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What the ticketing industry can learn from airline companies

In our segment, The Insider Interview Series, the world’s leading experts of the ticketing business will share their vision and insights of the industry with you.

The expert of today’s interview is Andrew Thomas. If you don’t know Andrew already due to his extensive expertise and consulting work around the world with arts, sports and entertainment organisations, to leverage technology for greater financial gain and/or customer engagement, this interview is your chance to get to know more about his insights. He is also the Director of the Ticketing Professionals Conference in the UK and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Ticketing Association.

Hans Nissens sat down with Andrew Thomas to find out what the ticketing business can learn from airline companies. Yes! From the airline companies, you are reading right. The results are not what you would expect at first and offer some very valuable insights you better make sure to absorb.

Hi Andrew! It is a pleasure to welcome you as an expert to our Interview Series. We are very much looking forward to hear more about your idea that we in the ticketing business should be more like airlines.

Hi Hans, it is great to meet again and I would like to thank you and Oxynade for the opportunity to argue my case. Hopefully we will meet again later this year during one of my other presentations across North America, Australia as well as Europe’s Ticketing Professionals Conference, it would be a great possibility to continue our conversation.

Q: What exactly is your idea when you are stating that we should be more like an airline company? You are not trying to get us actually up in the air right?

A: No, don’t you worry. You don’t actually have to get up in the air. I’m saying we should be MORE like them and monetise the assets we already own and therefor maximise our ROI.

Q: More? That would implement that we already have common denominators.

A: Yes, more is exactly what I mean. Let’s face some facts here. Our industry is using the same search engines as the airlines do to help consumers find the desired products. The same applies to the deployment of smart APIs to make an Omni channel, multi retailer market place possible. Venues and attractions engage with bookers 24-48 hours before the product is consumed, once again, so do airlines. We offer preferred experience and seating arrangements… see where I’m going? We ARE like airlines already in so many ways. I want to point out that we simply should get better at it.

Q: Glad we are trying to skyrocket our ROI and not ourselves. But seriously, I am very curious about your ideas on how we should adapt to the concept of airline companies. Please tell me more about how you see our industry evolving towards this idea.

A: Gladly. First an important note here, the idea to offer more than one price for the same seat. I’m not talking about dynamic pricing, I am talking about selling the same experience, for the same day with different tangible or intangible benefits added, or removed, with the price altered accordingly. Airlines have stripped out everything, apart from the seat and seat-belt to offer us Basic Economy. The result? The ability to offer a lower headline and available price. Bin space, reserved or aisle/window seat? That’ll be extra, checked bag? Ditto. No refunds or exchanges. Don’t you love that phrase?

Q: Following your line of thought, this gives us more revenue opportunities, correct?

A: Absolutely. Spot on. These increased revenue opportunities give us more than the Normal Economy Price. It is about revenue, but also about offering the customers what they want. I am cost sensitive and prepared to take a center seat at the back of the plane with no carry on. Fine, I can pay just €29,99. Those of you who want a bag or to sit up front, well that is €49,99 or perhaps even €109,99.

Q: So those ‘new revenue’ opportunities should be applied in different stages? What comes after the first step mentioned earlier?

A: Of course, this is not all ‘new revenue’. Much of it is for charging for the elements we stripped out in the first opportunity I outlined earlier. This goes to show that bringing a basic economy price is not taken up by all, and those that do, take you up on it will often buy those extra items. Just to provide some numbers here, guess how much the top 10 airlines made in selling extra items in 2017? US $22.1 Billion! Quite a figure. In 2007 this has been just US $2.1 Billion. That is a 10-fold increase in just 1 decade!

Q: That is actually a mind-blowing increase in numbers! Let’s get to segmentation, to see how we can best realise the idea of being more like an airline. What are the main segments in which we could easily be more like an airline in your opinion?

A: Well, there are indeed many items to talk about that airlines are selling, but I would categorise the following three basic categories.

  • Airline offered and pure margin products - seats, boarding, wifi etc.

  • Airport or partners offers with high margins - bag, security, car parking

  • Partner and experience offers with lower margins - transfers, hotels, currency exchange

It is essential that we rethink our buying flows and offer the relevant offers at the right time. Do I need hotel options in Barcelona when I actually book my ticket? No. To offer them too early risks distracting the purchaser at a critical time. The confirmation page and emails to name are often critically underused in venue sales.

Q: Do you see additional ways to maximise the customer engagement and therefor additional sales opportunities?

A: Absolutely! One of my main arguments is actually adopting the of commanding a bookers attention just before their visit and maximising the customers engagement and sales opportunity that this offers.

Q: In your expert opinion, which concept has the most potential? Which is less relevant?

A: So far I presented the concept twice and both times during discussion, there were two different winners. The winners of each session surprised me, as I thought that certain audiences and backgrounds would lean more to one way that another, but then, heh, what do I know about your challenges and your customers? I think that this answer definitely depends on the specific target audience. Once your target audience is clearly defined, the answer will be clear as day.

Andrew, I sincerely thank you for this interview and that you shared your insights with us today! I am sure this is a subject not even close to be discussed to the fullest and I am very much looking forward to getting into this deeper in the future.

It was my pleasure Hans and I am looking forward to read thoughts and comments below. To all, remember I didn’t say we should be like airlines, we just need to be MORE like them at being smart with revenue and product offerings.

In the Airline Industry, a company, who’s branding you'll never see during the booking or during your journey, is delivering the airplane with a motor. This is exactly what the Oxynade eTaaS Platform does for the Ticketing Industry with our cutting-edge technology. Delivering a full functioning platform for your business and your customers as well as the end customer whom will never see the brand behind it due to our 100% White Label feature and API integration. Just like an airline company handles all decisions about the Brand-ID, interior, etc. this is all up to you. You decide. You are in controle and are free & 100% supported to leave your mark within your market.

This interview was conducted by Oxynade's CEO Hans Nissens and edited by our Marketing Manager Lea Vanessa Stiels.

Photo: unsplash

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