Acquired.com recently attended the Ticketing Business Forum 2021 at the Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. Following an insightful couple of days of keynote speakers and networking, our Head of Partnerships, Grant Evans, gives his thoughts on the challenges that continue to affect the ticketing and events sector and the part that payments innovation is playing in aiding an industry that is fighting to get back on its feet following its most difficult hour.

Despite the ongoing challenges that the Covid 19 pandemic continues to cause for the sector, it was very apparent that all ticketing businesses across a multitude of product and service deliverables have rallied around each other to ensure that there is still a ticketing industry left as and when we finally see the end of the ongoing lockdowns and restrictions. This was clearly identified by the judges of the ‘Ticketing Business of the Year’ award, which was given to LEIF (Live Entertainment Industry Forum) for delivering the power of collective lobbying for both industry financial support and reopening the live entertainment industry safely.

The stark reality facing the sector is that many of the skilled ticketing professionals that previously worked in ticketing and events simply haven’t returned to the sector; whether that be due to early retirement, fear of job security returning to a sector that could once again be forced to close as new variants arise, or indeed the fact that a little thing called Brexit also happened to happen over the past two years, closing the door voluntarily and involuntarily to skilled workers from the EU that previously made up a sizeable proportion of the ticketing and event sectors overall workforce.

So, what part can payments innovation bring to the table in order to assist in areas where staffing shortages continue to exist. The most interesting and somewhat surprising re-birth of a 90’s phenomenon was the relaunch of the humble QR code during the midst of the covid pandemic and this time it looks like they are here to stay. Many ticketing platforms have returned to the QR code for stadium and event access, as well as covid vaccination status confirmations in some cases (albeit with some difficulty, given the restrictive nature of some of the government technology that has been rolled out in this area, which hasn’t helped platforms). The QR codes help to reduce paper ticket waste, potential germ spread of covid and allow for unmanned turnstiles to be utilised for stadium and event access.

A key area highlighted at this year’s event was the rise of Open Banking and how clubs can look to reduce their significant spends on card payments by utilising the Open Banking network. Payments are far cheaper than conventional card payments and funds are received instantly, as opposed to having them paid 3-4 working days later or paid out during a season on rolling reserves as games are fulfilled, as many clubs must deal with via their incumbent card acquirers. Acquired.com provide an acquirer agnostic payment gateway, alongside banking services for pay-in and pay-out, with Open Banking offered to fans at the checkout stage alongside a conventional card payment.

Acquired.com have partnered up with a host of pay at table ordering solutions partners during the pandemic, most of whom are utilising some form of QR Code or NFC technology, to allow people to order food and drink to their tables. The codes launch a browser based solution, with no need to download a mobile app, as well as offering both Apple Pay and Google Pay as standard, to speed up the customer checkout process. Orders are sent to an iPad or EPOS system in the bar/kitchen area, allowing staff to put together orders and deliver them to tables. All of this equals no queueing at bars, faster transactions, larger spends and a resolution to assist with ongoing staffing shortages in the sector.

RFD devices offer a similar experience for ticket holders at events, whether embedded into a wearable wristband, season ticket or other pieces of hardware, they allow fans to interact with the event space and can also be utilised as mobile wallets when linked to a payment platform like Acquired.com. Venues can track spending habits of fans and subsequently tailor marketing to the things they know their fans like to do when attending one of their events.

NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) were another talk of the town at this years event, with many clubs now looking to cash in on digital collectables, whether that be ticket stubs, digital memorabilia or tradeable goods. Acquired.com can support payment acceptance for these digital goods via our extensive integrated acquirer network, ensuring venues can offer their fans and attendees the latest in events experiences.

Overall, it was clear to see from this year’s event that innovation within the ticketing and stadia sectors is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, from suppliers to venues and clubs themselves. Collaborative partnerships are happening left, right and centre and payments innovation is helping to support them all in the road to recovery.

Insights from Grant Evans, Head of Partnerships, Acquired.com