Selling 20 Million Tickets Per Month In India & Other Challenges Faced in Global Ticketing

"Challenges Faced in Global Ticketing"
– “Challenges Faced in Global Ticketing”
From left: Rob Wilmshurst, Andrew Parsons, Ashish Hemrajani, David Goldberg and Biasha Mitchell

An illustrious panel of ticketing experts delved deep into the current ticketing challenges across a variety of territories in the Pollstar Live! panel “Challenges Faced in Global Ticketing”.
Biasha Mitchell, Global Music Strategy, Eventbrite
David Goldberg, Senior Advisor, TPG
Ashish Hemrajani, CEO, BookMyShow
Andrew Parsons, Managing Director, Ticketmaster UK
Rob Wilmshurst, CEO, See Tickets/Digitick
Ashish Hemrajani
– Ashish Hemrajani
Offered the Indian perspective on ticketing

Ashish Hemrajani, CEO of BookMyShow, shared the Indian perspective, which demonstrated that most of the other panelists were dealing with first-world problems when it comes to ticketing.

So while the other panelists were contemplating the question of whether the allocation-based ticketing model of the UK was preferable to the winner-takes-it-all model of the United States, Hemrajani was contemplating the question of how to get tickets into the hands of the 700 million Indians who don’t have a bank account. 
To address these problems as well as the country’s lack of infrastructure, Hemrajani founded BookMyShow 20 years ago. “Today BookMyShow builds its own venues, we run our own infrastructure, we produce our own shows, so that artists that come get the same production values they’re used to in the rest of the world. And we also sell tickets.”
20 million per month to be exact, across all genres including movies, concerts and other events. To accommodate the country’s 30-plus states, which differ in culture, religion and language, BookMyShow acquired seven regional ticketing companies in the past five years for their local expertise.
And there is still loads of untapped potential, according to Hemrajani. “We’ve got a population of 1.3 billion people. The top 100 million, I call them the United Kingdom of India. They dress like us, have the same PPP [purchasing power parity], can afford smart phones, have an internet connection, use online payment systems, speak English and go to private schools. 
“The next 400 million, I call them the Brazil of India, that’s the emerging middle class. They are just about getting mobile phones, may use payment systems, certainly have a bank account.
“And then the last 700 million I call the Africa of India, which is underserved, undernourished, they don’t have enough to get by. Even today you have about 700 million people in India who don’t have a bank account.”
Amazon, Uber, Flipkart all do cash on delivery in India. “You can book an Uber in India and pay by cash. Amazon still delivers 55 percent of their goods to people in their homes and collects cash,” Hemrajani explained, who needs to cater for that segment as well. “It’s hugely inefficient, but you have to do it, if you want to penetrate the next 400 million.”
Not that ticketing was streamlined across markets in the so-called First World. As Parsons and Wilmshurst explained, European territories differed massively when it came to how tickets are distributed.
France, for instance, allocated tickets to different ticketing agencies like the UK, but all ticket agencies are connected to the same system via an API. This digital savviness is contrasted by the fact that customers still collect their tickets at FNAC retail stores in vast numbers.
Led an interesting discussion around ticketing
Julia Lofstrand
– Led an interesting discussion around ticketing
Biasha Mitchell, Global Music Strategy, Eventbrite

Wilmshurst found it weird that promoters still distributed vast amounts of paper tickets in 2019. “We’ll be selling a ticket one day, but won’t ship it for months later, which is no fault of our own, but for a consumer that’s used to, say, the Amazon experience, it’s pretty raw.

“This is something we’re trying to challenge all the time with venues and promoters.”
Parsons confirmed that getting rid of “the little pieces of paper” was one priority going forward.
In China, too, there was “still and awful lot of paper tickets [in circulation]”, even though most people used their mobile phones to make the purchase, Goldberg explained.
“We’d all love to see paper tickets go by the wayside sooner rather than later, for every good reason: it’s more efficient, you get it into consumers hands earlier, you can control transfer if that something you wanted. For security purposes you are able to understand who bought and holds the tickets.”
Since the Chinese government is very involved in peoples’ lives (“there is no privacy in China”), it would only approve such a system if it still got all the information it wanted, Goldberg explained.