We regularly look at the problem from the vendor's side of things—after all, they're the ones with the most to lose. Today, though, to put the boot on the other foot, we're going to explore what it's like for the site visitor hoping to grab high-demand tickets for the most popular events on the market.
Which events and experience are prone to surges in traffic volume?
After a year's worth of major events being taken clean off the table, where large groups once gathered to revel in an exhilarating shared experience, finally, the time is coming to return to life as we knew it.
Tickets and tours, if not already, will soon become available again as fans are allowed back into stadiums and arenas. More events will add to the total tally each day, and with them, the problem all fans faced, and that's how to get their hands on the tickets they're the most desperate for.
The anxiety comes not only from if they'll be lucky enough to land the tickets they want but also from the experience of procuring them via online agencies and ticketing systems.
The most popular, and those causing the highest levels of frustration and anxiety, are typically gigs and live music events. However, the anxiety of online ticket purchasing isn't solely limited to one experience.
- Gigs and tours
- Music festivals
- Theatre shows, plays, and musicals
- Theme parks
- TV shows, awards ceremonies, and live events
- Sporting events, games, and matches
Scroll through the established ticketing sites right now, and you'll find that most acts and events remain postponed or cancelled. It's just another frustration for the entertainment-loving gig, concert, and festival-goers—but not for much longer, we hope.
The ‘crash’ and burn for ticketing websites and their visitors
Let's get back to the frustrations of fans landing the tickets they really want.
Established agencies may already have their online ticketing queues in order, but what do they do to deliver a straightforward and as near stress-free service as their users would like? There are means to make the journey more comfortable; we'll look at them after why such stresses appear in the first place.
How does the fan feel when approaching such an issue?
Stressed. Anxious. Nervous. Excited.
They're all emotions delivered using the same chemicals, but how we interpret them is down to how we feel and what we think about the process. If the process of procuring tickets were guaranteed and seamless, then the excitement would be all we had to face. Sadly, with demand almost always being higher than supply, many fans will be disappointed, and they know it. That anticipation is what delivers the stress of buying the tickets and the anxiety of if they'll be lucky enough to procure them.
Worse still, plenty will feel disappointed even if they win their tickets. And that's down to the buying experience.
When more fans log on than a service's servers can comfortably manage, each one over the set limit is placed in a queue before being permitted access to the final stage website. Only when they get to the front of the queue can they apply for their allocation of tickets and carry out the purchase transaction.
The solution: virtual queuing systems that manage traffic overflow and user experience
Filtering heavy traffic loads by moving excess users into a virtual waiting room, they become part of an online queue, and with the pressure on the servers removed, they continue to work as normal.
Fans are added to the queue in order or arrival, delivering a fair first-come-first-served system, adding some sense of relief to the buyer. Believing the system is fair to all in the queue also helps the waiting journey feel shorter for its users.
But does that appease the total stress and anxiety of the fan looking to buy tickets? Well, it depends on how the queue is managed.
Can't cloud technology expand its platform when queue surges hit its servers?
One of the questions we're often asked is: if cloud technology is clever enough to read the volume of traffic and expand with it, why should we bother with an online queuing system at all?
Sadly, for the time being, cloud-based scaling isn't an immediate process. It takes a few minutes for the additional server capacity to be activated and prepared in order to be effective. During that time, it's highly likely that your traffic surge will have done its damage and shut your site down.
It's a great option to manage a higher rate of traffic and sales, but we'd still suggest that a ticketing queue system is in place to protect you from disaster during those few minutes of vulnerability.
How does the fan feel when faced with a ticketing queue system for concert and event tickets?
How does our existing list of feelings and emotions look when our fans face a virtual queue instead of direct access to their purchase?
- Anxious that they might not reach the front of the online queue while tickets are still available.
- Frustrated at not knowing their position or when they might be called on to complete the transaction.
- Worried that they've been forgotten or lost in the system.
- Pressured to try another means of acquirement.
There's far less excitement in there and way more anxiety. So how can the sellers go about delivering a better experience for their customers?
Tips to make the queuing experience easier for concert lovers and festival-goers
Here's how to make the best of the situation and to help buyers through the ticketing queue management process with the best experience possible.
It's all boils down to fairness and communication.
- Be clear about what each fan can expect throughout the process.
- Let them see the continual movement of their position in the online queue.
- Update the waiting time until they reach the payment/ordering stage.
- Help them to feel part of the journey.
The main takeaway here is continual feedback. Knowledge is power, as they say.
By keeping your visitors and buyers informed, much of the anxiety is relieved. However, the concern as to whether or not they'll land the tickets they want is still flowing through their veins.
How do you deal with that? Well, here's a list of common elements that play their part in those worries. Once you understand them, you can introduce ways to counteract them, bringing peace and harmony to your visitors (well, a little at least), garnering love and respect for your brand. And why is that so important? Repeat sales, customer loyalty, and returning revenue; that's why.
- Occupied time (active waiting) feels shorter than unoccupied time (passive waiting).
- Anxiety makes waiting times feel longer.
- An unknown waiting period feels longer than an estimated, expected duration.
- Unexplained waiting processes feel longer and are more stress-inducing than explained and accepted reasons.
- Unfair ticketing queues add to anger and frustration. Fair queuing systems result in more peaceful queuing.
Creating a distraction to instigate an active waiting period
As we touched on, waiting times feel shorter when we're occupied. So keep your visitors busy, wherever you can.
Active waiting time vs passive waiting time is one of the key ways to fend off your visitors' stresses, so here are a few ways you can keep them distracted.
1. Can you keep them busy with quizzes and surveys?
There doesn't have to be a real reason to gather information, but let's say your visitor is buying tickets for a Little Mix show or a play in the West End. While they're nudging their way forward through the online queue and the total waiting time is ticking down, will they even notice if they're clicking through ‘Are you Little Mix's number one fan?’ or ‘How much do you know about the West End theatre trail?’
You could use a survey to gather useful data. What are the things you'd love to know about your customers and how they shop, what they'd love to see on your site, and even find out what would make their waiting and shopping experiences better? It might only take them a few minutes to complete their answers, but that could be enough to get them to the front of shorter virtual queues, appeasing their anxieties completely.
2. Could you upsell other events, concerts, and experiences?
It's also a great opportunity to upsell your service. While you've got their undivided attention, why not show them all the other events and activities you've got on offer? Extra sales are up for grabs, so you'd be remiss not to try—especially given that the distraction to your customers is buying them a little stress-relief at the same time.
3. Can you bring stages in the buying process forward?
One of the other things ticket buyers want from their buying process is to feel that they're not wasting their time—they want to feel like they've already started. In that case, are there details you can take in advance, moving parts of the process from the final sections to while they're waiting?
Creating an account, adding their address and banking details will help users feel like they've already started the buying process when really, they're still sat in the virtual waiting room. Consider how different that feels to them and how it can change the emotions of their buying experience.
It's not just about managing traffic and sales; it's about managing the experience for your buyers
Online ticket sales are big business. Using a trusted system and carrying out all the best practice tips and tricks will make life far better for both vendor and customer. Keeping customers busy during the wait, keeping them informed, helping them feel safe, and that the whole process is fair needs communicating throughout their journey.
Take care of those things, and the sales will take care of themselves. Now all we need is for the gates to the arenas and stadiums to open again.