Ticketing is a complex industry and it isn’t going to change overnight. It’s also quite a broken industry; it’s suffered from a lack of investment in good technology and from broken business models resulting in issues such as ticket touts. It’s also suffering from missed opportunities. We’re not selling commodities like other industries but unique, one-off and sometimes life-changing experiences but we could be doing a far better job of selling them than we are at the moment.
There’s been lots of interest and investment recently in the consumer-facing end of ticketing – and this is a positive step forward. The likes of EventBrite, SeatGeek and TicketScript are doing great things when it comes to improving the customer experience across a range of channels and in all sorts of different ways.
But there’s very little focus on the underlying systems that sit at the heart of it all and that make the world of entertainment go round. In reality, these systems are often outdated and under-invested in. But critically – it’s these underlying systems that need to change if we’re going to solve some of the fundamental problems our industry faces: ticket touting, bots, artists and venues whose relationships to their audiences are severed by third parties and tickets sold for too little and for too much to name just a few.
When I read this article by Jack Groetzinger (founder of SeatGeek) on TechCrunch recently, his vision of an open network of ticketing platforms, connected to one another with developers and software providers solving the problems of the industry together really resonated with me, as it’s something we’ve talked about a lot at Spektrix. He’s right - closed walls aren’t sustainable in the long term. The problems they create will stifle the industry by strangling the possibilities for connecting audiences with artists, performers, and venues - the very people that software providers like us are supposed to be helping connect to fans and audiences.
The long-term future of ticketing lies in global technology platforms that interconnect and can provide the industry with a better way of doing business, maximising their revenues, automating where possible and ultimately providing audiences with the best experiences from the purchase, to the visit, to the follow-up communication.
That’s why at Spektrix, we’re in the process of re-architecting and rebuilding some of our backend systems so that we’re prepared to take on this huge challenge.
The next step in this evolution is to allow any Spektrix system to buy directly from any other Spektrix system – configurable by both sides at the click of a button. That’s the point when an agent might decide to build their entire operation on the Spektrix platform, rather than maintaining their own platform and infrastructure. Live sales off the plan are already happening to a significant extent in the West End, whereby ticketing agents are able to integrate with a number of different ticketing systems to sell directly from their seating plans. Given enough flexibility, they’d ultimately be able to do everything they can currently but while focussing on their core business of marketing and customer engagement, rather than technology.
Spektrix as a platform
At the moment we deliver Software as a Service (SaaS) to venues. Eventually, we want to be delivering Platform as a Service (PaaS) as well.
If that’s something you’re not familiar with, think of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, which allow third-party developers to build their own apps which then run on Apple and Google’s platforms. In the B2B world, this is similar to what Salesforce did with their App Cloud a number of years ago. We want Spektrix to provide an infrastructure that will let third parties develop their own great functionalities without having to build their own platforms and once they’ve done this for one client, they can then leverage that work to apply it to other people. We hope Spektrix will be the underlying platform that powers all these new exciting things, however, we know that the industry is far too big and complex for us to do it all.
We already do something similar to this, by providing an API that allows third parties to integrate with the Spektrix platform – the most common use of this being venue websites whose feed of data is typically provided through an integration to our API rather than the user having to enter it manually. In the future, we hope venues would be able to run their websites on our platform instead, rather than having to run the apps and websites they develop on their own infrastructure.
Companies such as web developers who don’t specialise in the infrastructure requirements that come with scalability (such as multi-tenancy) shouldn’t have to. They should be allowed to focus on the area they’re experts in: customer experience and design.
We and the wider ticketing industry are a long way off from all this, but it’s clear that there’s a need for change. We believe it’s our responsibility and that of the wider ticketing industry to think big for the future – even if some of this is 15 years down the line. Change won’t happen in a hurry, but we’re up for the challenge ahead.
Spektrix is the leading provider of cloud-based ticketing, marketing and fundraising software for the arts. Founded in London in 2007, Spektrix now helps more than 250 organisations in the UK, Ireland, US and Canada, to provide a simple and intuitive ticketing journey to end customers. Sophisticated, real-time analytics and marketing tools allow arts marketers to be truly responsive to audiences, delivering targeted offers that recognise the needs of individual theatregoers. Customers include London’s Royal Court Theatre, The Juilliard School, New York Theatre Workshop, Sheffield Theatres, and the Bristol Old Vic. Please visit the Spektrix website