Ahead of Live Nation Entertainment’s quarterly financial statement to investors, Ticketmaster announced its SmartEvent solutions on October 29 as “a new suite of technology tools that helps fans safely return to live events”.

“SmartEvent gives event organisers an array of solutions to help make that possible,” said Mark Yovich, President of Ticketmaster. “SmartEvent brings together our advanced technology platform and industry-leading venue and seating insights, putting Ticketmaster in the unique position to facilitate paths back to live.”

The press release stated that the SmartEvent suite includes a Social Distance Seating Tool, a Timed Entry Tool, Entry Rate Monitoring Tools, Geo-Fenced Push Notifications, ‘designated’ Egress Plans along with support for “custom communications directly to ticketholders before and after the event”.

SmartEvent could also “transform a traditional box office into a Contactless Box Office” with Ticketmaster’s release referencing the application of its contactless solutions at the Kansas City Chiefs. The NFL team began its 2020 season with 100% of fans entering the game with a digital ticket. “Not a single paper ticket was scanned,” reports Ticketmaster.

 

“As far as the SmartEvent PR blurb,
I can’t see much new here.”

 

Trade journals rushed to share the SmartEvent announcement which, with its stylish new graphic, also garnered coverage in the weekend supplements and tech sector press.

However, many within ticketing – including Ticketmaster’s own customers – were more sceptical of the SmartEvent announcement, questioning which elements were actually new or even available.

“Ticketmaster’s SmartEvent innovation is a rebadging exercise of various pre-existing mobile and some digital technologies,” one industry expert told TheTicketingBusiness. “It’s anything but a suite of software. Not all of the features are available to all territories. That’s because of the differing Ticketmaster ticketing platform backends and many of the APIs necessary for its integration are still far from developed.”

Ticketmaster has long had entry-rate monitoring tools and egress modelling, both of which are a standard offering to meet venue safety licensing requirements. Geo-fenced push notifications can be provided by an array of methods, often via third-party providers, relying on non-Ticketmaster infrastructure such as WiFi and beacons, along with geo-location software.

The Social Distancing Tool is “currently being rolled out”, says Ticketmaster, claiming to date over 180 clients have “started tapping into this tool.”

Elsewhere in the SmartEvent release, Ticketmaster claimed that it “has a front-row seat to new tech, health and logistical developments around the world that may be ripe to integrate into its platform.”

The accompanying graphic included a section labelled Contact Tracing to “allow contact tracing where necessary”.

Ticketmaster stated that its Secure Ticket Transfer “gives organisers a key public health contact tracing solution with the ability to provide information to local bodies as required to enable quick analysis and notification”.

This element of the press release was further explored in a Billboard feature (“How Ticketmaster plans to check your vaccine status”) and then picked up by media around the world, with Ticketmaster subsequently backtracking to clarify its role as a possible facilitator of – but never an instigator – of any health licensing measures requested by event organisers.

Ticketmaster concedes that “the road back to live events will look different in markets around the world depending upon local conditions and regulations” but it goes onto claim that “Ticketmaster’s SmartEvent offerings provide event hosts with tools they need to operate in this new environment while giving fans peace of mind.”

“As far as the SmartEvent PR blurb, I can’t see much that’s applicable here,” another observer in the UK told TheTicketingBusiness. “They’re really talking about the HOST platform. So, for examples, concerts, arts, etc. on XR – which was called Venuemaster – wouldn’t be able to get some of this. The Chiefs’ story is a US HOST/Arctics set up so it’s not relevant for international markets.

“Unless there has been some special development during the lockdown, essentially the APIs currently available on an international basis are almost totally focused on event discovery. I doubt there’s been any special development. And don’t forget the potential impact of the group’s big redundancies on TM’s product development team.”

“But labelling this as a new suite of tools is not right. Most of it is a rehash of existing tools with some added aspirational element. Sorry to use such a harsh term but that’s what we in the business would call vapourware.”

 

“I wasn’t the only TM client left scratching my head
when we saw the SmartEvent announcement”

 

Observers say that the Timed Entry Tool is “arguably the only new tool” in the SmartEvent suite, but would need further clarification to confirm.

“To say this is new really depends on how this tool works,” says one former Ticketmaster executive. “It’s possible – but fiddly – to achieve timed entry through SMS or email messaging from the CRM. But if the SmartEvent suite offers a different approach then it might well be new. It’s just not clear.”

This view was echoed by one US arena-based Ticketmaster user, who also requested anonymity.

“I wasn’t the only TM client left scratching my head when we saw the SmartEvent announcement. Like many arenas here we kinda get what we are given by Ticketmaster and we’ve not heard about any of this new stuff,” said the executive for an NBA basketball team which uses TM’s Presence platform.

“In theory you can stagger entry times by triggering timed messages using a tag field. But we already use this field for other purposes so it would cause us problems to do it that way. If there’s a new tool to do timed-entry that would be useful. But we’ve not seen it.”

In response to reader enquiries on SmartEvent, we reached out to Ticketmaster several times. Having requested that all questions be submitted via email, Ticketmaster has not provided any response to TheTicketingBusiness.com questions on this topic.