The COVID-19 pandemic will likely create an increased “pressure” on tickets sales and revenue streams for the live events industry as it begins to reopen in the UK.

That’s the view of James Broderick, one of the newly elected Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) Council members, who told that the shutdown of live events in the UK will be felt for “a good number of years to come.”

The head of ticket office at Sadler’s Wells Theatre added that the extent to which it is felt will depend on how the sector chooses to “act and embrace the challenges to come.”

The live events industry is slowly reopening after England allowed for outdoor performances to take place with social distancing measures in place this past weekend. The Government also said it will work with the sector to pilot a number of small indoor performances with a socially distanced audience to help inform plans about how best to get indoor venues back up and running.

Broderick said: “As an industry, we’re going to have to check ourselves and rethink a lot of our business practices and processes to ensure they fit with government guidelines, as well as enable or audience and fans to have a good experience with us.

“We’ll need to focus on being flexible as guidance and requirements may change regularly over the next 12 months and we’ll need to be ready to adapt quickly as they do.

“We’ll also likely see more pressure on ticket sales and maximising income and revenue streams more than ever before, and will need to innovate to deliver these whilst still ensuring we offer a great customer experience.”

While many in the industry welcomed the outdoor performances announcement, it is still a long way off before some venues can think about opening up. Many venues, such as Shakespeare’s Globe, an open-air theatre in London, remain unable to reopen with socially distanced performances as it is not economically viable.

However, those who have been working towards reopening have been forced to adjust and introduce new technologies to minimise contact. Broderick says the pandemic will lead to e-tickets becoming “the norm” across most sectors.

He said: “With the need to support social distancing, maintain more information about our audiences and reduce unnecessary contact, I think this will prove a great opportunity for us all to embrace new technologies and a more digital way of working and delivering ticketing services fit for all.

“We’ll be more likely to use scanning technologies to help measure audience numbers and attendance and monitor audience segments and customer behaviours.

“I also believe we’ll see more collaboration between venues, agents and promoters as we all try to work together to deliver success and we’ll see more alignment in terms and conditions of sale in each sector, which will hopefully give greater flexibility, helping customers as well as supporting business objectives.”

The sector will need to focus on building consumer confidence back up in order to achieve the levels of attendance and revenue of pre-COVID days, Broderick said. “We will all play a part in shaping the new normal for attending ticketed events and what the experience will be like,” he added.

Earlier this month, STAR named five new council members for a two-year term. The UK’s self-regulatory body for the ticketing industry is made up of a number of companies and organisations within the ticketing industry to promote high standards of service to consumers and to enhance and promote the public perception of the ticket agents’ industry.

Broderick said during a time like this, having a society like STAR that “supports and represents the industry is key.”

He told TheTicketingBusiness: “In my time with STAR I’m hoping to be able to help support the organisation and members at a time where our industry and many connected to it are facing the greatest uncertainty, the greatest challenges and the greatest change perhaps in a generation.

“I want to use this time to help STAR develop more opportunities for knowledge sharing within the industry; providing opportunities to share ideas and collaborate across different sectors (whether that be attractions, theatre, music or sport. Whilst this is a time of uncertainty, we can combat that challenge by working together openly, developing innovations and supporting one another on the journey ahead.”

Image: Sadler’s Wells Theatre / (CC BY-SA 4.0) / Edited for size