Technology / 12.17.18
The Future Is Already Here
Much has been written this year about the transformative change that is occurring in our industry. While it is an exciting time, there has been so much change and it has come at us so fast, one could be excused for wishing that things would just settle down for a while.
While I admit that I did describe ticketing professionals as “magicians” in a recent address to the College of Hospitality Management (and in our “Ode to Ticketing Professionals” article), I’m afraid there is no Disney-like magic dust that can slow down the pace of change.
Simply put, we’re in for a real eye opener in the year(s) ahead. There is a feeling of electricity in the air as we prepare for the next great wave of change to sweep over us. I’m excited that the INTIX community will come together next month to discuss these and other industry trends at our 40th annual conference.
The Wonderful, Wireless World of Tomorrow – Today
Perhaps nowhere has change been more rapid than in the wholesale move to wireless technology.
Few of us now go anywhere without our smartphones, and this has led to a paradigm shift for our industry with new ways to buy tickets, pay for tickets, and deliver tickets. But it goes far beyond this.
Not only can we as ticketing professionals access and manage the backend more efficiently, but we can also do far more on the front end to engage with the consumer. This extends to events themselves, where the proliferation of Wi-Fi and RFID has led to fully integrated mobile experiences that improve fan engagement from minimum-click mobile purchasing to VIP package options that get fans closer to the artists, athletes, and teams they love. Even #INTIX2019 is moving to RFID — we’ll have a custom lead-retrieval system to connect attendees and exhibitors provided by Microcom Corporation.
How far have we come? In 2018, just a decade after electronic ticketing (with downloadable PDFs) became available, the Denver Broncos moved to all mobile ticketing with no hard copy or print-at-home option. Broncos fans without mobile phones have the option of using RFID tokens instead. This season, the Baltimore Ravens also began requiring fans to scan mobile tickets as part of an NFL-wide push that requires all teams to offer digital tickets by the 2019–2020 season.
In the fall of 2019, when the newly-built Chase Center opens for business in San Francisco, it will be the first stadium designed from the ground up with technology in mind, creating new experiences with custom mobile content and venue-specific services during NBA basketball games, concerts, family shows, conventions, and more.
And yet, even as we begin to talk about smart stadiums, the conversation is already shifting to monetizing virtual reality technology that could someday make it possible to offer rich, immersive on-the-stage or at-the-game experiences directly to your home.
On the surface, it’s easy to shrug and think that it’s not going to happen tomorrow, but as Disney marketers so aptly point out, “In Tomorrowland, the future is already here.”
No sooner do we get accustomed to the tools and technologies we are using than they become obsolete. Technological evolution speeds up exponentially. What used to take a decade to come on stream is now happening in two or three years.
Largely driven by technological advancements, entertainers and sports teams are exploring exciting new ways to engage their fans. At the same time, access to venues is becoming more secure, and partnerships are being established to ensure fair and equal access to tickets on both the primary and secondary markets.
Thankfully, professionals in this industry are a very nimble group who actually embrace change. Just as our customers are hungry for easier, faster, smarter ways of doing things, so too are we.
So, what’s next?
As we look to the New Year, blockchain technology and associated words such as “cryptocurrencies” remain a “distant” and mysterious concept, still not fully understood by most people and likely to raise the question: Is this real?
Not only is it real, but it’s about to have an impact on everything we do.
Just as wireless led to a paradigm shift in our industry, so will the blockchain—a shared public ledger of information that many believe can create efficiencies and build positive fan sentiment and engagement.
In 2018, the Dallas Mavericks announced they will accept cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as payment for tickets as early as next season.
Ticketmaster announced it is turning to blockchain technology to help protect fans against fraudulent tickets and help event coordinators gain more control and visibility over ticket distribution.
While the sports industry is abuzz with the possibilities of blockchain technology, the looming question is how far into the industry will it reach? We’ll find out soon enough.
At INTIX 2019, we’ll help demystify blockchain with panels on how it and open-source software will revolutionize ticketing, plus impacts for the user experience and the ticketing professional.
As we move forward with this and other technologies, we must remain focused on hospitality and service — the hallmarks of our long and noble industry. We need to find ways to use all this wonderful technology to better engage, communicate and welcome guests to our venues.
In a sense, we are returning to moment-to-moment sales and person-to-person relationships, but we’re doing it in new and exciting ways. Let’s keep doing that in 2019 as we continue to embrace change, ensuring that our venues remain open, accessible, safe and hospitable for all.
I hope you will join us at INTIX 2019 in Texas so we can continue the conversation and continue to learn from each other.
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Tags: Paperless , Ticketmaster , Security , Blockchain , WiFi