The Future is Paperless: Modernising Event Ticketing

As a future members of the events industry, it’s important for us to keep up with trends and developments, to benefit the events we’re creating. The transition to paperless ticketing, in the form of mobile-ticketing apps and credit/debit card on-the-door identification poses many benefits to venues, event organisers and attendees alike.  This type of ticketing is utilised to try to stop professional scalpers and extortionate resales, as well as increase ease 0f the ticketing process for the attendees as they don’t need to remember or worry about ruining their ticket because it’s stored in their phone.

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Image source via creative commons

Paperless ticketing methods do face some criticism, mainly from the attendees side of the systems.

  • Buyer’s name/card details attached to the ticket: This makes it difficult to buy an event ticket as a gift, especially with the credit card system, where the cardholder would have to be present in order to validate the ticket. This also causes problems with group booking, as the tickets are registered in the buyers name, all the attendees in the group would have to enter at the same time, rather than having the option of meeting inside if someone is delayed.
  • Restrictions on ticket transferring: The paperless system designed to benefit attendees by preventing tickets getting into the hands of scalpers is the same system that causes attendees to pay the price when they can no longer attend an event they have a mobile-ticket for. Unlike traditional or pdf printed tickets, it is not yet possible for mobile-tickets or credit card ID tickets to be resold amongst attendees.

The criticisms of paperless ticketing  can be seen in this news article, where attendees express their frustration at the inflexibility of the system Ticketmaster put in place for a Radiohead concert in 2012.  In America, attendee frustration at the restrictions associated with paperless ticketing has prompted the Fan Freedom Project, a campaign to have more control over their tickets, and argue that paperless ticketing might benefit the event but it is the opposite of convenient for attendees.

A more tangible paperless ticketing system rising in popularity is the RFID bracelets, wristbands or cards which have the ticket holders identity tied to it, are difficult to fraudulently copy and have reduced restrictions on ticket transferring/reselling between attendees. However, the lighter restrictions could reintroduce touting threat and extortionate resale prices, the very problem paperless ticketing is designed to avoid!

RFID technical ticketing methods are increasing in popularity amongst event organisers, venues and attendees, not only because of attendees having more control over their tickets or counterfeit ticket prevention but because of the potential to combine the wristband, bracelet or card with cashless payment technology. Some music festivals are already implementing this technology, such as Wireless Festival  and Download Festival in 2012, to varied levels of success. The crash in the system at Download Festival proves that paperless/cashless ticketing hybrids still need to be developed before being rolled out as a go-to ticketing method. However, with the increase of cashless use in everyday life, the introduction of Apple Pay and similar programmes, technology tickets combined with cashless might be ready to take over from current popular paperless ticketing methods.

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Image Source via RFID

It is important to keep up to date with developing ticketing trends as  future members of the events management industry to not only be aware of developments but also understanding why ticketing is changing. A reaction to unauthorised sellers? Are attendees unhappy? Will new ticket trends enhance my event? This knowledge of ticketing will be beneficial when pairing a ticket method with an event, for example music festivals are more likely to benefit from the RFID tickets with cashless payment technology integrated to reduce queuing at food vendors or cash being stolen. Whereas a more intimate event might best optimise mobile-ticketing to prevent counterfeit copies being accepted which could cause overcrowding and risk the safety of the attendees. In the future, knowing the benefits of different ticketing systems, knowing your event and knowing your audience will allow appropriate selection of a ticketing method.

It terms of right now, no paperless ticketing system is flawless, hence why paper tickets are still used. Both mobile-ticketing and RFID systems have benefits but these differ depending on the perspective or the user. Mobile-ticketing is great for preventing ticket touts from bulk buying and selling on, or counterfeit tickets as well as making entering the event more efficient, where as consumers are restricted in what they can do with their ticket if they can no longer use it, or how they manage group bookings. RFID provides the flexibility of a paper ticket for attendees but reintroduces the risk of touting.

So until the perfect ticketing system is developed to be both convenient and efficient, to be able to be bought as gifts and transferred between attendees, a paperless ticketing is still very much the future.

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