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‘Tis the time for mobile-only tickets to make their way into the events industry! And if you thought this was decades away from happening, you thought wrong. So this week, we’re doing something a little different. The Event Tech Podcast is going to start bringing you interesting news out there and our hosts will be discussing the ins and outs, the pros and cons, live. And the first topic originated from an article published on The Verge about mobile-only tickets. Curious?

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It’s exactly what it sounds like. Moving away from the good old paper form tickets, all the way to technology only. But what does this mean for events? What are the good things? And what isn’t quite as great? Will this be the norm from now on? All of this and a little bit more coming your way on today’s episode of Event Tech Podcast. Hosted by the always chipper and amazing Will Curran and Brandt Krueger, this is something you don’t want to miss. Press play, we’re getting techy!

Click here for the full audio transcription.

mobile-only tickets

The Path To Mobile-Only Tickets

It’s not unheard of for an event to go fully digital on a specific aspect. And while mobile-only tickets aren’t exactly brand new, the concept of this being the only accepted admission mode is quite a novelty. However, Will has had previous experiences with events that decided to try something new and leave paper behind.

A Cashless Experience

“I talked about my experience in C2 Montreal in the past. Where it was a cashless system. Everything was based on the click, mobile tap system, that was how you paid”, recalls Will. The idea was solid, but the execution fell flat. “I went to pay for food and their system didn’t work. And long story short, I ended up just being like, “Well, I’m hungry. What do we have to do to fix this?”. So the vendor just was like, “Take the food, come back to me in an hour. I trust you”. He had to play this like old school system of, I trust that you’re going to do the right thing. And yeah, luckily, obviously it worked out for him because I’m a trustable person, but what if I wasn’t?”. Which brings up a very valid point.

Mobile-Only Tickets Fighting The Good Fight

“So the idea, it mentions in here that the QR code actually doesn’t appear until two hours before the event. So there’s no way to go in and pick away at the QR code and figure out the details and maybe figure out a way to counterfeit it”, explains Brandt. “You can’t just print out the ticket and then sell it to somebody. You literally can’t get the QR code until a couple of hours before the event. So really, really tuning in to this idea of, we want to make sure that the person we sell it to, is the person that comes in”.

This means, of course, that you can’t resell the ticket. “But you can transfer it between devices apparently. So if you buy one for a friend, you can send one of the tickets over to them, but that person also has to have a DICE account. And so, everything goes through DICE, whether it’s refunded, or return tickets, or all of those types of things”, he adds. Will agrees on the issue of ticket scalping, saying that it “can really, really hurt ticket sales” and “they look bad upon the venue, or the artist, and everything like that. So the more they can reduce it, the better”.

Are Mobile-Only Tickets The Future?

“As we move toward this mobile-first world, it’s interesting to see where it’s leading”, says Brandt. “You and I have talked about in our connectivity sessions that festivals were honestly leading the way. When it came to just things like providing charging places for people’s phones, for attendees. And so, it’s interesting to see this play being moved by a festival. Are festivals now going to lead the charge, just like they have been with attendee charging? Just like they have been with cashless payments, just like maybe now they are with ticketing? Is this going to start to expand beyond and really push this forward?”.

Will definitely believes so. “I think there’s no reason why we have to print things off anymore, why you have to show up with a physical ticketing sort of way”, he says.

mobile-only tickets

Technology, Technology…

There’s a very relevant concern when it comes to mobile-only tickets. “If you lose your phone or break your phone, or let’s say for example you run out of charge like right before the concert starts, what can you do to get your ticket?”, Will wonders. “And they say you can just show your official ID and there’ll be like a door list. But I think that it’s one of these things that also brings up the point though is, what happens for somebody who isn’t necessarily technologically savvy? Is this now going to create a new line at the box office that’s going to be longer for people who forget, don’t have the app, or don’t want to download the app?”.

Assumptions Can Hurt You

Brandt brings up that “I worry about is the digital haves and the digital have-nots. Now I don’t know what the target market is for the Primavera Sound Festival. I don’t know if it’s a high-end festival or if it’s the kind of thing that anybody can afford. But you’re taking a pretty big leap there. Assuming that everyone that wants to come to your festival, or at least the vast majority of people that want to come to your event is going to be mobile-first”.

“And so, anytime you start to make assumptions about your audience”, he continues. “Assume, and all of the things that go along with that phrase, you run the risk of alienating a portion of your audience. There may be a certain segment of your audience that doesn’t want to bring their phone to an event. They’re not the ones that are taking selfies, and for whatever reason, they want to just be there and enjoy the show”.

Learning To Go With The Flow

Will believes that mobile-only tickets becoming the norm is an inevitability. “There’s no way that we’re going to keep paper tickets around”, he says. But as technology evolves, we’re faced with new challenges and problems. As Brandt brings up, “as bots and AI get more advanced, that’s where they’re seeing the problems with scalping. And so you’ve basically got bots that are going up and buying tickets as if they were individual users and individual people. How do you fight against something like that?”.

To Resell Or Not To Resell?

“But, ultimately too, it’s like, we want to get fans in front of artists and allow them to see that, and not make it purely about gouging people on prices. It also brings up a really solid point though too that, what does that reselling market now look like, once there is no ability to resell tickets?”, says Will. “This article talks about Twickets. Which is trying to create a marketplace that allows basically to resell tickets but has a cap on the price. So the idea is like, let’s create a place that you can do it, but let’s not screw people over necessarily”.

Brandt agrees. “We’re going to start seeing more of these authorized resellers. We’re already seeing that with sports trying to curb the street side resale, rather than going down to the stadium and hoping that you can get a ticket”, he says. “I do like that idea though that maybe the artist or whoever can put a cap on the maximum amount that you can sell it for. I think that’s an interesting way to deal with the situation when it comes to scalping”.

Where Will Mobile-Only Tickets Take Us?

In the article, there’s “this idea that we’re running into when it comes to hotels, when it comes to airfare when it comes to all kinds of things. And that is whether you’re breaking out the fees or you’re bundling the fees”, explains Brandt. “And so, apparently this DICE company got into a little bit of hot water because they were bundling in the fees.

“And so, the price that you saw online is not at all the price that you wind up paying. So it’s an interesting discussion. I think there’s right and wrong on all sides of that. As a result, the tickets on DICE are looking a lot more expensive than a lot of the other ticket brokers”. Definitely something to think about!


“Further things to discuss, let us know out there, how do you come down on that?”, asks Brandt. “Do you feel like hotels, airlines, festivals, do you think the price is the price and it includes all taxes and fees, or do you like to see that breakdown?”. Plus, what are your final thoughts on mobile-only tickets? Let us know and make sure to tune in next week for more exciting tech talk!


Pocket Casts

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How Not Having Data Backups Will Ruin Your Event


Primavera Sound festival switches to mobile-only tickets to combat bots and scalping – Article

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Brandt Krueger

Author Brandt Krueger

With over 20 years experience in the meetings and events industry, Brandt has spoken at industry events and seminars all over the world, been published in numerous magazines and websites, and teaches public and private classes on meeting and event technology and production. He provides freelance technical production services, and is the owner of Event Technology Consulting.

More posts by Brandt Krueger
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