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Paperless ticketing – is the paper ticket dead?

The ticketing industry has recently been debating whether paper tickets are dead and if the industry is ready to go paperless. The recent debate has been lively, with different parties holding strongly opposing views.

In Ticket Zone’s opinion, ticketing will never go completely paperless. It’s not a matter of whether the paper ticket will disappear, but rather if the ticketing industry is ready, or fully appreciates the potential disruption to the current business model. The ticketing industry is fragmented and technically complex and the argument goes far beyond the convenience of simply generating a paper ticket, a virtual ticket or both.

Barriers to paperless ticketing

As one of the few ticket agent trade desks in the UK, Ticket Zone has observed a number of indicators that may impact on the widespread adoption of paperless tickets.

  1. Firstly, there has been a resistance by promoters and venues for ticket agents to print e-tickets. If venues allow paperless ticketing they relinquish a certain amount of control – subsequently, the chances of errors and customer services issues increase. The current procedure of paper tickets being printed and issued by the venue provides another ‘safety check’ within the entire process.

  2. Secondly, the technology platforms and API’s of many ticket agents and affiliates is not only diverse, they are - on the whole - not sufficiently joined up to trade in paperless tickets. For example, how do customers share tickets in a group? What security features are inbuilt to prevent unauthorized access?

  3. Thirdly, a paper ticket still remains a controlled and proven media to venues, allowing customer access without any additional technology expenditure, especially during a period of funding cuts.

Consumers and paperless tickets

In addition, we don’t believe consumers will support a purely paperless ticket. Instead, souvenir tickets will remain a valuable and integral part of the customer experience. There will always be a segment of people who want a souvenir ticket as a personal memento.

Physical tickets can be easily passed on to other members of their party, or to someone as a gift. Or if there is a power cut, scanner malfunction, dead battery on a mobile phone, the ‘old school’ physical ticket can still provide access.

The future of ticketing

Paperless will undoubtedly become important but there are a number of challenges yet to be overcome before it becomes pervasive and even then it will only add to a mix of ticket options.

We believe that paperless and paper tickets will co-exist for the foreseeable future in mainstream ticketing for a number of security, commercial, technology, demographic and emotional reasons.

The paper ticket is not dead: long live the paper ticket!

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