A growing body of research shows that consumers increasingly prefer more flexible travel plans. New generations, pioneering new habits in many areas such as consumption, business life and daily basics, expect the ability to change their schedules, and event operators should be paying attention to the growing trend.
“The demand is there. People want to travel again, and they are becoming more flexible and spontaneous in their planning,” Kayak CEO Steve Hafner told Fortune. “We’re seeing more people book at the last minute, due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, which will likely continue through the first half of ”.
This desire for flexibility and spontaneity aren’t limited to travel choices. Millennial consumers across the world have experienced economic difficulties; many faced unemployment during the economic downturn shortly after their college years, and again suffered from the financial impact of the pandemic. They have also grown accustomed to being able to quickly change plans as they wish and without any financial cost, from airplane tickets to hair appointments, as more and more industries have adopted flexibility as a core feature with the younger consumer in mind.
If we evaluate these trends in terms of the ticket resale market, we can see why the increasing deployment of consumer right-shredding mobile-only ticket platforms such as Ticketmaster’s “Safetix” system has never been embraced despite being touted as ideal for a mobile-first world. Actions like those weaponizing the system at a Black Keys concert become infamous. Consumers who had purchased valid tickets for the event through resale marketplaces were then denied entry because they had been provided screenshots of the tickets when event organizers used the “safetix” system to strip the ability of the tickets to be transferred to anyone else. Hundreds were stranded outside of the venue, despite having purchased valid tickets.
More recently, consumers have run into issues when these systems restrict transfer or resale, leaving some in binds related to COVID – either they test positive and find out they can’t go anymore, only to realize their right to transfer or resell tickets is shut out by the ticketing system, or that they are no longer comfortable attending a show if case numbers get bad, but their right to do anything besides lose whatever they paid on the tickets they can’t use is shut off.
“I bought my mom tickets to Andrea Bocelli, and then the AZ governor BANNED mask requirements,” tweeted @MuellerSheWrote in one recent example among many. “Now @TMFanSupport @Ticketmaster refuses to give me a refund or even a credit, and they WONT let me sell them! I just have to eat the hundreds of dollars or risk my parents’ lives? WTF”
I bought my mom tickets to Andrea Bocelli, and then the AZ governor BANNED mask requirements. Now @TMFanSupport @Ticketmaster refuses to give me a refund or even a credit, and they WONT let me sell them! I just have to eat the hundreds of dollars or risk my parents’ lives? WTF
— Mueller, She Wrote (@MuellerSheWrote) January 28, 2022
According to a Forbes survey, generation Z consumers do extensive online research before purchasing. Their pragmatism leads them to explore and evaluate various options before deciding on a product. The Alpha generation, now between 0-10 years old, will likely be the most educated generation of all time, thanks to the increased access to knowledge through technology.
As stated in an analysis published on parenting.firstcry.com, most Alphas tend to be challenging by nature. They tend to be more individualistic and therefore less predictable. But if trends continue through, the long-term outlook on the use of restrictive ticketing systems and the consumer sentiment that would entail is deeply troubling for rights-holders.
Consumers are showing their preference for more freedom, not less. And with pressure on what many call monopolistic behavior related to mobile-only ticketing technology on one side, and consumer preference against it on the other, it is increasingly looking like a non-winning long-term game plan for those looking to maintain relevance for consumers beyond the aging baby boomer and gen X cohorts that are a little more tolerable of restrictions.