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In 2012, I see so many opportunities for the ticketing industry that I barely know which one to go after first. Between the rapid explosion of mobile technology and the almost immediate upgrades cloud-based systems can offer, there's almost no limit to what is possible in the next 12 months.
For my first prediction, let's start with mobile ticketing. According to Yahoo, "iPhone" was the No. 1 most-searched term in 2011. Approximately 44 percent of Americans already have smartphones, according to data recently released by Nielsen, and I don't think it's going to be long before most Americans have smartphones.
I think we can all agree that the use of social media as a marketing tool cannot be ignored. After all, word of mouth is the number one way that people hear about events, and Facebook is the most used social media platform.
Here are some statistics, according to Facebook: The site has more than 800 million active users, more than 50 percent of active users log onto the site in any given day, and the average user has 130 friends.
The ticketing industry is one of the most misunderstood industries in America. Unfortunately, the role and function of a ticket broker is even more misunderstood. It's worth taking a minute to explain what a broker is and what services they provide.
Like many industries, ticket brokers are salesmen trying to provide a service to consumers. Each broker has their own strategies and techniques that they use to satisfy their customers. Some brokers still only do business over the phone and in person. However, the majority have adapted to the times and do a mix between online and phone sales.
When it comes to pricing ticketed events, what works? For nearly two decades, TRG Arts has answered that question for hundreds of non-profit arts and culture organizations. About four years ago, TRG also began working with a number of commercial entertainment clients, mostly Broadway productions.
Although non-profits and commercial entertainment presenters/producers serve very different missions, both face the need to get the most from every ticket sold. Maximizing revenue is frequently a life or death issue.
The mobile revolution is taking over the ticketing industry. Some may think that I am overstating it because only 2 billion mobile tickets were sold last year, according to a new study by Juniper Research.
But get ready because that same study predicts that by 2014 more than 15 billion tickets will be purchased via mobile. And I think that's a conservative estimate.
Late last month at a New Orleans Saints game, it was reported that several fans bought tickets that turned out to be counterfeit. Some came from scalpers who had as many as 20 to 25 bogus tickets. Others came from online sellers who claimed to have purchased the tickets directly from Ticketmaster's TicketExchange, where NFL tickets are bought and sold.
Obviously, any time fans have a negative ticketing experience, it is a concern. But it is also a reminder that it doesn't have to happen. Implementing a non-restrictive paperless ticketing system is the best defense against fraud and in the best interests of fans, teams, artists, venues — and even legitimate ticket brokers.
This is going to be slightly humiliating, as it has already been five months since I quit my finance job to join the sports, concerts and arts ticket industry.
Last week I had plans with friends and family to go see Eric Church perform at the Bowery Ballroom. Tickets for the show were selling for $200, but they only cost me $35. I couldn't help but take advantage of the opportunity, and I sold my tickets online. I like Eric Church, but not that much.
Twenty-two years ago, the way ticket sellers made money was to get on the phone and call other ticket sellers (brokers) to find out who had what, so they could quote some tickets to their clients. They wrote the information on a piece of paper and used something called a "rolodex." Those were the days when it was good to know "a guy" that could get you tickets to that hard-to-get-to event.
The natural progression of making that process easier through technology in conjunction with the rise of online sales was ultimately the cause of death for the "ticket broker." Much in the way the travel agent became a dying breed, the ticket broker was soon to become instinct as well, if he could not adapt and recreate himself.
During a panel at the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) conference in Phoenix last month, an industry veteran on the panel asked members of the audience how many had a person on staff whose job it was to focus on social media marketing. Only one person in the room of about 150 venue managers raised their hand.
The media has spent plenty of time describing the financial impact on NFL owners and players as a result of the current lockout. What has not made as much news is the impact a lockout would have in a broader economic sense, especially in the secondary ticket market.
Football ticket sales on the secondary market comprise a large portion of revenue that is created by this industry.