Not Just Tickets: TIXR’s Accelerating High-Tech Disruption
– Robert Davari
Despite being a high-tech business ripe for innovation, the ticketing sector of the live entertainment industry is notoriously difficult to infiltrate, with established major players having entrenched relationships and vertical integration with venues and event producers. Alternate players largely dominate the club and festival scene as well, with longstanding relationships and specialized services.
New players hit roadblocks when trying to enter the space, but the truly innovative and impressive still find ways in.
“We’re having record months every month,” says TIXR CEO Robert Davari. “Obviously, COVID was difficult for everybody in the space, but we were able to weather the storm and actually we signed more deals last year and in Q1 and Q2 this year than any time in our history. We’re a much larger company coming out of COVID.”
Davari has led the company, which formed in 2013, to now handling events including tickets and merch for the Encore Drive-In Nights concert series, which features major stars like Bon Jovi and Florida Georgia Line simultaneously airing at 340 drive-in theaters across the U.S., Canada and even Ireland. TIXR also handles ticketing for a number of venues, especially strong in Miami, as well as ticketing and merch for festivals such as Summer Camp, Lightning In A Bottle 2022, and Catskill Mountain Jubilee, along with anime and comic conventions, sporting events and more. Also offered are VIP and travel packages for events such as Rolling Loud and Breakaway Music Festival, and the CID Presents’ Dead & Co. Playing In The Sand destination event in Cancun, Mexico, which added a second weekend on the fly with the help of TIXR’s waitlist capabilities.
Davari says TIXR is ready to move the industry forward, with the ability to innovate and be flexible, turning around complicated and specific features quickly and efficiently.
Davari is also moderating a panel discussion at Pollstar Live! in Los Angeles next week, titled Changing Lanes: How to Turn Shutdown Fan Engagement Into Post-Pandemic Ticket Sales. The panel speakers include Mandolin’s Mary-Kay Huse, Hitco Entertainment’s Jama Jimoh, Veeps’ Joel Madden, and Lyte’s Ant Taylor.
Pollstar: Let’s hear about the Encore Drive-In Nights, which is kind of an unusual event with specific ticketing needs.
Robert Davari: What’s unique about it is it’s 300-plus simultaneous shows being broadcasted in three countries. It all goes on sale at the same time. There’s a few fundamental challenges – even if you look at Ticketmaster, you never see a 300-city tour. Being able to build out that many events in a very short period of time is difficult. Our back end –every show is completely different – is sticky enough. You can build out a show in literally seconds, so we truly believe we can go to market with any size and scale of show and manage that. But even we got pushed to the edge, we brought in an entire team to just build these things out. Then your system has to be able to handle that many shows. So we actually had to make pretty dramatic improvements to the architecture of the system to handle the demand. We did it, and we had a successful onsale for Bon Jovi. The other piece is TIXR developed a custom website, if you go to encorenights.com/bonjovi, we actually designed and built that. You have a custom search so you can find the venue closest to you. All of that is powered by TIXR’s API, and you can build on top of it.
How about the Dead & Co. Playing In The Sand taking place in Cancun in January, which added a second weekend?
Not only did it sell out in a few minutes with no hiccups in the system, but we were in real time able to queue up demand above and beyond in basically pre-sales for another event using our waitlist system. It was a dramatic accomplishment, and one of the primary if not the primary driver for opening up a second weekend. It’s not just that we knew what the demand looked like, we had the money sitting there, with the credit cards pre-authorized, so knew exactly more or less how many we could sell. Ticketing is a yield management and optimization game. That’s why we started the company in the first place, and that event was a showcase of the impact you can make if you start having technology that creates an efficient fan experience and opportunity on the back end. That was a big one.
For some events you’re not doing primary ticketing but added VIP, travel packages or even an NFT in the case of Breakaway Festival.
What we really focus on is continuing to innovate and be flexible, those are the two major fundamental differentiators, to not just TIXR but having a new product that doesn’t have the technical debt and limitations. When it comes to what we did with Breakaway or with Rolling Loud, we’re friendly with a lot of these promoters and where
other legacy companies stop and aren’t able to help with particular things, we step in. The NFT [with Breakaway Festival’s presale] is a good example. We turned that around over a weekend, because we’ve built everything necessary to make those things happen. Same thing with a lot of these high-end VIP packages, they’re very difficult to process at those dollar amounts, also mitigating against fraud and adding optionality on how fans are able to buy those things, with payment plans and stuff like that. And for promoters to manage them on the back end. It’s very challenging. I’m not going to say we’ve never failed an onsale or had hiccups, but they’re few and far between. I do believe over the long term people will see the need to invest in flexible technology.