Reboot And Future-Proof Your Ticketing Business
Clubs have spent more than a year playing behind closed doors and ticketing offices have lain largely dormant during this time. However, as we prepare for the return of fans in the new season now is the time for clubs to consider their ticketing infrastructure and ensure their technology is up to date. Here Frédéric Longatte, CEO of SecuTix Solutions whose clients include Southampton FC, Everton FC and AFC Ajax, tells us about the digital transformations that are happening right now in football ticketing.
Health security management
Everyone in the sports ticketing industry is having to rethink their way of working, with health and security being top priorities. Clubs need to show they have the ability to be agile and respond to changes in health restrictions. This is vital to maintaining the trust of fans as they return to live sport.
Ticketing technology can be used to manage health security. Controlling the flow of people entering a stadium is possible with time slot features made available at the point of ticket purchase. Advanced ticketing systems will likely have time slot features built into them, but until now these have not been widely used by clubs. The benefit is that stadiums can set the period of time and quotas for that slot to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Seat selection algorithms mean that tickets can be sold whilst respecting social distancing rules. Clubs can adjust the parameters for seats in line with local regulations, responding quickly if rules are relaxed or dialled up. Being automated helps from a logistical perspective and gives clubs the confidence to scale up when more fans are allowed back.
If the worst happens and a game has to be called off, clubs really need a robust refund system to respond to last-minute changes. Fans should feel confident that refunds are handled efficiently and communication from the club is clear and timely. But it’s complicated. Tickets purchased by direct debit, premium credit schemes or PayPal are more difficult to process. You then have the added challenge of handling an inventory with a broad spectrum of ticket types – one-off games, season ticket holders, hospitality and VIP packages – and working out whether to roll payments forward to later games or give automatic refunds. Clubs need to work with their ticketing technology providers to ensure their systems can flex to meet these rapidly changing situations.
Taking control of fan data
Football clubs are at the forefront of using data-driven insights. The ticket purchasing moment is a key opportunity to collect valuable data on your fans and visitors. But only if you can own and use that data, and that’s why clubs are increasingly looking to technology partners that can give them back control of their own data.
Now is the time to use that fan data to listen to fans, find out their concerns and fears and use the data to build, even rebuild, relationships, not just sell to them. We’re confident that the majority of fans will return to the live experience but it’s important to recognise that not all fans may want to come back into a stadium, so use the data and ticketing technology to personalise offers to meet their needs, perhaps even consider flexible ticketing options. It can’t just be about those fans physically visiting you. How you treat all fans now could future proof your fanbase and business.
Blockchain mobile ticketing
Blockchain technology is driving digital transformation across sport, including ticketing. It can be used to create secure mobile tickets which help combat fraud, digitalise the fan experience and improve venue security by creating encrypted barcodes. As the barcodes are completely traceable, blockchain ticketing removes the risk of counterfeit tickets and makes it easy for fans to transfer or resell tickets securely. The latter is more important than ever if someone suddenly can’t attend because they need to quarantine.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for mobile ticketing. Clearly, from a health standpoint having fewer physical touchpoints is better. We recently introduced a new self-declaration questionnaire feature in response to customer requests. The mobile tickets to access a stadium are only activated upon the completion of a time bound self-declaration questionnaire about potential Covid-19 symptoms.
With the rise in digital mobile tickets assigned to an individual comes a massive opportunity for clubs and rights holders to get to know their fans better and ultimately have a more direct relationship with them. Pre-Covid, the big football clubs were already moving to mobile tickets, but Covid has accelerated the change at all levels of the game and we’re now working with mid-sized clubs who want to switch too. I predict in three years time, 90% of football tickets will be mobile.
The use of open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) is at the forefront of ticketing technology innovation. By removing barriers, modern ticketing systems that provide a full suite of publicly open APIs can evolve and adapt quickly to new digital technologies. Using an Open platform means you can continually improve and respond to the ever changing business needs. It can connect with the latest in digital technologies to improve the customer journey for all fans, easily connecting with third party software. You choose the external applications you want to work with – 3D maps, remarketing, analysis software – and we provide the built-in flexibility to make things work. The days of a ticketing provider insisting you use their systems are over.
This open way of working connects clubs’ systems, supporters, third party partners and teams like never before. Ultimately, it delivers an amazing fan experience, making the ticket purchase a key part of the main event.
Case Study: Ajax & Johan Cruyff Arena
AFC Ajax and the Johan Cruyff Arena started working with two products from SecuTix Solutions in 2019: the cloud-based ticketing solution SecuTix 360° and TIXnGO, the secure mobile ticket wallet. As part of the agreement, Ajax has also become a development partner of the SecuTix 360° SaaS ticketing platform and will collaborate on new features specific to the sports sector.
The club used TIXnGO to help welcome a limited number of home fans back into the Johan Cruyff Arena in a series of pilot events testing out the return of live sport. This culminated in 10,000 fans at a game last September, with each fan receiving their ticket using the TIXnGO safely and securely in the mobile ticket wallet.
Using secure blockchain technology, TIXnGO creates a unique, encrypted ticket for smartphones that is verified, removes the risk of counterfeit tickets and simplifies the process of transferring or reselling tickets for Ajax fans.
As Ajax’s ticketing partner, SecuTix Solutions will help the club improve their fan experience, better understand fans and use ticketing data to consistently have a full stadium. The open SecuTix 360° platform will be integrated with other third-party software providers, giving Ajax the flexibility to work with their preferred solutions for the club and their fans.
Ajax sponsors and partners will also benefit from the new system with the ability to independently manage and distribute their tickets whilst providing data collection for the club.
Menno Geelen, Commercial Director at AFC Ajax, said: “This overhaul of our ticketing strategy will future proof our ticketing business, with endless possibilities for integrating ticketing and its data with our ambitions for the wider digital experience. With SecuTix Solutions we will serve our fans better and develop the best global ticketing platform in football.”