AXS CEO Bryan Perez and Ticketmaster President & COO Amy Howe kicked off the first day of the AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium yesterday, detailing how they have adapted to changes brought on by the pandemic. Howe said within the first weeks of the pandemic, they “had more event changes than we had seen within the last decade.” One of their first tasks was to create a work-from-home system and from there, the tasks included building out new products and automating refund policies. Howe: “One of the most encouraging stats as we work through this, as we all look for some hope and optimism right now, is that at least globally, for us, 86% of the fans are keeping their tickets. Even if that event is not going to play off until well into 2021.” Perez said coordination was the “most challenging impact” he faced initially. Perez: “Preparing ... for an unprecedented amount of refunds, whether they were automated for cancellations or requested for rescheduling, that was not going to be able to take place under the way we used to do it. ... It’s a very manual process. We really had to spin up a lot of automated processes.” He added, “Some of the concepts and ideas from that came from conversations I was having with some of our peers at Ticketmaster. ... But it did take a while just to prepare ourselves to be able to do this.”
Below are some of the highlights from the rest of the conversation with Perez on Howe:
*Howe, on working with venues on new capacity limits: “We’re working ... to reset those manifests. So, depending on what your local jurisdiction allows, if they allow 20,000 or 5,000 ... we give you the ability to reset those manifests."
*Howe, on venue experiences changing: “All of that data that we’ve been collecting and aggregating over the years becomes even more important.”
*Perez, on the importance of ticketing data: “All of the things that we’ve been trying to do in terms of personalized experiences, and dynamic pricing, and really understanding the customer, this is going to dramatically accelerate that because we’re going to be forced to unify all those touch points. And the benefit of that is we’re going to be able to see the data and really understand the consumer better.”
*Perez, on how the pandemic has impacted the technology of ticketing: “This is going to accelerate that transition away from the hard ticket or the paper printed out PDF. … The public policy and the business policies are aligning toward this objective.”
*Howe on contactless payments and tickets: “Contactless is this year. It’s no longer the future. ... Teams that traditionally had been resisting it because they didn’t want to take away that hard stock for the season-ticket member, the commemorative tickets, they’re going all in, and they’re going in for the right reasons -- for safety and for bringing those fans back.”
*Perez, on the older demographics who fought against ticketing modernization being vulnerable amid the pandemic: “Those are exactly the ones that are going to make the transition the quickest.”
*Perez, on the level of optimism among sports consumers: “When you get to things like hockey or basketball, where the in-stadium experience and arena experience is a little more intense … we’ll start to see those people come back pretty quickly once we get the all clear.”
*Howe, on the excitement among fans for to see live sports: “That demand is there, and we’ve all been away from it far too long."