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WHERE HAVE ALL THE TICKETS GONE? Like all E-commerce related technologies, electronic ticketing is

evolving. Ticketing companies are constantly updating their software and hardware in an attempt to bring about a competitive advantage. Whether it‘s gaining efficiencies on the server side with fancy new APIs, creating new browser-based tools with HTML5, or launching feature-rich native mobile apps, companies are quickly pushing ticket- ing into the future. There‘s a trend growing every year that you may have noticed. Thermal tickets and even print-at-home tickets are be- coming obsolete. Mobile technology development is standard practice in the ticketing

world. At Etix our latest stats tell us that 30% of all Etix page views are coming from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. 15% of our ticket purchases now originate from mobile devices. I‘m sure other ticketing companies are seeing similar stats as mobile optimized purchase pages and apps have become almost ubiquitous in the tick- eting world. It is certainly keeping our developers busy. As all ticketing companies play catch up with each other, their cus-

tomers – the venues and events using their systems – get the bene- fits. Mobile apps and websites with responsive designs created to function easily on mobile browsers are here, driving ticket sales, aid- ing with ticket administration and providing ticket validation tools. Ticketing professionals and those experienced in the use of elec-

tronic ticketing technology know, online ticket delivery methods and ticket validation are extremely important to complete the cycle that starts with a purchase and ends with the customer entering the event. Paperless ticketing is a type of delivery method and validation that is gaining popularity while also stirring up controversy. When I first heard ―paperless‖ in the context of ticketing, my immediate thought was ―So what? That‘s already being done with barcodes and emails on smartphones.‖ That‘s not what I‘m referring to here. With paper- less tickets, the credit card used to purchase tickets is required to enter the event. The credit card is the ticket, just like airline kiosks at airports. Scanners are replaced with credit card readers. Paperless definitely curbs, if not eliminates, scalping and tech savvy

event producers and artists are embracing this technology. Limita- tions do exist: there‘s no way to give someone a ticket as a gift unless

you trust them with your credit card and if your event is in a reserved seat facility, an additional printer is needed to give ticket buyers their seat assignment. Lawmakers in several states have debated, and in some cases, passed legislation on the matter of paperless ticketing. Ticketmaster and Stubhub have been in the news recently as they battle each other over this technology through their lobbying activities. There‘s a great article published on April 24, 2013 on about paperless ticketing in California if you‘re interested in reading more. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology gaining major

momentum in the ticketing world right now. The RFID tags or chips come in all shapes and sizes as do the readers that track them. Re- tail stores use them for security and toll roads use them (SunPass or E-Zpass for example). At events they‘re typically found in wristbands, badges, and on ticket stock. Currently RFID is cost prohibitive, so you‘ll probably only see it at

high priced events like The Masters in Augusta, GA, South By South- west in Austin, TX, and of course Disney. Until the cost of using RFID comes down, I don‘t see it coming into widespread use at Fairs and Festivals. When it does, oh boy will you have some cool technology to work with! Imagine tracking the number of fairgoers watching the pig races or

visiting vendor booths, finding lost children anywhere on the fair- grounds in real time, and checking into Facebook with the same wrist- bands. RFID technology can store value. Fairgoers wearing RFID wrist-

bands can pre-purchase credit to use at the Fair. They can use the wristband to buy a ticket to a concert and use the same wristband as the ticket. They can buy an unlimited Midway ride pass with the wrist- band and then use the wristband to access each ride. Vendors can also incorporate the technology into their sales processes. I‘m con- vinced this technology has tons of potential for Fairs and Festivals. In closing, ticketing companies are embracing exciting technologies

to make their services work better for not only ticket buyers, but also event producers like Fairs and Festivals. My hope is that as the tech- nology improves, event producers will help push it further into the future by requesting it from their ticketing providers.

Paul Laughter; 919-653-0507;


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