Once upon a time, tickets were simple. Attending a show meant buying and receiving a ticket, handing it over to
gain entry and getting back the stub. Receiving a hardcopy ticket printed on cardboard stock was pretty much the
only form of ticketing. This form of tickets is still most common, but is certainly no longer the only way.
Today, in addition to these “traditional” tickets, event organizers are beginning to use print-at-home tickets and
mobile tickets. Print-at-home tickets are ticket images that are typically emailed to the buyer. The buyer simply
prints them on a home printer. Mobile tickets are barcodes or QR codes (2-dimensional Quick Response codes)
that are sent to the buyer’s smart phone.
|Emerging and Traditional Ticket Forms and Functions
For event organizers who are deciding whether or not to move toward print-at-home or mobile ticketing, it is
interesting to look at the various purposes a ticket serves and the degree to which each of these forms of ticketing
serves these purposes.
Event Organizer’s Perspective
An event ticket serves both the event organizer and the ticket buyer. Let’s look first from the event organizer’s
First, a ticket is a proof of payment – evidence that the buyer paid for admission and has the right to attend the
event. Traditional tickets, print-at-home and mobile tickets all serve this purpose equally well.
Second, a ticket is a platform on which the event organizer can deliver a message. Types of messages delivered
on tickets include the event name, the venue address, special instructions or disclaimers. Traditional and print-at-
home tickets serve this purpose well; mobile tickets, less so.
A ticket can also serve as a billboard on which to show an advertisement, if desired. Many venues have
recognized the appeal of their audiences to advertisers, and have decided to allow advertising on the ticket.
Again, traditional tickets and print-at-home tickets serve this purpose well, but advertising is difficult to present on
Finally, the ticket gives the event organizer a method of checking in the patron. Checking in serves the purpose
of ensuring the ticket is used only once and provides a record of attendance for the event. All forms of tickets play
this role well.
Ticket Buyer’s Perspective
Let’s look from the ticket buyer’s perspective.
Again, a ticket is proof of payment, yielding the right to be admitted to the event. All forms of tickets play this role
Second, buyers refer to tickets for instructions on date, time, venue location, and of course, section, row and
seat number. Traditional and print-at-home tickets serve this requirement well, but it is more difficult to provide
such information in a mobile ticket.
Buyers view a ticket also as an asset that can be transferred to someone else. Perhaps they bought it as a gift, or
perhaps they can no longer attend the event and wish to sell the ticket. All forms of tickets can be transferred, but
of course, transferring a mobile ticket requires the recipient to have the required mobile device.
Finally, many buyers view the ticket as a memento of the occasion. Some will put their tickets in a prominent place
(e.g. posted on the fridge) prior to the event so they can look at them and joyfully anticipate the good time. And
many will keep the stub at least for some period of time afterward as a reminder of the good time. I uncovered the
following quote on a discussion board: “I have every ticket stub to every event I've attended for the past 20 years“.
Traditional tickets, because of the quality, play this role best; mobile tickets do not serve this need.
Comparing the Forms of Ticketing
The following chart summarizes the various roles of a ticket and how well each form of ticketing meets each role.
It is also interesting to compare the three forms of ticketing across other factors like cost, convenience and
Certainly, traditional tickets are highest cost. Special card stock is required, as are special print machines.
Further the hardcopy ticket needs to get to the buyer – either by mail incurring postage, or held at Will Call
incurring labor hours. Print-at-home and mobile tickets are close to zero cost since they are sent electronically.
With respect to convenience and timeliness, mobile tickets beat out the other two forms since a buyer can receive
the ticket and be ready to show it for admission within seconds of making the purchase. Print-at-home comes in
second since the buyer can receive the ticket quickly but must get to a printer to print it. Traditional tickets are the
least convenient and the least timely, since they need to be mailed or held for the buyer.
Since print-at-home tickets offer most of the features that traditional tickets offer and are lower cost and more
convenient, event organizers who have not yet begun using them should indeed examine moving towards ticketing
systems that enable print-at-home. Further, although mobile tickets offer fewer features, their convenience and
immediacy also make them an attractive form of tickets.
Louis Lamoureux is the TicketPeak Product Manager at Apparen Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com