SecuTix’s Richard Hilton discusses how lockdown has led to a digital revolution in museums and other cultural institutions…

Many of England’s major cultural attractions are set to reopen their doors to patrons for the first time this year from Monday.

From the historic art galleries and museums of London to exhibitions in other cities and provincial towns, millions will soon once again be able to enjoy the experiences they have missed in some cases for more than a year as England enters stage 3 of the Government roadmap out of lockdown from May 17.

Of course, visiting these attractions won’t be quite the same as before the doors were closed in response to the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020. For example, at major London locations such as the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, all visitors must book a ticket in advance online, while government guidance around indoor visits, such as the rule of six, applies.

The switch to advanced purchase tickets means visitors are assured of entry, while also ensuring that capacity can be restricted and therefore venues are compliant with social distancing rules.

Of course, this forward-planning and collection of data also creates opportunities for both attraction owners and their digital, payments and ticketing partners.

SecuTix has for years been a big player in the sports ticketing sector, working with major organisations such as UEFA, venues like Emirates Old Trafford and clubs such as Saracens. Now the Lausanne-headquartered SaaS ticketing and audience management firm has seen a spike in interest from museums and other attractions who require solutions to enhance online sales, reduce waiting lines, improve communication and sell multiple products across channels.

“Sport was already massive for us, but now big cultural organisations are coming to us,” Richard Hilton, SecuTix’s head of customer success for UK & Ireland, told TheTicketingBusiness.com.

“No one knows what’s coming next, so organisations have been looking at their technology and looking for ways to ensure they are flexible and can respond to different circumstances. We all hope that things are going back to normal, but organisations have seen an opportunity to make enhancements, especially digitally, and set themselves up for future successes.

“We’ve been very busy in the last 12 months because organisations have had a chance to look at their technology and look for partners who can help them to make improvements while not selling tickets. One example of an enhancement that would rarely have been required before would be refunding en masse.

“With our help they now have a great opportunity to bolster their relationships with their loyal customers and members and new visitors. They can capture more information and details and get to know them better and therefore improve and personalise their offering.

“This kind of thing is already widespread in some sectors, but for many museums it’s something completely alien.”

Next week is a huge step forward for events and attractions in England as people once again can also attend sports fixtures and cinema screenings for the first time this year.

A whopping 21,000 will be able to watch this weekend’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester City at Wembley as the biggest test yet of the Events Research Programme (ERP).

Up to 10,000 spectators will be able to attend each of next week’s Premier League matches, with all 20 clubs to stage at least one home game before the season finishes. Each club has been making their own arrangements for the return of fans, with most deploying ballots of season ticket holders and members while also reserving some seats for corporates.

SecuTix’s Richard Hilton

Hilton, whose company has more than 100 partners across museums, live entertainment, stadiums and festivals, said organisations in the coming months must find the best way to ensure their on-sales work for both themselves and their fans.

He said: “Lotteries are primarily used for two things – they are a way for major tournaments to use data points to capture as many people as possible and a way to control fair distribution where demand outstrips supply.

“What’s really important is for the rights holder to look at what they want to achieve. SecuTix then helps them to find the best solution based on that. Sometimes it’s a lottery with various levels of priority, sometimes it might be a closed loop sale or based on first-come-first-served. For example, one sports organisation we work with could not host its events last year and has now prioritised ticket holders from then for attendance this time. That closed loop sale was the best way for them to deal with their customers.”