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Volume 22 No. 32
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Paciolan’s approach to mobile ticketing attracts colleges

Tap-and-go technology is making it easier to complete purchases, unlock a door, ride a city bus or, now, go to a college football game.

Getting in and out of the stadium expeditiously and orderly has long been a chief complaint for fans, especially students who want to get to general admission sections to get the best seats as quickly as possible.

The company says its contactless system offers fans a faster way through the gate.
Photo: paciolan

Paciolan is working with 11 college programs this season on a contactless ticketing system that speeds up the process of getting students through the gate. (see editor’s note at bottom)

The students receive the tickets via text or email and save them to an Apple or Google wallet. Some schools send out tickets the week of the game; others sent out all of the tickets before the season.

When the ticket holder approaches the gate with the ticket on his or her phone screen, an attendant uses a handheld ticket reader that instantly detects the ticket through near field communication (NFC), similar to a credit card or a key fob. Ticket holders hardly break stride on their way through the gate.

Trying it out

The 11 schools that are using Paciolan’s contactless ticketing systems for student admission:

Georgia Tech
Michigan State
N.C. State
■ Ole Miss
■ Pittsburgh
■ Purdue
■ Rutgers
■ Stanford
■ Virginia

The system avoids the setbacks associated with using a bar code, which can be temperamental to read based on sunlight, a cracked screen or a lack of Wi-Fi.

E.J. Liao, Paciolan’s vice president of product management, said several schools already are making plans to use the technology at other venues across campus.

The University of Virginia started the season using contactless ticketing with its students. The process was so much easier and efficient that the Cavaliers, three games into their home schedule, decided to make it available to all of their fans throughout the stadium.

The other 10 schools — Baylor, Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers and Stanford — are using the technology only for their student tickets for now.

“We’ve used our students almost like a beta group because they’re the most tech-savvy, which is good for critical feedback,” said Ben Smith, Pitt’s assistant athletic director for ticket operations and sales. “Honestly, it’s gone better than we imagined.” 

So far most of Paciolan’s college clients have been content to use the system only for student ticketing.
Photo: paciolan

The NFL began rolling out this type of ticketing technology last season with its partner, Ticketmaster. Pitt shares Heinz Field with the Steelers, so Smith and his ticketing team with the Panthers saw firsthand how the contactless system moved fans through the gates.  

Ticketmaster introduced it to the college space this season as part of long-term extensions at Missouri and Penn State. The deals with the Tigers and Nittany Lions go across all of the ticketed venues at the schools. 

“I went into it with some heartburn on the day of the game, but came out of it feeling really good about it,” Pitt’s Smith said. “l was surprised at how seamless it was.” 

Paciolan’s system was introduced to its clients over the summer and the 11 early adopters for this season either raised their hand or were selected based on their history of trying new technologies. 

School officials said efficiency at the gate was one of three reasons they wanted to try contactless ticketing. The others were increased protection against fraud and an enhanced ability to identify the people in the seats and market to them.

Photo: paciolan

“The key, the way I look at it, is fraud prevention and the protection it allows for fans,” said Colin Hargis, N.C. State’s senior associate AD for marketing and ticket services. “You’re eliminating the ways in which a ticket can be manipulated. You’re not dealing with a barcode. You just add the ticket to your wallet.”

Schools do not incur any incremental fees to implement Paciolan’s system, although they might have to buy more handheld ticket readers or purchase updated software. Pitt, for example, uses 196 readers at Heinz Field. N.C. State has closer to 100 at Carter-Finley Stadium, Hargis said.

Paciolan created most of the technology for the system internally, with some help from Apple Wallet and Google Pay to integrate their mobile wallet applications.

The California firm, owned by Learfield IMG College, has seen significant growth since Dec. 31 when its parent companies merged — 65 software developers have been added this year, enabling Paciolan to move much faster on trendy technologies.

Editor’s note: Stanford University was added to this version of the report, bringing to 11 the number of college programs with Paciolan.