Roboticket ticket strategy gateway to safety



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Ian Sanders, Commercial Director, Roboticket, UK, tells ‘Coliseum’ in an exclusive at the Coliseum Online Week EUROPE Worldwide – held in March 2021 – how COVID-19 has thrown the gauntlet to the sports venue industry – just like any other sectors – and the ticketing industry is also facing the heat. He also provides particularly useful insights into how Roboticket ensures that fans’ ingress as well as egress from the stadium is a safe and secure one through its ‘multilayered ticketing policy’ which boast several ‘safety gates’. He also talks about ticket challenges and how to seat fans in the stadium, some of the challenges, solutions, and opportunities the sports ticketing going forward.
 

Defining Roboticket

Ian Sanders begins by informing that Roboticket has transformed sports ticketing via its digital, flexible, Web-based, Application Programming Interface (API)-driven ticketing platform. Roboticket presently provide ticketing services to more than 30 professional sports organizations in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Austria, Finland, Gibraltar (British Overseas Territory), and Brazil.

Stated Sanders, “We are a sports ticketing technology provider specializing in digital transformation. We have been around for eight years – two years in developing the platform and six years in offering it to sports clubs. We now have over 30 users in seven countries including Palmeiras Brazil (Brazilian professional football club based in the City of São Paulo), F.C. Copenhagen (professional Danish football club in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Cardiff City (professional association football club based in Cardiff, Wales (UK). We have not lost a single client to a competitive tender since we started.”
 

In brief:

  • Roboticket is a ticketing system provider 100 percent focused on professional sport;
  • It is a six-year-old company with stable financial position currently providing primary ticketing services for more than 30 clubs in Denmark, Poland, Finland, Germany, Austria, UK, and Brazil; and
  • Roboticket has not lost a client to a competitive tender in the last six years.

 

Why use Roboticket?

Sanders puts in, “We vastly improve your ticketing operations by creating cost-savings and new revenue opportunities. And we do this by simplifying and automating the ticketing process for both the fans and your staff. This involves digitalizing as much as possible while allowing for the different demographics of your fan base and this, in turn, enables you to stay ahead of the game with a platform that will continue to be enhanced.”
 

In brief:

  • We build and execute solutions which vastly improve your ticketing operation making every event predictable, controllable and financially accurate;
  • We simplify and automate; and
  • We help clubs digitally transform their ‘fan ecosystem’ without losing focus on the different fan groups.

 

Post-COVID environment

Since coronavirus struck the planet in March 2020, the world can no longer breathe easy, literally. Anywhere that people go, COVID-appropriate behavior is expected and it is no different with the sports venue sector.

To this Sanders said, “So, as we know, we have experienced an unprecedented situation over the last year. Although vaccines are making an impact, there is still likely to be a transition period where social distancing and most probably fans health verification will be required and may continue to be required for some time to come, particularly as we move back into the winter months. Indeed, we have seen recent announcements underlining this uncertainty with rock band such as ‘The Killers’ moving their 2021 dates back to 2022.”
 

Digital tool

He opined that to sail through the coronavirus storm, digital transformation is the need of the hour – “So, what are the key tools that we can use to help us through this? In my view, its digital transformation and this will be driven by the official club app (speaking in a generic way). The official app is where fans have engaged and watched matches through those long months of lockdown and its now firmly their gateway to their favourite team. But the app is also enabling a host of new fan engagement and commercial opportunities. For example, fan data will be significantly increased by the requirement of every fan with a ticket to be identified in case of new COVID-19 infections. And digital adoption by fans is here to stay and will have changed fans behaviour and expectations too.”
 

On guard

Pointing out that fans today are a COVID-wary lot, Sanders observed, “In a post-COVID world, fans in stadia no longer want to be in crowded concourses, they want at seat pre-ordering and they want to know how long the queue is to the nearest toilet and, of course, they want their tickets on their mobile device.”
 

Club app benefits

 

‘App’le of fans eye:

  • Communications tool;
  • Digital wallet;
  • Contactless ticketing; and
  • At seat ordering.

 

Back and forth

Sanders maintained that in a post-COVID world, it was very important to ensure that fans’ journey to the stadia and back home is a safe one – from the health perspective – and therein lies the challenge and the club app comes to the rescue – “The obvious challenge is how we get fans in and out of stadia. There are a number of options where ticketing could help. So, for example, including time slots where entry and setting out an external parameter for ticket checks to enable a most staged entry into the stadium. Again, the club app will be key in providing realtime public transport information as well as capturing data about fans journey plans to help plan future matches.”

He added, “In the United States, at seat ordering is common but lesser in the United Kingdom. We need to look at how we deliver this. This could be either at seat delivery but that does have challenges in some stadia or informing fans their order is available to a particular pickup point. Again, there may be a reluctance to queue in congested areas so information on queue status will be important too.
 

Social distancing challenges:

  • Stadium ingress/egress;
  • Movement within the stadium; and
  • Seat spacing.

 

Ticket challenges and how to seat fans in the stadium in a COVID environment

 

Limitation of fixed pods

 

Seating configuration

The most common approach to social distancing is to sell tickets to fans without seat selection. So, by price, for example. And then this allows you to group orders into COVID-secure pods.
 

Then this comes with several disadvantages:

 

Flip side:

  • It’s a very poor fan experience;
  • The fans do not really know where they are going to be sitting; and
  • The process involves several stages, its normally laborious and manual in almost all ticketing systems and clearly prone to error.

 

The alternative is an artificial intelligence (AI) approach:

 

AI to the rescue:

  • This would allow seat selection by the fans;
  • Enabling a far better fan experience;
  • Making the process automatic while making better usage of available capacity; and
  • Keeping fans safe.

 

Lech Poznań Case Study

 

COVID-safe seat

Lech Poznań is a Polish professional football club based in Poznań (Poland) and currently competing in the Ekstraklasa, the nation’s highest division.

The 42,837-capacity Poznań Stadium in Poznań, Poland is an association football stadium and serves as the residence of Lech Poznań. It has a league capacity of 43,269. The stadium was originally built between 1968 and 1980.

Said Sanders, “Last year, the Poznań Stadium had to operate just under 50 percent of its usual capacity of 43,000. The example here is a local derby against Warta Poznań. Roboticket collaborated with the club to accommodate the social distancing measures required in the stadium and enabled the club to build a flexible match by match strategy for ticket sales. The club was able to segment fans and enable closed sales phases for season ticket holders as well as allowing supporters to sit together if they live together.”

He added, “However, we were also able to offer via artificial intelligence COVID-safe seat purchase from a live seating plan and following each transaction the ticketing system automatically created a buffer surrounding each group. That buffer could be varied in different areas of the stadium. For example, the buffer in older stands or hospitality areas or entire stadiums could be changed or if government legislation changed. The buffer can be increased or decreased instantly – or changed to different shapes as well. Using AI, our clients were able to increase ticket sales by 18 percent in comparison to the standard chessboard setup used by other venues.
 

Roboticket AI in action

Buying tickets through Roboticket’ AI ticket strategy, maximises the available capacity.

The pandemic was declared in March 2020 and Roboticket deployed this technology to clubs the following month. That’s just one month from development to deployment.
 

Gibraltar Football Association Case Study

Roboticket was also working with the Gibraltar Football Association to provide ticketing services for their FIFA World Cup™ 2022 Qualifier vs. The Netherlands held in the month of March 2021.

The Gibraltar Football Association or also Gibraltar FA is the governing body for Gibraltarian football and futsal. It was formed as the Gibraltar Civilian Football Association in 1895, changing to its current name in later years. It is one of the oldest football associations in the world.
 

Foolproof to the core

Remarked Sanders, “We enabled fans to enter a ballot subject to various post-health checks and although the Gibraltar Football Association did not use Roboticket’s real-time check, we did have the facility to call an external database with the fan details and receive a positive or negative verification much like we do for some leagues for banned fans. Ballot winners were then able to purchase tickets from an AI-enabled seating plan, however, fans were still required to have a further negative COVID result on matchday. As you would expect, all tickets will be delivered digitally but they will only be enabled for entry if the fan has verified that they have had a negative test.”
 

Different pricing models

 

F.C. Copenhagen Season Tickets and Subscriptions 2020-2021

Sanders pointed out that with the COVID-19 onslaught which is still on, “Social distancing and health checking is just one part of how ticketing will change. Digital ticketing is no longer a nice to have, it is an imperative – both from a cost-saving and from an environmental point of view. We believe that clubs will also need to be more creative with pricing.”
 

Ingenious pricing methods which clubs should adopt:

  • Netflix-style consumption model which appeal to the young fans;
  • Twelve-monthly subscription for season tickets;
  • Income to come in throughout the year; and
  • Flexible multimatch ticketing options halfway between a season ticket and a regular ticket; and
  • Fans should be given the opportunity to resell their tickets.

 
Sanders concluded by affirming, “COVID-19 has brought about a 360 degree change to the world and with this there has been a change in fans’ expectations too.”

In a COVID-struck planet, fans would like to walk into stadia tension-free, with no frowns on their foreheads and as Sanders pointed out, fans would like their tickets on their mobile device, at seat ordering, no lengthy queues for them and everything is touchless and contactless and it is the need of the hour that venues and various ticketing firms rise to the occasion à la Roboticket.

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