Softjourn

The Death of the Physical Ticket

March 29, 2019


Introduction

Ticket stubs used to be a souvenir; a reminder of that concert or event you went to. Sometimes the stub would signify the experience you had camping out to be able to buy it. You’d stash the tickets away or attach them to the refrigerator to keep safe until the day came to use them. Or maybe discover you’ve forgotten them when you get to the venue.

Several industries have chosen digital tickets over physical paper tickets to reduce fraud, add convenience, and lower costs. E-ticketing has been mandatory since 2008, and  Amtrak offered e-ticketing on all its routes in 2012. 

Disadvantages of Paper Tickets

Companies have moved away from conventional ticketing for several years. As customers started purchasing tickets over the internet, ticketing companies began issuing tickets in the form of electronic documents that could be printed and presented at events. This process presented its own set of challenges including:

  • Lost tickets
  • Stolen tickets
  • Counterfeit tickets
  • Long will-call lines

Why digital?

In response to these new problems, companies are adopting “paperless ticketing” which is an electronic seat reservation. Customers buy their “ticket” with a credit card, and then present their ID and credit card at the venue to gain admittance. 

Paperless ticketing seemed like a wonderful way to thwart scalpers and offer unprecedented convenience to fans. It also introduced its own set of drawbacks, including:

  • Inability to buy tickets as a gift (also known as the Granny problem) and in the same vein:
  • Inability to attend an event as a group if a single purchaser bought the tickets in a block and can’t attend
  • Non-transferability

Two new technologies to watch are mobile-only ticketing and facial recognition. “Something you have” is one part of the authentication process, so your phone is about to become your point of entry to an event. Already paperless, attendees show their barcode email to gain entrance to venues and use their phones to pay for coffee. The next step would logically be to use the phone to combine purchase and entry instead of a ticket.

Anonymity at events is going to become obsolete. Safety concerns and marketing opportunities both benefit from identification of entrants. Venues will be treated much the same as aircraft by identifying exactly who is in the space. Using the “something that you are”, much like a fingerprint phone unlock,  facial recognition is the next step to automatically identifying event attendees.

What in the future?

New technologies always present new challenges. Modern ticketing technology has revolutionized airline security, travel convenience, public transportation, and will continue to provide conveniences to improve the buyer’s experience. Ideas like dynamic pricing, venue mapping, and fan engagement will enhance and streamline guest experiences while modernizing the owner’s revenue stream.


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