In the past couple of weeks, there has been some extra coverage of the Miley Cyrus concert tour, but it doesn’t have to do with her music. The entire tour is going to use paperless tickets, meaning that the ticket information will be stored on the credit card that was used to purchase the tickets instead of any physical tickets being printed. The biggest reason behind this movement is to prevent ticket scalping. Scalpers like to purchase large numbers of tickets as soon as these events go on sale (sometimes using questionable means) and then resell them on the open market at steep premiums. However, without having a physical ticket to provide, these resellers are losing their inventory. You can click here to read the full Wall Street Journal article on this topic.
There are other benefits to paperless tickets as well, including reduced production costs, being environmentally friendly and reducing counterfeit ticket issues. Of course, innovation always comes with some additional pitfalls. In this case, there are concerns about long lines at the arena, the safety of patrons that still try to buy from a reseller (they’d need to be physically present at the arena with the ticket buyer to get in) and even some risk of lost sales (however much teams and venues hate to admit it, there is value in being able to sell a large amount of inventory to resellers and get that guaranteed revenue).
While the focus of these paperless initiatives is on the concert side, it won’t be long until this moves over to the team side. In fact, some teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers have already moved some portion of their customers to paperless tickets. In these cases, tickets can be loaded onto a credit card or any other id that has a magnetic strip. Are we going to reach the day when all tickets are digital? It might not be this year or next year, but I do believe that we’re not too far away from the end of physical tickets.