When Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) launched its 4G services recently, in a star-studded event at Ghansoli, a suburb in Navi Mumbai, online-ticketing portal BookMyShow (BMS) provided its spectator management services. BookMyShow employees checked the ticket, at this “invite only” event, verified identities and ushered the visitors to their seats.
Spectator management is now a major part of BMS’s non-movie revenue stream. According to the company, non-movie business constitutes 40 per cent of its revenue stream.
“Events have grown in the country over the past few years. Now, we have a number of music festivals and concerts. Since we are a tech company, we realise we can help streamline the spectator experience beyond just providing tickets online,” says Anil Makhija, vice-president (service delivery) at BMS.
A part of this new vertical helps consumers pick up the tickets physically as well. While spectators can book tickets online, BMS ties up with vendors and retail outlets, which act as pick-up points for the physical tickets. At the same time, those who are still sceptical of transacting online can buy the tickets from these touch points in the old fashioned way.
“According to regulations, one needs an official stamp for entertainment tax purposes, which means audiences need to have a physical ticket,” said Makhija. This, however, means the Network18 company spends manpower and resource, which can be capital-intensive at these touch points. Makhija hopes this model will evolve.
“(A stamped ticket) was the case with theatres as well, but there has been some movement on that front and some chains have started accepting paper-less tickets,” he added.
BMS is also boosting its on-ground service with respect to vendors, where it provides a food management system to eateries at events. BMS can also deploy portable turnstiles, which can be transported from one venue to another with ease. These turnstiles, which read barcodes and give entry, are manned by BMS employees and volunteers from the event (if any), who help the visitors with gate entry and guide them around the venue. Where the event scale does not require these turnstiles, BMS employees or “touch-points”, as Makhija refers to them, are armed with personal digital assistants (PDAs) to help with entry.
“The PDAs can be used to validate a ticket and provide entry at the venue and guide people to the sections of their venue. We provide smart cards at these venues, which can be used for entry, buying merchandise and/or food. For (music festival) Sunburn this year, we have developed near-filed communication bands that have been delivered to everyone who has bought a ticket. With it, people can enter, interact on social media and buy things at the fest,” Makhija said.
The technology used for these services also serves as a means to gather consumer data. It helps record preferences in seating, choice of food and merchandise. Makhija said this data can also be shared with the contracted vendor for the event, if need be.
As an extension of the on-ground services, BMS is developing the technology for smaller events where the organiser can take ownership of a micro-site on the portal. Here, the organiser can manage ticket sales, seat allocation, advertisement and other matters pertaining to the event. The technology is in its pilot stage and will be rolled out soon.
The data from this event will be accessible to BMS and the company can then run targeted advertising campaigns to drive more hits to the site.
While on-ground services is a focus area for BMS, Makhija reiterated, ticket sales would continue to be the core revenue driver for the company. The spectator management vertical is still in investment phase and is not expected to overtake movie ticket sales anytime soon.