Leadership / 09.01.21
Tix Has Just the Ticket(s) for Europe’s Continued Reopening
When you are trying to transform the ticketing business, but those aspirations are running parallel to a global pandemic, there can be a certain frustration. But the dedicated people who work for Tix Ticketing remain undeterred.
Under the leadership of CEO Sindri Már Finnbogason, Tix has revolutionized the Scandinavian ticketing scene. Now it has its sights set on the U.K., Irish and Benelux markets. One of the key figures in this ambitious expansion in the time of COVID-19 has been Ken Paul, Tix’s Head of Sales & Customer Relations.
He remembers back to the early days of the health crisis and how proactive Tix was: “When the pandemic started, Tix immediately developed solutions for our clients in the Nordic countries to help them deal with the issues they had, such as bulk refunds of events, and we quickly developed a social distancing seating algorithm. CEO Sindri Már Finnbogason then decided that the downtime was a good opportunity to explore new markets beyond the Icelandic and Scandinavian markets and reached out to lots of contacts in the Benelux and U.K. region. We gave lots of presentations of the system. After receiving incredibly positive feedback, we chose to open in these markets and, since November, have become one of the largest growing software ticketing companies in Europe.”
Paul and his colleagues thought it was much better to seize the opportunity rather than remain on the sidelines and wait for better times. So, with so much of the population getting vaccinated and more and more live events back on, how has Tix’s business been re-gearing for people buying tickets again in more consistent numbers? “Most of Europe is now back at 100% capacity,” he says. “However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, lots of events are still being canceled at very short notice.” Tix’s batch refunding and marketing tools have made it possible for the company’s customers to be contacted by SMS or email at short notice.
“During the downtime,” he says, “we developed lots of sophisticated marketing tools to interact with audiences. This means that it can now be cheaper for the venue as they recover from 18 months with no income, as there is no need for lots of the expensive integrations that venues have been paying subscriptions for. We found some of the venues in the new markets were using four to five different systems every day to handle their ticketing and, on top of that, paying developers and data experts for trying to achieve their goals.”
Along the way, new ticketing technology has indeed emerged to deal with the “new normal.” “Last Christmas,” he says, “Tix used its technology to allow lots of customers — particularly in Iceland — to stream live performances by giving back a code when a ticket was booked. During one event in Iceland, it is estimated that 25% of the population watched an event via streams, and we sold all the tickets without any trouble.”
For Paul personally, this past year has tested his leadership skills in ways he never imagined before the coronavirus hit. It’s also tested Tix in general. “The biggest challenge,” he says, “was to decide to expand into new territories while all venues were closed and no way to know for how long the situation would go on. We also found that new territories meant new developments. And in the nine months since we took the step, we were very lucky to find experienced staff to help us understand this, which we found was most helpful, and now we have found success!”
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter of 2021 and beyond, Paul feels optimistic for where the business is headed. Not only are more venues opening back up and selling tickets, there is clearly a lot of pent-up demand. “One example is DeSingel in Antwerp, Belgium,” he says. “They set 37 different subscriptions on sale, which include 171 events. They also started general sales for 54 other events a week later.”
He continues, “They had two peak sales days where around 60% of the total sales of the subscriptions were sold and over 90% of them were sold fully automated online. It was their best ever sale, so that showed us the interest of people to start attending live events again. We have also signed some incredibly impressive new customers, such as the world famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Stadsteatern in Stockholm and the Oslo Concert House.”
The key, as always, will be in navigating change. The COVID-19 Delta variant has had its impact, and there is no way to predict if additional variants or other factors will come into play and continue to affect live events.
Paul concludes, “I believe it will be a nervous start, as people have to get used to sitting next to strangers in close proximity for the first time in almost two years. We have seen in London that some venues are currently asking for proof of vaccine or a negative test before entry is allowed. Some venues are currently leaving a part of the theater socially distanced in case a customer is too nervous to sit next to strangers. For the next year or so, we will not have the inbound travel that Broadway and London depend on. So, I believe that we will see a big rise in regional audiences. I don’t believe there will be permanent changes to customer behaviors, however. But I do believe venues will have to do more with ventilation and hygiene to make their audiences safe going forward.”
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Tags: Leadership , Ticket Office , ticketing pros