Ian Sanders, Roboticket’s Commercial Director, reflects on his first six months at the pioneering ticketing operator...

Ask Ian Sanders about the highlight of his first few months as Commercial Director at Roboticket and he has no hesitation. Despite a whirlwind start to his time with the ticketing operator following a decade as Commercial Director at Ticketmaster, it was a conversation with a ticket office employee at one of Roboticket’s clients that made him appreciate the impact market-leading technology can have not just on consumers but also on those who must use the platform every working day.

“I asked her what she found to be the benefit of the Roboticket system and in a shot, she said: ‘Roboticket makes ticketing fun again’,” Sanders said. “That summed it up perfectly for me. We want to be the partner that provides technology that automates as much as possible so venue staff can get on with the tasks that make their jobs fulfilling and that deliver the most impact to the fans.

“The new role has been fun for me too; I appreciate the can-do attitude and the innovation, as well as the ability to work without the restrictions of a rigid corporate structure.”

Lech-Poznan-fans

The Roboticket Difference

Sanders switched to Roboticket at the start of 2021 with the task of leading sales and marketing in the UK and working across other territories. His No.1 focus has been ensuring that Roboticket is on the radar of sports rights-holders, clubs and organisations, and in their thinking when they next come to review their ticketing arrangements.

Whether it’s been a Premier League giant, a League Two club or a team in cricket, rugby or any other sports, Sanders has found the response to the Roboticket offering equally enthusiastic.

“When I’ve shown it to people, they’ve been blown away by the ‘Roboticket difference’: the richness of functionality, usability for both fan and ticket office and also its flexibility,” he said.

“We’ve built our platform from the ground up rather than bolting on in retrospect. Some older ticketing providers use systems that were built before the internet and are thus very restrictive. If a client wants a new functionality there would be a sharp intake of breath and an enhancement could take months or even years.

“Roboticket, in contrast, is delivered as SaaS and we can be really agile and respond quickly to needs. For example, if a football club wants to integrate a particular payment gateway, club app or BI provider we can easily make that happen – we allow them to work with whoever they want; that’s what a ticketing partner should do.”

The Roboticket solution also has unique strong functionality around B2B. “Our Ticket Bank feature allocates quotas of tickets towards particular sponsors or partners, allowing them to manage the tickets themselves. Again, saving an employee from having to carry out a time-consuming task,” he added.

Breakthrough period

Roboticket has enjoyed a breakthrough period with a series of new partnerships with sports organisations across the UK and Europe in the last few years. More than 30 partners are now in place, and the strength of the company’s client focus and product is indicated by the fact it has not lost a contract in more than six years. “I can’t think of any operator that can say that” Sanders says.

Clients concerned about switching from long-term partners have also been impressed by the ease of porting over to Roboticket, with Cardiff City even making the move outside of the transfer window! The Championship football club moved to Roboticket via partners NewC in mid-season seamlessly, with all new and – importantly – historical data switching to the new system.

“Sometimes clubs don’t want to leave an existing partner as it’s seen as complicated and dangerous, but transferring a client over is straightforward for us; we are very used to this,” he said.

COVID response

Aside from partnership wins, it was perhaps the technology supplier’s response to the challenges of COVID-19 last year that caused many to take a serious look at this ambitious company. While others were passively accepting tiny capacities, Roboticket was actively working with partners such as clubs, local authorities and football governance bodies respectively to promote tech-propelled solutions that could safely allow much larger crowds of more than 10,000.

Commenting on the Roboticket feature that optimises seating capacity at partners’ venues and was delivered within weeks of the first lockdown in spring 2020, Sanders believes the speedy response and desire to find solutions encapsulates the supplier’s ambition.

“COVID was declared a pandemic in February 2020 – Roboticket had deployed a social distancing feature within one month. Well over a year later I still haven’t seen any other platform release anything as good,” Sanders said.

“We allowed fans to choose their seats from a seating plan with their bubble and then a buffer would be set around them and could be shaped by local rules. Legacy ticketing providers just had fixed pods, but how do you know how many groups of threes or fours you will get?”

“Where fans were allowed, this service could mean an increase in capacity usage by 20-30 per cent. That is a big difference for the club or sport in terms of revenue, but it’s also a big fan engagement and customer satisfaction win as so many more of them could safely return to the stadiums they love.”

Changing behaviour

COVID has transformed so much with many looking at the crisis as a time of pause and reset. “Digital transformation has always been the centrepiece of our thinking, but COVID has made it a necessity for clubs and Roboticket are experts in this area,” said Sanders.  

Roboticket expects behavioural changes in fan attendance and has been developing its product to ensure it meets the requirements of the future. “Our monthly subscription product, based upon the Netflix style, is something that will become more prevalent,” Sanders said. “In order to attract young fans and retain them there must be more imaginative and more creative plans – perhaps three- or four-match bundles that can be ordered very easily digitally and paid through instalments.

“Digital delivery of tickets is now the norm and clubs are keen to roll-out expanded digital ticketing, but we also make sure that while our business evolves our platform can handle the more traditional methods of purchase too.”