“Trade fair ticketing: This is the time for innovations”
Trade fair organisers in Düsseldorf, Munich, Stockholm, Basel, Zurich, Karlsruhe, Nuremberg and many others are already on the reference list. And more will follow soon. The new Vice Chairman of the UFI Digital Working Group Gunnar Heinrich, who is also adventics CEO, talks about ticketing systems for trade fair organisers in an interview. These systems are like a match on home ground for the consulting company …
Why should exhibition companies rethink their ticketing systems now?
I clearly see a positive side to the current exceptional situation. Because now is the time for innovation. If a trade fair company wants to implement innovations at the moment, it will find optimal conditions. The lack of day-to-day business makes updates of any kind easier – if you don’t have to sell tickets at the moment, it’s easier to convert your ticketing system. In addition: exhibitors and visitors are very sympathetic to changes at the moment. I would even say that they formally expect it.
What does an ideal ticketing system look like that can fully exploit its potential?
(laughs) This is a question, that can definitely only be answered in the context of the requirements of the respective trade fair company. Simply because a “one size fits all” system does not exist. Functions and features depend very much on the respective requirements: How small or large is the trade fair, how internationally oriented is it, are trade or public fairs primarily organised? Is the congress business to be managed as well? Should foreign subsidiaries work with the system? There is always the right ticket system according to the application. You just have to find the right solution.
A modern ticketing system should definitely be capable of integration and interaction in the future. It must also definitely be able to grow with the requirements of an exhibition company. Especially now, many people want to be able to incorporate new possibilities: Ticket allocation due to visitor limitations or registration for hybrid or virtual events are two popular current examples. If you have the right systems, it is easy to do so. Others can quickly run into problems if partners do not follow suit, expensive programming becomes necessary or systems simply cannot grow with the event.
What potential is there for existing ticket systems?
There is enormous pressure for innovation in the entire field of registration and ticket systems. Up to now it was sufficient to sell tickets and let people in, now the market requires more. The most important formula has been for a long time: Tickets are available in exchange for data. And registration is still the most important system to get to the basis of participant data. At the moment there is already a lot going on in Europe and also in Asia, there are a lot of interesting new projects.
As already mentioned, ticketing systems must always be considered very much in the respective business context. Nevertheless I see the main pressure for innovation especially in the area of data handling. Invitations and the whole issue of monitoring are crucial here. The generation and administration of profiles, data management and data connectors and things that have long been considered solved such as invitation and guest card management will occupy the industry for a long time to come. Personally, I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the implementation of different payment systems, which some consider crucial.
I see the second major field for innovation pressure in the integration possibilities for virtual platforms. This is a very important issue, especially for hybrid events, when existing events are expanded into the digital space.
Some systems are already prepared for this, but are the providers? In the past, some have found it easier to do so if only requirements were implemented and no innovations were brought in. Therefore, to the question “Where is the pressure to innovate?” I would always want to add “Where is the innovation potential of the systems? Which then of course also applies to their operators.
Does Corona accelerate the successful implementation of new ticket systems?
Definitely. For one thing, there is much more data available due to official constraints. For example, all public exhibitions must now be fully registered. This is a requirement that many people previously thought was not possible or in any case not necessary, and secondly, virtual and hybrid elements will remain in the medium and long term thanks to Corona. To carry them out successfully, you need perfect data. The better the data, the more and more suitable participants and the more successful the event.
Corona is currently accelerating the pressure to innovate. Organisers have to guarantee official requirements or need support for virtual events. We are all observing a strong shift towards additional digital business models. Digital business will remain and be continuously expanded, but without a system basis it is difficult to operate it successfully.
The only drawback is that the budget situation is unfortunately under pressure. Colleagues on short-time work, budget discipline and pressure to cut costs are hampering the implementation of urgently needed updates. Nevertheless, I stick with it: now is the ideal time for system change. Now we have fewer events and when they take place, they are smaller. By 2023 it will be too late when business has restarted and my competitors are far ahead from my own organisation.
What will the ticket system of the future look like?
If we knew that, we would have built it already (laughs). There are already a number of theses around the world on the ticket system of the future, including one from the digital working group of the International Federation of the Exhibition Industry (UFI).
The market expects various elements of the ticket system of the future. One is the controversially discussed face recognition technology, which will eventually replace registration and admission control completely. But it will also be possible to minimise registration questions in advance. The signs are generally pointing to acceleration: Important profile information such as interests can be collected during the Visitor Journey after entering the trade fair event. In the best case, those who are well-positioned in terms of 360-degree visitor management will have optimised the admission process in a customer-friendly manner and still have the best possible data situation.
The topic of ticket systems seems to be a match on the home field for the company adventics.
Yes, indeed it is and has been since the company was founded in 2006. Our experience with ticket systems is even in the company name. Adventics is made up of the words “adventor”, Latin for visitors, and “tics”, the short form for tickets. Before we founded adventics, we had all gathered experience with different ticketing systems since the early 90s. We then bundled this experience under the company roof. This match on our home field is with many renowned partners on the European trade fair market such as ADITUS, dimedis, axess and many others.
In the course of this long time we have already been able to implement many European projects, both in terms of consulting, supplier selection and support during the introduction. We have also developed our own methodology for ticketing systems. Over the years, our client requests have resulted in a comprehensive catalogue of requirements, use cases and international best practices. For our European trade fair customers, who often have public sector companies, our expertise with EU tenders is also a reassuring advantage. This has made us the supplier with the most comprehensive range of possible building blocks on the market, from which we can then offer our customers the right elements to suit their needs. The amount of know-how means that we can work faster and more cost-effectively to the point and in the interests of our clients.