very next step is texting the link for mobile delivery. As it stands now with contactless ticketing, patrons receive an email with a link to add the pass to their G Pay or Apple Wallet. I think changing that email to a text delivery with the link will make the process even easier for fans to quickly save the passes to their mobile phones.”
Thibodeaux was equally forward-thinking, concluding, “I hope to eventually see one contactless ticket that can be used for the whole season. This way, fans will only have to download one pass into their Apple Wallet or Google Pay instead of one per game.”
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Tags: Sports , Paperless , Mobile , Stadium , Consumer Preferences