Q&A with Tixserve founder Patrick Kirby

Q&A with Tixserve founder Patrick Kirby

Tixserve - which replaces paper tickets with secure and interactive equivalents - launched earlier this year at Autonomy Music’s 10th anniversary showcase.

The company offers ticket agents, venues, promoters, D2C players and other ticket sellers a ‘white label’ toolkit to help beat secondary ticketing bots and fraudsters whilst enhancing customer experience.

Here, Tixserve MD/co-founder Patrick Kirby gives the lowdown on how the firm plans to set itself apart in a hotly-competitive marketplace. 

What are your main aims and objectives for Tixserve?

The vision for Tixserve is to be the de facto global standard for secure digital ticket fulfilment for live entertainment events.The aim is to achieve Application Programming Interface (API) connectivity between the Tixserve ticket fulfilment platform and major global ticket-selling platforms.

We are setting out to help digitise the live event ticketing industry and to protect the digital ticket assets of our clients with proven, secure and interactive technologies. This will enable our clients to tackle the major issues that are affecting the live sector, namely, customer inconvenience, secondary ticketing, touts, fraud, data blind spots, m-commerce potential and the cost of distributing paper tickets compared to digital fulfilment.

Our technology provides secure yet flexible ticket fulfilment for existing ticket sellers in the music, sport and theatre sectors.  So we’re looking to partner with ticket agents, venues, promoters, and D2C platforms… anyone who is in the business of selling a ticket. Tixserve allows its clients to focus on their core business of selling tickets to consumers while we specialise in enabling them to deliver those tickets securely and efficiently. Tixserve does the ‘last mile’ of ticketing.

 What do you think you can you bring to the market that is currently missing?

Current offerings in the live event ticketing market either rely on costly and time-consuming photo ID and credit card checks for fans entering the venue, or they sacrifice security levels to hurry people through the gates. 

Tixserve has developed a triple-lock security system between the name of the ticket holder, their phone number and the phone’s unique ID. This ‘track and trace’ technology means that the rights owner no longer loses control of the primary ticket once it is sold and the rights owner, within the Tixserve ecosystem, regulates any ticket transfer or resale. The security inherent in the technology also means that harvesting of tickets by professional resellers using bots is prevented thus giving genuine fans a better chance of getting tickets for high demand events at face value prices.  And of course all stakeholders benefit from low friction validation of our digital tickets at venues with no need for blanket checking of photo IDs/credit cards.  The fact that the ticket is interactive opens up new opportunities to further monetise the relationship between the ticket seller and the customer.  Tixserve has also addressed the issue of reliability should, for example, the venue scanners stop working or the customer’s phone run out of battery. As long as you can remember your phone number and your name, you will be able to get into the event.

With traditional paper tickets, including print-at-home tickets, there is minimal interaction with the consumer. Many tickets are purchased on behalf of groups of friends or family. However, ticket sellers do not typically capture any information on the identity of the group members except for the lead purchaser. The Tixserve solution eliminates this commercial and security blind spot for event stakeholders?by enabling the capture of the name and phone number of each group member – and we all know how valuable good data is in the modern music business.

Why go paperless?

As I’ve already mentioned, the main problem with paper tickets is that rights-owners/ticket sellers lose control of the primary ticket once it is sold and there is no audit trail. Paper tickets are costly, inflexible and easily exploited by touts and fraudsters. Paperless is quicker, cheaper, more secure and, when implemented as Tixserve has done using interactive mobile digital technology, it significantly enhances the consumer experience. We looked at various options, including chip card-based models, for delivering a secure digital ticket but our research indicated that mobile was the way to go.

 What are your observations on the ticketing market at present?

Frankly, the ticketing market in music and other entertainment industries has fallen behind. Look at businesses outside of music like airlines, which are increasingly making use of digital boarding passes and tickets to great effect. That’s a sector where security and the efficient movement of customers are absolutely paramount. If they’re able to move away from paper tickets and not only maintain but improve security and service, then it begs the question as to why the live entertainment industry can’t do the same. Without innovation in ticket fulfilment, rights-holders and ticket sellers are losing money, control and data as well as pushing away many consumers by creating a negative user experience. Fragmentation and lack of industry standards have inhibited progress towards responding to the ticketing needs and expectations of the Snapchat generation but Tixserve can now help live entertainment ticket sellers to provide a ‘last mile’ mobile ticket delivery service that will delight consumers of all ages and yield commercial benefits for the industry.  

 What are your thoughts on secondary ticketing and how do you see that situation developing?

The scale and impact of secondary ticketing on the live music industry is well documented. More and more, artists and their teams rely on revenues from ticket sales, often more so than recorded music income. To date, there have been positive campaigns in the United Kingdom, the USA and elsewhere for legislative intervention in secondary ticketing from government but any progress there will only go so far. Effective enforcement of consumer protection legislation is often problematic. As we’ve seen with piracy in recorded music, technology offers the best chance to reclaim control and bolster business. The live entertainment sector needs solutions that prevent touts and bots from operating as well as improving the ticket-buying experience for genuine fans.  Tixserve meets both of those needs as well as generating higher revenues, lower costs and better data capture for ticket sellers.

How do you plan to establish yourselves?

To begin with, we’re focusing our efforts on the live music market in the United Kingdom and will announce a number of new clients in due course. Many of the ticket sellers in this segment also have a presence in international markets so expansion outside of the UK will come organically.  Beyond music, we have also identified sweet spots in the sports and theatre sectors. 

How will your previous experience help you at Tixserve?

The team behind Tixserve is its biggest asset, with years of experience and a strong track record in technology and delivering B2B electronic transaction services. This includes the pioneering digitisation of mobile phone top-ups in over 20 European countries and working with banks and high street retailers in the card payments sector. Digital is taking over every aspect of our lives, but getting users (businesses and consumers) to adopt new ways of doing things isn’t always straightforward. We have found that you do need to listen to your clients to gain an understanding of what needs to be done to motivate the behavior of the various stakeholders in the value chain. In a nutshell, the previous experience of the Tixserve team would suggest that success is less about the actual technology and more about gaining the trust and confidence of your clients that you can add commercial value to their business.

What do you see as your biggest challenges? 

I believe it was Henry Ford who said, Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals. One of the challenges that we will face is that some ticket-selling platforms use legacy systems that are not API-friendly. The good news is that Tixserve has devised work-around solutions pending the migration of the ticket sellers in question to modern API-friendly platforms. Scaling a new business to be a global player always presents challenges but this is where the team’s previous execution track record with companies such as Transaction Network Services and Payzone comes into play. We relish the opportunity to serve the ticket fulfilment needs of our clients in the United Kingdom and Ireland and to extend our reach into international markets.

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