Vaccine Verification, No Paper Tickets: What Ticketmaster's Plan Tells Us About How Live Events Could Return
Thanks to promising news from Pfizer and Moderna regarding the two companies' COVID-19 vaccines, there’s a glimmer of hope that live events like concerts, full-capacity sporting events and trade shows could return sometime soon(ish). This is obviously great news for artists, sports teams, venues and people within the promotional products industry who count on these markets for business.
It’s still far too early to start penciling in live events for 2021, but Ticketmaster is planning ahead by creating a framework for what events could look like once a vaccine is rolled out. According to Billboard, Ticketmaster would use smartphones to verify that event attendees either received the vaccination or tested negative for the virus within a 24- to 72-hour window.
Also, to limit the potential of someone who was vaccinated or tested negative passing off their tickets to someone who hasn’t followed necessary safety protocols, Ticketmaster plans to eliminate paper tickets.
"Integrating ticketing platforms with the guests' verified testing results is one key way to reimagine how we’re going to get fans back to live events,” said Marianne Herman, co-founder and principal of reBUILD20, which helps live events companies develop safety strategies. “The experience of attending live events will look completely different, but innovation married with consistent implementation will provide a framework to get the live sports and event industry back to work.”
If this goes according to plan, there’s reason to believe that customers within the live event and performing arts industries would be once again placing merchandise orders as usual. Like anything else, though, there’s the potential for a hybrid system, as going from zero to packed venues still isn’t smart just yet. So, e-commerce platforms would still likely play an integral role in merchandise sales.
Further, because the venues would still have to follow local public health guidelines, masks would still likely be required in many venues. Should there be, by then, a mask safety certification standard, venues might look for certified masks for all in-house staff, or even distribute them to event-goers.
There’s also the implication for events like trade shows, which could use similar systems like third-party testing data to verify attendees have been vaccinated, ensuring there is minimal risk of viral spread on the show floor.
Ticketmaster plans to integrate testing data from platforms like IBM’s Digital Health Pass and eventual vaccine providers like CVS and Labcorp.
Once the test was complete, the fan would instruct the lab to deliver the results to their health pass company, like CLEAR or IBM. If the tests were negative, or the fan was vaccinated, the health pass company would verify the attendee's COVID-19 status to Ticketmaster, which would then issue the fan the credentials needed to access the event. If a fan tested positive or didn't take a test to verify their status, they would not be granted access to the event.
This plan comes with obvious concerns over the privacy and security of medical history. Billboard reported that Ticketmaster “will not store or have access to fans’ medical records, and would only receive verification of whether a fan is cleared to attend an event on a given date.”
Like trade show rules earlier this year, the guidelines will vary state to state, and there are still countless details to iron out. And eliminating paper tickets, if it catches on long-term, could negatively impact sales for the printed-products businesses that supply them and other physical forms of entry identification, like paper wristbands.
But, still, there's a light at the end of the tunnel for the live events industry.