As those of us who buy tickets to events such as concerts and sporting events are well aware, the experience is not always seamless. In spite of having received attention from regulators, including the U.S. Congress, several state attorney generals’ office, and the Federal Trade Commission, consumer complaints about ticket purchasing experiences persist.
One common complaint is lack of transparency in ticket fees and/or high fees. While ticketing companies point out that a significant portion of the fees go to the venue or event promoter, this is often not communicated effectively to the consumer, resulting in a lack of understanding of fees that can be quite high. Moreover, on some platforms, fees have not been shown until the end of the transaction, leading some consumers to feel frustrated or even deceived. Such practices have led to U.S. Congress introducing a bipartisan known as the TICKET act.
A second issue that once again came to light in sales of tickets for Taylor Swift’s 2023 tour is difficulty in obtaining tickets and long wait times due to the use of bots by professional ticket resellers. In spite of Congress passing the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, it is widely acknowledged by regulators that problems with bots allowing resellers to capture large numbers of tickets persist. Moreover, there is sometimes a lack of transparency on who the reseller is and whether profits from the resale go back to the venue. In some instances, there are also issues related to security and fraud associated with the ticket resale.
One of the other challenges in the digital era is that some individuals who have a sentimental attachment to hard tickets and they miss these mementos associated with the event experience. Moreover, many buyers’ experience would suggest that tighter targeting of promotional messages could match their interests and give them access to things they truly care about like purchase announcements, deals, or special events.
As new technologies develop, however, the ability to address some of the above issues has increased and at least one new upstart company is attempting to address these gaps. To better understand what new ticketing technology can provide for both venues and consumers, I spoke to Asher Weiss, co-founder and CEO of Tixologi, Inc. a self-serve, blockchain based technology firm.
Tixologi’s services use blockchain technology to provide innovative advantages that are helpful to both venues that sell tickets as well as the consumers who purchase them. Tixologi’s program allows venues to keep customers on their own website and produces captive data that allows for better targeting of and marketing to customers. Weiss states, “A big part of increasing ticket sales starts with knowing who your true attendees are and being able to re-engage them. Having more accurate ticketing and event attendance data along with behavior data allows venues to market their events to attendees who will actually be interested in attending.”
Indeed, pinpointing who the end buyer is and building long-term data on their preferences and purchase habits can allow for improved targeting of on-sale notices, discounts, and special events/offers. For example, if a buyer has gone to the last two concerts a band has played at the venue, the venue might wish to send them a pre-sale notice or offer. Moreover, venues can keep the audience engaged on their own website and, in so doing, exercise more control over the brand experience.
Two additional aspects of Tixologi’s technology are: 1) better control over resale, resulting in potential incremental income for the venue; and 2) the ability to eliminate or at least greatly reduce fraudulent ticketing. Under Tixologi’s system, the venue controls the ability to communicate fees transparently and to build this openness into the resale of tickets. Regarding transparency, Weiss notes, “We use blockchain to ensure all tickets are real, know who holds them at any point in time and create rules that dictate how the tickets can move and change hands. This puts the venues back in control of their ticketing and gives consumers peace of mind and a better overall ticketing experience.”
With respect to security, Tixologi’s program has major advantages based on blockchain’s ability to keep track of the ticketholder. As Weiss points out, “Ticketing security is a big issue today, leaving fans frustrated and venues with major security concerns. A couple examples include tickets being listed and sold multiple times on different secondary marketplaces and fake tickets created by internet scammers. Tixologi’s tickets are all blockchain-based, meaning we can easily track who holds the ticket at any point in time. This, plus a rotating QR code we use on every ticket to ensure screenshots can’t be used for event entry, gives attendees confidence that their tickets are always real and will work when they arrive at the event, while also giving venues peace of mind by knowing who holds their tickets and who enters their events.”
In addition to the venue, consumers also benefit from efforts to improve security. Beyond this, attendees’ tickets can be made to live on forever as a unique memento or non-fungible token (NFT). While Tixologi’s program does not produce hard copy tickets, the consumer can have the option of printing a memento. “We don’t offer hard copy tickets today, but our tickets are digital collectibles that live on forever as a memory of the event,” says Weiss, “The original idea for Tixologi came from fans and attendees missing the collectible aspect of the ticket, a memento to take home from the events they attended. We have found a way to bring that back in a mostly digitally-ticketed world and give attendees something to hold onto for years to come. Today, our tickets can include special imagery from the event, and in the future will include event highlights, videos, songs, partner offers, etc. We see this as the rebirth of ticket stubs, but better!”
Blockchan-based improvements related to security, better control over resale, and the ability to duplicate nostaligia of ticket stubs in new and creative ways appear to be key components of a successful new business model for Tixologi — and one that venues and customers are likely to appreciate.