Ticketing Technology Forum 2017 kicked off today in Dublin, Ireland, with 450 delegates attending from 42 countries around the world.

Now in its fifth year, the event has established itself as a key meeting of members of the global ticketing industry, and judging from what we were treated to today, the forum looks set for even more growth and success!

Ian Nuttall, founder and chief executive of Ticketing Technology Forum, got proceedings started by revealing that today marks the 11-year anniversary of when he first met his wife, Angelina. And if this wasn’t enough to bring a smile to the faces of delegates, Ian swiftly moved on to serenade one lucky attendee with a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.

After a bit of housekeeping, which included details of next year’s event that will run from April 17-18 at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, the first session of the day began with Jasper Hope, chief executive of Dubai Opera, discussing some of the global perspectives and emerging trends in the industry.

Hope said that despite having only opened seven months ago, Dubai Opera has staged more than 100 performances and while feedback has been positive, he is keen for the venue to improve its ticketing processes.

“I’m very confident in the live experience that we offer, but there is still work to be done on the ticketing side of things,” Hope said.

Luke Xiang, vice-president of international business, at Weying in China, then took to the stage to speak about the success of the online ticketing platform, which is now responsible for one third of all cinema ticket sales in the country.

Xiang also paid a special tribute to the event itself: “This forum is turning more international; this is a global conference.”

However, despite much positivity about the state of the ticketing market, Vincent Larchet, chief technology officer at SecuTix, used his presentation to call for greater regulation in ticket sales and a standardised exchange protocol the industry can adhere to. The many nodding heads across the conference hall seemed to agree.

Delegates returned from the first coffee break of the day to address one of the big challenges in ticketing – data – but not before one lucky delegate was reunited with his misplaced credit card! With fraud one of the main issues in ticketing, and a key theme on day one, perhaps this was a timely reminder of the need for the industry to come together and take further action against such problems…

Clive Humby, at Purple Seven / Starcount kicked off the data session by speaking about the importance of focusing on the customer instead of your brand. Kyle Wright then took to the stage with a cardboard cut-out version of absent Shubert Ticketing colleague, David Andrews, to discuss the successful use of big data on the pinnacle of the theatre world, Broadway.

After the coronation of a new a Ticketing Hero, keynote speaker Matt Rosenberg of Eventbrite considered major changes in the industry, picking out the needs of super fans, or ‘festies’, as a key focus for the industry moving forward.

“By studying the super fans, we can change the industry,” Rosenberg said. “By focusing on the super fan, that will help to support the health and wealth of our industry.”

The former, self-proclaimed ‘King of the Bots’, Ken Lowson, then bravely opened up about his past in the big, bad world of bots, explaining how his company, Wiseguys, was able to use bots to buy tickets in bulk before selling them on. However, it didn’t end well for Lowson and Wiseguys, as the company was shut down by the FBI.

Lowson said: “Yearly, we would buy around 500,000 tickets. Per hour, the top end would be 15,000. We were so good, the other guys gave up; every major broker in the US gave us their credit card to buy tickets.”

Lowson now runs TixFan, a consultancy firm that works with teams and artists to fend off bots. He said: “The message we put out is that if I could make the bots then, I could kill the bots; and I can.”

The final session of the day saw Bernie Mullin, founder of The Aspire Group, look at the ticketing strategies sports stadiums and arenas can introduce to help fill their venues with excited, and often younger, supporters. Despite a focus on the future and the ‘millennial’ age group, Mullin picked out a certain tried and tested technique that should be considered.

“80 per cent of all our sales worldwide are because we followed up with a phone call; it’s old-fashioned, but it works,” said Mullin.

Professional footballer-turned marketing expert, Federico Smanio, spoke about the success of an ongoing digital growth strategy for Italy’s Lega B second tier, before Rick Jurkiewicz of the Rugby Football League outlined his plans to boost ticketing.

“We aim to provide everyone across the sport with the same ticketing platform,” Jurkiewicz said. “This way, we can track them, follow them an monetise them.”

And this was a key theme on day one of the forum – establishing a platform that not only works for customers, but also merchants; offering a secure way to buy tickets at a fair price for everyone.

Delegates will now head to the magnificent Croke Park for this year’s Ticketing Technology Awards, before returning tomorrow for another day of informative and though-provoking sessions!

What are people saying?

The best networking place I've been to. I was able to get very high level leads and meet relevant partners. You did a great great job to gather such high level and exhaustive people!

Chloé Julien Founder & CEO, BandSquare, France

CIOs, CTO,s Chief Execs... all those people turn up at this event. it’s a fantastic opportunity to engage with them

Rick Jurkiewicz Head of Ticketing, The Rugby Football League, UK

This is the focal point of the ticketing industry in Europe, where the decision-makers meet and exchange ideas

Niels Henrik Sodemann Managing Partner/CEO, Queue-it, Denmark

At the Forum we made concrete progress with regards to selecting a new ticketing provider. I would be happy to recommend the Forum to other venues in the future.

Martin O'Donoghue Business Development Manager, Cork Opera House, Ireland

If you’re curious about the future, if you want to see how things are developing, if you wanna get to know your peers... you need to be at the Forum.

James Charrington CEO, Dewynters, UK

For me the most important thing was to meet with all the different companies in ticketing and I’ve managed that, and I left with many business cards!

Grégory Six Major Projects and Development Manager, AS Monaco, Monaco