‘There’s Room For All Of Us’
Nottingham-based ticket agency Gigantic turned 10 this year in April. The company sells tickets for live entertainment and sports events in all of the UK. Pollstar spoke to company founder Mark Gasson about its history.
Gasson has been working in ticketing since the early ’90s. He started off as a phone operator at Way Ahead Ticket Agency in Nottingham, working up through the ranks to coach manager. In 1996 he organized all of the coaching to the two Oasis shows at Knebworth Park.
He recalls: “It was probably 500 coaches each day going to those concerts. It was a mammoth undertaking.” Gasson went on to become event manager for music at Way Ahead, which later merged into See Tickets. It was there that Gasson developed a large network of promoters as friends and contacts, and after 15 years of working for one company, he was ready to start his own.
What have been the most significant changes in the ticketing business over the last 10 years?
The advent of people buying tickets on the move. All major ticket agencies need to have a website that’s fully responsive to accommodate that, including a smooth purchase experience.
We’ve also developed e-ticketing, so tickets are delivered instantly to customers at the point of purchase. In short, all the technological advances that have enabled ticketing to be easy, moving away from high street ticketing toward a place where people are selling 99 percent of all tickets online with around 50 percent of those being sold via mobile platforms [according to Gigantic’s data].
What’s on the top of your agenda at the moment?
We’re looking to add further developments to our portfolio to enable a speedy purchase and swift entry into events. We’re currently in the process of developing a mobile scanning app that can be used by any kind of venue.
The staff at the venue can just download the app, the barcodes of everyone attending a particular concert on any given evening will be on it so they can be scanned in. We hope to have that right by the end of this year.
What’s Gigantic’s stance on secondary ticketing?
We are a primary ticket agency. In all honesty, I’m bored to death with the secondary ticketing industry. I wish the government would do something to if not outlaw it, at least make it more difficult to trade as they currently do. And I wish Google would do something to eliminate secondary ticketing from its search results, which confuse customers.
We as a primary ticket agency link to Twickets, the ethical side of the secondary ticketing industry. No tickets are sold on there above face value. So if we are sold out for an event, we will put a link on our website that takes the customer to Twickets.
Are there any concerns that Ticketmaster and Eventim are going to eventually own everything?
Particularly in the UK, the music market is so varied, there’s a host of independent venues, and obviously major venues too. Each ticket agency can bring its own benefits to a certain venue and those venues will align themselves with the ticket agency that best supports them. There’s certainly room for all of us.
Do you have a favorite UK venue?
Gigantic are based in Nottingham, so the majority of gigs I go to are here. My favorite venues here are
Is there any concert you attended over the years that sticks out? A highlight?
When I was a student in London in the late ’80s, there was some amazing bands coming over to play. And one that really sticks in my mind was Nirvana at the Astoria. They supported Mudhoney and Tad, so they were bottom of the bill. They probably played to 500 people in the Astoria, and I was one of them. That was incredible.
I was really into a lot of those types of bands at the time, and went to incredible shows by Mudhoney and Dinosaur and that kind of stuff. They were some really great shows.
Do you have a favorite band?
My favorite band of all times is R.E.M. My favorite current band are
Returning briefly to ticketing: what’s next? Where do you see the industry headed?
It’s hard to predict. The UK market is and always has been a fragmented one. Obviously there are a few large players on top, but there’s room for everybody. I think that diversity will continue to grow.
And I think peoples’ technology will be crucial. Those who don’t invest in that will probably find themselves falling by the wayside.