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9th November 2021 - By: Marc Luther Thomas

Digital innovation in Sport: Mobile Ticketing

Mobile Ticketing - Digital Innovation in Sport

Following last week’s piece about Leeds becoming the first football club to sell merchandise on TikTok, Marc Luther Thomas takes a look at another example of digital innovation in sport, in the shape of mobile ticketing…

In the era of our recovery from Covid, we’ve all become familiar with paying, ordering for things or accessing events with mobile ticketing. The likelihood is that this functionality is here to stay, too – with growing numbers of organisations facilitating payment, ordering and ticketing through their mobile apps.

Mobile ticketing is something that has been on the rise for a while, but it has perhaps taken the pandemic, and the resulting need to limit contact with others, to accelerate its adoption. Sport – and football in particular – has been surprisingly sluggish, particularly when you consider the benefits of mobile ticketing in terms of access for fans. Match-going supporters are less likely to lose a mobile ticket, they won’t have the stress of their tickets arriving in time for the big game, no queues for picking up tickets at stadiums, while the cost and waste associated with distributing physical tickets is eliminated.

Mobile ticketing in football has been around for a number of years now. My team, Swansea City, were actually the first top-flight club to introduce it back in our Premier League glory days (one of the only things we can say we’ve been first at in recent times!). In partnership with Ticketmaster, Sports Alliance and Other Media, they were able to integrate a ticketing service into Swansea’s official app so that fans could purchase tickets from within the app, including the ability to buy priority and discounted tickets through the app recognising whether users were part of the club’s Jack Army membership. Upon buying a ticket, fans would be able to gain entry to matches with a barcode sent to them within the mobile app.

It was sold to fans at the time as a way of them eliminating the need to print and they were further enticed by a saving on transaction costs. Anyone who’s purchased gig tickets or anything of the like in recent years will attest to the fact that this aspect of it didn’t quite catch on as venues and organisers still find ways to fleece you with booking fees however you buy, but the smoother fan experience cannot be denied.

This is compounded by the developments made to mobile ticketing in the time since then. A year later, Queens Park Rangers were involved in a first of their own when they themselves teamed up with Ticketmaster to capitalise on new technology which allowed for the secure transfer of tickets across operating systems.

This innovation further improved convenience for supporters as it enabled them to transfer tickets between themselves, meaning that somebody could purchase a group of mobile tickets when they come on sale in the app, before transferring them to their family and friends who can access them within the app. This is a perfect way of making your plans and catering for the less organised mates in your group, there’s always at least one… (if you don’t know who it is, then unfortunately it’s probably you).

This ability to transfer tickets also worked as an effective way to combat ticket touts, with fans able to be confident about the legitimacy of tickets they were transferred. The technology also included mechanisms like hidden barcodes, device locking and screenshot prevention to give fans and the club peace of mind when it comes to security.

If you haven’t been to a live sporting event since the return of fans this year, it’s likely you’ll be using your mobile for entry when you do. It’s another example of sports utilising digital to improve their fan experiences, and we’ll be checking out some more on our blog throughout November, so stay tuned!