This week on the XLIVE Interview Series we had the privilege of sitting down with two ticketing executives from ticketing giant See Tickets, Boris Patronoff, CEO North America, and Amy Brown, SVP Strategy and Business Development. We spoke to them about a number of topics regarding See Tickets from the company’s inception, what differentiates them as a ticketing provider in the competitive ticketing industry, and their plans for the organization in the future. Read their answers below!
Thank you for taking the time to join us today, Boris and Amy! The first question is for Boris. For those who don’t already know See Tickets, can you give us a brief overview of the organization and the opportunity the See Tickets founders saw when founding this company?
See Tickets was formed in 1992 in a record store in Nottingham, England by a small group who had a passion for music. What started out selling physical tickets to local events and have evolved into an experienced international ticketing organization. We are now present in all major European markets and North America offering a comprehensive suite of ticketing, marketing and data analytic solutions. The business is backed by Vivendi SA, a Paris-based international Media and Content business, with annual revenues in excess of $15 billion in 2017 which includes Universal Music, Havas, Studio Canal, Vivendi Village and Daily Motion amongst other strategic assets. We now manage ticket sales for some of the largest music, theatre, sporting and exhibition events in the World including Glastonbury Festivals, in addition to providing box office systems and ticket management to several high-profile venues like Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, Alexandra Palace in London and L’Olympia in Paris.
The second question is for Amy. Throughout your career you have worked with and for multiple ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster. Can you give us some insight into what you learned during your tenure there, and how your overall industry experience has helped you in your current position at See Tickets?
The technology advances within the industry as a whole have completely transformed the way both content owners and customers expect to interact with ticketing companies today. Despite that, the core business and operational requirements of selling and delivering tickets remains the same. The experience I gained early in my career as both a box office manager and employee of other ticketing companies has been invaluable in my current role at See Tickets as our team focuses on providing innovative, intuitive solutions for our clients and their fans.
For Boris: See Tickets was started in the UK, and is becoming more and more established now in the US. What have been some of the largest challenges breaking into this new market, and what has been an easy which you thought may have provided challenge?
The US is the largest ticketing market in the world. The competition is fierce but we find ourselves winning new clients constantly because of our approach. There are a lot of ticketing companies that have focused on growth at the expense of profitability, as their investors want to exit and make a quick buck. We’ve seen examples very recently. This ultimately leads to pressure on the ticketing industry margins and create unrealistic economic expectations for our clients and prospects. With Vivendi being our shareholder, we are here for the long run and are investing in our business, our technology and our clients the right way.
On the easier side, the needs of our clients in the UK are very similar to our US clients which has allowed us to grow quickly stateside. This experience combined with the acquisition of Flavorus in 2016 and its 20 years of history in the US has given us an unparalleled advantage to serve our US clients. You may not have of heard so much of us in the US, but we’re not a new player in ticketing.
The next question is for both of you. How has technology changed the ticketing industry over the past several years? Which technology came and which technology left, and with regards to new technology, what do you think will have an impact on the ticketing industry of tomorrow?
AMY/BORIS: Our industry is constantly trying to keep up with the norms of the travel industry and only recently has seen traction as it relates to prioritizing the mobile experience, delivering tickets digitally, packaging offerings other than just admissions, and dynamically pricing tickets based on demand. Over the past 10 years or so, I have seen a lot of companies come and go who were focused on providing yet another avenue for fans to discover events which ultimately added clutter to the marketplace without moving the needle much in terms of increasing event exposure or driving incremental ticket sales. Today, and as we look at the future, we’re more effectively solving for both of those challenges by providing customers the ability to buy tickets in the spaces where they’re already interacting with the artists, promoters or venuse online so I think we’ll see that strategy continue to grow. Additionally, the increasing focus for content providers to know more about each person actually in attendance at their events (from both a security and marketing perspective) will continue to drive technology on that front, again, similar to what we already see within the airline industry.
This is another question for both of you. Other than facilitating the actual ticket transactions, what benefits and services does See Tickets provide to event organizers?
AMY/BORIS: Our relationship with Universal Music Group has allowed us to do some really exciting and unique marketing campaigns and data mining that assists our clients with reaching new audiences. Additionally, our dedicated client support team is the strongest in the business and their expertise allows them to truly consult with our partners on not only ticketing operations, but overall logistics, pricing strategies, and marketing as well.
A question for you both, what do you think about ticketing companies which are using Blockchain to help with safety and security for secondary resale markets?
AMY/BORIS: It’s a really interesting use of that technology and by providing a truly unique, “anonymous” and non-transferrable identifier to both the seller and purchaser, in theory this option should give content owners more control and eliminate opportunities for fraud. Having said that we are also a bit cautious about the promise of greater “safety and security” through blockchain: in what way does a distributed database make anyone safer? We are looking at it seriously but so far haven’t seen anyone use Blockchain for anything in ticketing other than trying to raise money.
For Boris: As CEO of See Tickets North America, what keeps you up at night and what part of your job brings you the most joy?
As I said earlier I am concerned by some of our independent competitors that put growth ahead of everything. In the end, it is not the best for the industry and our clients long term. This affects everyone’s ability to innovate & invest in technology, marketing and service to deliver a better solution to our clients.
I’m thrilled to be working with such an incredible team at See Tickets and serve clients who are all entrepreneurs at the heart of live entertainment. This is fun which is what any job should be.
A final parting note from you both, where do you see See Tickets in the next one, five, and ten years?
AMY: As the business continues to evolve, the See Tickets platform and support team are scaling at a rapid pace to support our ability to work with more venue, festival and promoter partners.
BORIS: Our immediate focus is to continue to grow where we are strong starting with our music business. Music venues & festivals have been our fastest growing segments in 2018. Long term we are looking at expanding into more verticals.
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