Word Stock: Print at Home

Remember this scene from the movie "Office Space"?

Remember this scene from the movie “Office Space”?

Hard tickets are stupid. Imagine stacks of printed, unique tickets shipped to ticket sales outlets, each one completely untraceable and unreplaceable. If you don’t have to imagine it because you can remember it, you’re probably thinking “good riddance” right now, and if you are imagining it, you’re probably scowling in puzzlement and confusion. What the heck kind of system was that?

Of course, it got better. First, the tickets were organized into a central data base and printed on-site via a proprietary data network and a fairly specialized system of ticket-printing hardware at different ticket selling locations or the venue itself.

Eventually, with the Internet, the ticket was no longer a prisoner of some proprietary printing system. The bar code a ticket carried, really, was the only truly critical part of it, and you could reproduce and find that information with ease once everyone could access a data network (aka, the Internet).

And where are we now? We’ve freed the ticket from its prison, but we’ve replaced it with something that is pretty clunky too. Print at home is the way that most tickets get produced today in many genres. For those unfamiliar (all four of you), it works like this: the ticketing system emails you a file. On that file is a bunch of information about your “tickets,” but it includes a bar code that will be scanned for entry at the venue. You download this file (usually a pdf) and then print it, stick it in your pocket, and then show it to the ticket taker at the venue, who beeps you into the venue.

It’s definitely an improvement, but it’s really just a half step. You still need a piece of paper to get into the venue. Worse yet, you need to go on email, download a file, print that file and then make sure and remember to bring that printing.

That’s fairly inconvenient, and we’ve already talked about the Convenience Gap, which we don’t want to add anything to. You don’t need to download and print anything to go eat dinner or see a movie, or certainly to veg at home and watch Netflix.

But it’s not just inconvenient. It’s a potential sales killer in the next few years because of two very important things: fewer people own printers and more people are using mobile devices to buy things.

It’s inconvenient enough in a desktop-connected, printer-based world, but in a smartphone-no printer world, Print at Home is a deal breaker.

It’s time for our industry to get serious about moving away from Print at Home. It’s bad juju. Move to a phone-based system sooner rather than later, or face another barrier to getting through to an audience, especially an under 30 audience. Last week in Las Vegas at the Tickets.com conference I got a chance to hear from the guys there about all the advances in digital ticketing and it’s clear that’s where we’re headed.

RATING: SELL! SELL! SELL! Look, this is going to be with us for a little while, but when it crashes, it’s going to crash hard. Dump this dog now and get with the paperless.

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