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eTickets, please (goodbye paper tickets)

by Niki Tibble, Growthdeck Contributor

16 August 2018


Long gone are the days when queueing around the block for a ticket to your favourite band was as familiar as nipping to the local telephone box to announce that you’d managed to bag the last two. We now expect digital convenience more than ever before, which is why the humble paper ticket will soon be shown the back door, while the eTicketing market receives VIP treatment – making now the perfect time to get front row seats.

Tickets coming soon

Buying tickets online isn’t anything new. We’ve been booking event, travel and sport tickets online since the ‘90s and that isn’t set to change. What is changing is how those tickets are delivered.

Traditionally, those wanting to attend a local festival, visit a museum or stroll around grand properties, would buy and be sent a paper ticket. A ticket easily lost, often forgotten and regularly, and illegally, copied. The other option has been to turn up and hope there’s still space, and in many cases, pay a premium for the privilege of queueing.

Technology now offers us an attractive alternative to scrambling around trying to remember where that “I’ll keep it safe” place was, while also being a powerful step towards combating ticket fraud: the eTicket.

eTickets are purchased online via a mobile phone, tablet or desktop and downloaded into a smartphone eWallet. There they stay safe until scanned upon entry into an event or attraction. Aside from making ticketing easier, eTickets offer significant marketing, cost and security benefits and they are fast becoming the expected entry pass everywhere.

Tickets now available

Not surprisingly, the eTicket market is now booming.

As a nation, we embrace ecommerce, spending on average £1.17 million per week, and we embrace our smartphones, with 41 million users. Mobile and tablet internet usage surpassed desktop for the first time in 2016. Our phones are hubs for shopping, information, gym passes, photo albums, music and even our wallets – 48% have used a digital wallet. The global transaction value for online and mobile payments in 2017 was an astonishing $2.1 trillion. Being able to run our lives from our smartphone is not only the norm, it’s expected.

Meanwhile, the events industry is also seeing a resurgence. More brands are putting on more events and attractions, appealing to wide ranges of audiences. Gin festivals, Comi-Cons, scavenger hunts – there are over 6,000 visitor attractions in the UK and thousands upon thousands of events. 57% of event professionals said that they plan to hold more events this year than they did last year and 31% said that increased competition would have the biggest impact upon their events this year.

Combined, these two industries offer an attractive partnership. People are attending more events and are increasingly using their smartphone to do so – two-thirds of people have looked at an event on their phone in the past six months. Plus, with some SaaS ticketing solution companies now offering technology that is free to set up and simple to use, eTicketing is accessible to small and medium-sized businesses to advance from.

Limited tickets remaining

eTickets have benefits for attendees, venues and organisers, which is why event planners and venues are increasingly turning to SaaS ticketing software.

Selling where the customers are

eTickets allow customers to buy tickets when and where they want. POS, social media, tourist information websites or directly: eTicketing is the key to transforming the exclusive and elusive ticket image into something that is only a few taps away.

End-to-end customer experience

A seamless mobile experience increases customer happiness, spend and ratings. Venues and organisers can incorporate their eTicketing solution into an end-to-end mobile experience, including ticket purchase, merchandise sales, pre-event information, venue maps, live event updates, food & drink purchases and post-event hype. All from the attendee’s smartphone. It makes the experience enjoyable, spending money easier, queues smaller and event management smoother.

No more lost (or forgotten) tickets

The dreaded “I’m sure I gave the tickets to you” will be no more. eTickets are safely stored on user’s smartphones and, with people checking their phones, on average, 80 times per day, they’re hard to lose. Not only that, but smartphones have the cunning ability to remind us when we’ve got an event coming up.

Marketing opportunities

The promotional opportunities that come with eTickets are phenomenal. From buyers ‘sharing’ their ticket purchase with like-minded friends on social media, to the ability to upsell VIP packages and merchandise. Push alerts, pre-event information, live event coverage and post-event memories – welcoming the smartphones into events with open arms offers marketing levels never seen before. Digital sales also provide a wealth of data to use, analyse and benefit from.


The flexibility of eTicketing makes cross-promotion easy. Tickets are linked on tourist information sites, similar event pages and local websites; different ticket packages can be sold, including parking, food and drinks; and users can be rewarded via loyalty programmes and discount coupons.


eTickets also offer significant cost savings. No more printing and mailing. Instead, that money can be invested in improving customer experience, venue, acts and promotion, as well as saving the trees.

Tickets to buy, tickets to sell

Ticket touting is nothing new, with the secondary ticket market worth an estimated £1 billion. But pressure on industry professionals to tackle this problem is forever mounting, especially given the recent press coverage. eTickets that cannot be printed are a powerful step towards fighting illegal ticket sales and protecting consumers from fake or inflated tickets.

eTickets also provide increased security at events – with real-time information on attendance numbers and which seats are empty, as well as offering a better chance to identify and locate previously misbehaved attendees.

More tickets released

By the end of next year, mobile tickets are expected to account for more than half of ticket transactions on digital platforms, making the eTicketing market extremely lucrative. Plus, with the following areas of expansion, eTicketing software providers definitely won’t be quiet:

  • Wearable ticketing – smartwatches, clothes, implants – the options are endless but not unforeseeable, with these eTicket purchases expected to exceed 14 billion by the end of the year, accounting for 54% of ticket sales.
  • Chatbot integration and voice search – it’s estimated that tickets bought via a chatbot service will reach $6 billion by 2022, and with consumers already au fait asking Alexa to turn on the lights, it won’t be long before she’s buying our eTickets, too.
  • Beacon technology – bringing eTickets onto the lock screen when attendees are within a certain proximity of the venue will reduce queues and place less pressure on event staff.
  • AR and VR integration – experiencing the venue before picking your seats and attending an event when you’re in a different country: it’s coming.

Sold out

Experts anticipate that the number of digital ticket users will exceed 1.8 billion by 2020, with mobile near-field communication accounting for 215 million. And with the wealth of benefits attached to eTicketing, it’s not hard to see why eTickets will become the standard, simple and obvious way to attend events, venues and attractions of all sizes. Goodbye paper tickets and lighters, hello smartphones.

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