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Takeaways from TheTicketingBusiness Forum

Manchester was the place to be for the ticketing industry last week, with the city also hosting the opening game of the 2022 Women’s Euro, which smashed attendance records at Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

However, it was down the road at Emirates Old Trafford that TheTicketingBusiness Forum took place, welcoming visitors and exhibitors from across the globe.

If you were unable to join us, here are some of the key takeaways from the event.


As mentioned in the early review last week, the opening panel discussed how, amid the backdrop of a pandemic, political turmoil, financial crisis and a global climate crisis, patrons still want to experience live events, travel and theatre.

Sports Travel & Hospitality (STH) Group’s general manager Emily Tuffin; Cameron Hoy, managing director of Ticketek; Daniel Gidney, chief executive of Lancashire Cricket; and Laurence Miller, commercial director of Nimax Group discussed re-opening and trading in this environment.

While the conversation highlighted the trials and tribulations faced when it comes to selling tickets, all panel members noted that the right product and content will attract customers.

As Hoy mentioned, London’s West End provided a great antidote at the end of the Great Depression, so it would make sense for patrons to look for a sense of escapism.

Do it yourself

Amy Trynka, senior ticketing and strategy manager for Arsenal, discussed how the Premier League club moved forward over the last couple of years to drive season ticket renewals online.

Arsenal has 43,000 season ticket holders, 7,000 of which are at premium club level, while 36,000 are general admission. Amy and her team wanted to change fan behaviour when it came to the renewal process.

Ahead of the 2019-20 season, 65.49% of season ticket holders renewed online, while 34.51% still phoned up or went to the box office.

So, management changed up the email process, sent SMS reminders, push notifications and linked supporters to their account.

Ahead of the 2021-22 season – there was no renewal process for the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic – there was an increase to 75.79% online renewals, with 24.42% in-house renewals.

Further ideas were conceived including the creation of an online user guide to take supporters through everything they needed to know in order to renew their season ticket online. There was also an online library of FAQs and an article section.

Ahead of the upcoming 2022-23 season, 91.47% of season ticket renewals took place online.

Buying patterns and knowing your customer

Thursday’s final panel concentrated on the use of data and how a greater understanding of data can lead to better business decisions, increase ticketing sales and drive sponsorship revenue.

The panel featured Rebecca Molloy, head of ticketing and audience insight at Bristol Old Vic; Edson Crevecoeur, senior vice-president of strategy and data analytics at FTX Arena; Mikkel Bjerre, ticketing and customer service manager, FC København and Shah-Zeib Ahmed, head of ticketing for Rugby League World Cup 2021.

Bjerre discussed how FC København adopted a subscription model for some of its season ticket holders, and now it weighs in at 60-40 in terms of subscribers to traditional season ticket holders. The club uses data to see what is working and what is not.

Ahmed noted how difficult it can be for an event such as the Rugby League World Cup, as the management team begins with little to no data. Organisers can possibly tap into local federations or clubs, but data is mostly gained throughout the organisation process. Decisions have to be  made quickly, so any data available needs to be utilised and made to work.

Molloy talked about how data can show the need for change – Bristol Old Vic is a historic theatre, and has many traditions. However, data can sometimes show that there is no need for a Thursday matinee anymore and suggests there should be a Sunday show.

Data also helps funded theatres like Bristol Old Vic in what it presents to audiences, as well as the price points.

The winners

Of course, there was the return of the annual TheTicketingBusiness Awards, which celebrated innovation, unsung heroes in the industry and business of the year.

You can view all of the winners here.

Celebrating a decade of TheTicketingBusiness Forum

Not only did this year’s Forum represent a full return to normality, but the event also celebrated its 10th birthday. Ten years of ideas, debates and discussions have proven invaluable for the ticketing industry, which was reflected by Patrick Morsman, who recently joined Tix Ticketing as sales and operations manager.

Discussing this year’s event, he said: “It’s exceeded my expectations. We’ve had a chance to talk to quite a few people and they’ve been quite surprised, I think, about what we’re able to offer. So in terms of developing the UK market, which is what we’re trying to do, it’s been very positive.

“We’ve been able to talk to people internationally as well those from Germany, Denmark and further afield.”

Morsman added: “I’ve learned a lot about our own product because the great thing is, people ask a lot of good, detailed questions. They want to know how it’s going to fit into their business. They’re also looking at the event itself – gaining ideas of how things are going, where things are going. They’re thinking in that future proofing mode, so that gives it that interesting angle.”

Toby Stubbington, managing director, TicketPlan, said that the event had been “fantastic, likewise for December”.

He added: “It’s been fun and it’s been good to catch up with loads of people. It’s good to get an insight into ticket buying behaviour and tech.”

The closing debate 

TheTicketingBusiness Forum rounded off two days with a debate on a topic that is bound to divide opinion in the industry – dynamic pricing.

Hugh Gledhill, interim marketing director, Layered Reality; Lasse Rich Henningsen, Miskkens Hus & Aalborg Symfoniorkester; Sean Kelly, founder of Vatic and Alexandre Martin, chief executive and co-founder of Smeetz, led the discussion.

Points included how a number of theatres and organisations in the performing arts sector are non-profits, and how utilising dynamic pricing could make too much money. This fear could stop patrons from paying the value they think the product is worth.

There is also a worry about venues and organisations being too committed to low prices, and that there is far more supply at these low prices than demand. However, with dynamic pricing, it was argued that management could start even lower, which in turn improves accessibility, and then increase the price once there is demand.

Other views included the manual work involved, analysis and market conditions and how this could affect the implementation of dynamic pricing.

Another key point: you can’t discount your way out.

Images: Paul Heyes