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STAR details impact of pandemic and recommendations for building back

STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers), the self-regulatory body for live events ticketing in the UK, has published a report on how the industry fared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Independent ticketing specialist Will Quekett was commissioned by STAR to interview 39 stakeholders from across the ticketing and events industry. This included venues, events organisers and ticketing agents, as well as businesses in the banking and finance sector.

The key findings from the report saw an average drop in turnover of up to 85% in 2020 and 58% in 2021. During the pandemic, there were mass cancellations and rescheduling of events due to restrictions across the UK.

Ticket protection products also saw a rise in sales during the pandemic, as customers sought to protect their risk. Ticket protection companies reported a 300% increase in conversion at the peak of the pandemic, with the figure now stabilising at 200% compared to a pre-pandemic conversion rate.

Employers have also struggled to recruit new staff post-pandemic when building back and disputes through STAR rose from 2019 levels by 39% in 2020 and 73% in 2021.

The report recommends a plan of action for businesses across the live events industry, including greater consistency of ticketing policies; the refunding of booking and transaction fees for cancelled events; common technical standards for e-tickets and access control and review practices regarding advance ticket sales income to help ensure that all sales channels can refund customers promptly.

Further recommendations include developing improved customer service for ticket buyers through the implementation of technologies such as online self-service and chatbots to deal with common questions, and for STAR to consider extending its Code of Practice to include standards of service and information for ticket protection, and to take on a more proactive role in relation to common industry practice.

Jonathan Brown, chief executive of STAR, said: “As the pandemic hit, overnight the ticketing industry went into crisis mode as it sought to support venues, event organisers and millions of ticket buyers.

“It was a truly remarkable effort that the whole industry should be proud of. However, there are always lessons to be learned as to how we can do things better and we hope that this report has been helpful in revealing the starting points for cross-industry discussions about improvements that can be made in the future.”

Report author Quekett said: “It was heartening to hear the praise for hard-working ticketing staff across the country, however, it is clear that there is room for improvement and clarity about how the ticketing and events industry operates to ensure that the public can continue to buy tickets with confidence.”

STAR chair Andrew Sharp added: “STAR has always been at the forefront of cross-industry initiatives to improve consumer confidence in the ticketing industry. This report highlights how the customer-first approach adopted by our members helped them avoid many of the consumer issues and controversies that other sectors faced during the pandemic.

“STAR will use this report to lead the conversation within the live events industry to ensure that this work continues.”

Image: Kilyan Sockalingum on Unsplash