Ticketmaster will now require fans to test negative for COVID-19 or have been vaccinated to attend events in 2021, according to an early November announcement. The live event ticketing giant plans to use their digital ticketing app using data from third party health companies and local testing and vaccine partners. So called “smart” tickets, an internet of things innovation, could aid venues in dealing with a difficult COVID reality, and solve some of the problems that came with traditional ticketing, by taking full advantage of the potential connectivity of digital tickets.
The live events industry is in shambles due to the COVID-19 pandemic with steep declines in revenue across the different industry sectors from sports to music festivals. Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, painted a bleak picture in its Q3 earnings report as revenue fell 95% — from $3.77 billion to $180 million.
By linking fans to public health alerts through their tickets, venue and promoter teams could alleviate fan skepticism and provide the security required for a successful return. Only 16% of consumers cite attending a live event as one of their top priorities when social distancing restrictions loosen, according to a report from Mintel on the state of in-person events, so regaining consumer trust will be a tall task for the industry.
Unlike like those precious stubs you have buried in a box somewhere, the paper trail for digital tickets doesn’t stop when you enter the venue. Each ticket would be linked to the buyer’s personal profile, collecting data on the owner that could interface with existing contact tracing technology to better allow patrons to track their exposure to the virus. Currently, major ticketing platforms like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite already feature limited forms of digital tickets and many smartphones are equipped with the ability to activate local contact tracing through bluetooth and available public health data.
While event capacities are sure to be limited as ticketed gatherings begin to come back as early as 2021, savvy promoters could leverage smart ticketing to inflate consumer confidence in live events and unlock some advanced marketing capabilities. Asking fans to opt into an app or connect their relevant social profiles on Instagram or Spotify could be extremely valuable for promoter teams as they seek to gain value during a time when the
Future uses of fan buy-in on digital tickets include push notifications for future concerts and merchandise or concessions in the venue. Smart tickets can also alleviate some of the fan concerns that come with the traditional ticketing model. Fans cite resellers that buy bulk amounts of tickets before regular consumers have a chance to purchase them among their top concerns, according to Mintel. Digital tickets, linked to each buyer, are a bit harder to scalp and may come with stricter resale permissions, limiting some of the traditional flexibility that scalpers have (see: Taylor Swift’s war with ticket buying bots after her 2015 1989 tour).
While many event promoters slow played full adoption of digital ticketing before the pandemic, consumers are now accustomed to and looking for options that can keep them safe, as well as make their experiences more seamless. Buyers may be more willing to pay a premium for their safety, be that by willingly paying ticketing fees or allowing promoters access to their precious personal data. A 2018 Implementing these smart tickets fully, would require an investment from both venues and their partners in local testing facilities, state healthcare networks, and potentially local government, all with the hopes of creating a safer in-person event experience for the future.
- Aswad, J. (2020, November 5). Live Nation Reports 95% Revenue Drop From Last Year. Variety.
- Boesel, K. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Leisure and Entertainment – US – June 2020 (Rep.). Mintel Market Research Reports.
- Gallinari, M. (2018). Live Entertainment – US – December 2018 (Rep.). Mintel Market Research Reports.
- Knopper, S. (2017, September 11). Inside Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift’s War on Scalpers, Ticket Bots. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/inside-bruce-springsteen-and-taylor-swifts-war-on-scalpers-ticket-bots-201770/
- Russo, M., & Feng, T. (2020). Contact Tracing Accelerates IoT Opportunities and Risks (Rep.). Boston Consulting Group.