By Talmadge Harper

In her 30 years in the entertainment industry, Linda Deckard, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Venues Today magazine has watched as venues have gained influence throughout the world of ticketing, and her publication has been reporting from the front lines of the segment. She recently agreed to speak with during which she offered her insights on where venue operations are headed. How influential do you feel the role of venues play in the current ticket industry?

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Deckard: Extremely influential. Without the venues, there is no ticket industry. Ticketing is not only about generating revenue; it’s key to customer service. The venue has to be certain the customer has a good experience and gets value for money paid. If the experience is a bad one, the customer seeks compensation from the venue. . . It seems as if venues are increasingly getting caught in the middle between Ticketmaster and StubHub, etc. What are venue operators telling you about this situation, and what are they doing about it?

Deckard: The Internet has changed just about every business model, including ticketing. Venue managers, like any businesspeople, are watching carefully and assimilating best practices as quickly as they can. Auctions, resales and packages are becoming part of the primary ticket marketplace. The Ticketmaster/StubHub controversy is contractual and perceptual and will most likely be settled in court. How quickly are venues embracing the FlashSeats model and other forms of electronic ticketing?

Deckard: Paperless ticketing is the wave of the future and while only a few venues are on board in the U.S., it can only grow. In fact, venues have to move to paperless to control the process, the data, the total experience, and to benefit from potential upsales and packaging. According to your magazine, House of Blues and other venues are increasing their branding and marketing efforts toward children. What are the benefits of this movement, and what are the disadvantages?

Deckard: Family show producers like Feld Entertainment and VEE Corp. have long been the backbone of the arena business, providing annual, multiple-date bookings that generate revenue, bring families to the venue and groom future customers. It is business you can count on, whatever the fluctuations in the touring market that year. Performing arts centers are on board with educational offerings and theater-size family shows. Stadiums promote family ballgames. It makes sense for clubs to tap into a little of that security if they can massage the image and brand to ensure the family time is for the kids, not for the adults. It’s a tightrope, but there are acts that can help make it happen today.

Learn more about the Insomniac web browser, designed for ticket resale professionals Baseball has moved toward smaller stadiums over the past 15 years. What are some of the other trends that you’re seeing, specifically as they relate to sports leagues and facilities?

Deckard: The quality and equality of the experience seems to be a major concern. While there are always high rollers and VIP packages, sports leagues are doing more for the general populace. The new stadiums pay more attention to everyone’s comfort and participation, from climate control to seating to concessions offerings and parking. Ticketmaster has been re-exerting its dominance in the primary ticketing market, but the secondary market seems wide open. What will separate the successful secondary companies from the pack? Do you anticipate a lot of consolidation, and if so, who?

Deckard: Since Ticketmaster is in the process of acquiring Paciolan, consolidation is obviously underway again. But there is certainly room in the marketplace for other secondary ticketing companies and there are more and more to choose from. The successful ones will have strong, reliable, dependable technology, probably aimed at enabling the venue to handle sales. The key is good technology.