Nic Young
02 August 2017 00:00


Stuart Cain is the Managing Director of The Ticket Factory which is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. As the company looks ahead to the next 10 years, Stuart talks about five things that have changed the face of ticketing over the last decade:

1. The decline of the paper ticket

 “Technology has changed the face of ticketing beyond recognition. Eight or nine years ago ticketing companies would be employing swathes of people to stuff envelopes with tickets and put them in the post. But now, over 80% of what we do is e-ticket. That percentage will only grow as paper ticketing becomes increasing obsolete, and new emerging mobile technologies come about. All a ticket really is, is a barcode – a way of getting into a venue and proving that you've paid. As technology continues to change, there will be endless new ways for people to prove that they have bought that ticket.”

2. The move to online

 “In the same way, our box offices are increasingly moving online. 10 years ago you'd see hundreds of people queuing outside of a box office for a big sports event when it went on sale. Now no-one queues outside box offices, everyone dives on their computers or laptops. Increasingly they are diving on their phones – mobile is the most common way our ticket buyers purchase with about 60-70% of our traffic coming from phones or tablets. This means people are buying tickets on the bus, on the way to school, in factory restrooms. The way people have engaged has changed dramatically due to technology.”

 3. The demand for live events

 “Over the last decade we have seen demand for live events go up and yet inventory levels roughly stay the same. As the competition to get your hands on that hot ticket grows, ticketing agents, venues and promoters have diversified the way in which they distribute or allocate tickets. For a yearly fee some venues offer access to pre-sale tickets offering their most fervent fans an exclusive window to buy tickets 15 minutes before the general on sale time – and 15 minutes can make all the difference in this case! Particularly popular events or artists are also increasingly utilising the ballot or lottery method. High demand for events mean agents like ourselves need to deal with spikes in people visiting our website – whether the on sale is for 5,000 or 500,000 tickets, our ‘queue it’ system holds people back until it can get customers onto the site and transacting fast.”


TTF ticket for a wide range of live events


4. The rise of secondary ticketing

 “One of the knock on effects of ticketing moving online has been the rise of the secondary ticketing market. Many people buying a ticket aren’t even aware of this £1billion industry which is crippling the UK’s creative economy. Touting has evolved drastically over the years – it’s no longer the stereotypical ‘dodgy dealer’ on the street but global, well-financed organisations and cyber-warriors who are leading the charge. Ticket agents like ourselves have stepped up to combat this threat – we’ve implemented intelligent software to actively block malicious attacks and fraudulent activity without stopping genuine fans buying tickets.”

5. The diversification of ticketing

 “When people think of a ticketing agent, they might assume all that business does print tickets – but they couldn’t be more wrong!  If the success of a live event depends on an audience being there, we’d argue that ticketing is more integral than they think. We tell all our clients that maximising opportunities at the ticket point of purchase means fans will be willing to spend more cash on event day. Therefore, promoters, venues and artists should see the ticketing journey as an opportunity to upsell hospitality, car parking, merchandise, food and beverage, travel and accommodation. At the same time as helping to maximise sales for the client, providing customers with the opportunity to pre-book services helps to provide them with a seamless experience on the day of the event from the time they arrive at the venue to the time they leave.”