SeatGeek: Payments Orchestration Plays Maestro To Live Event Business Comeback

Payments Orchestration Critical To Events Comeback

After a little over a year of being on lockdown, people are ready to get back out there.

That is the takeaway from a PYMNTS survey on the past, present and future of the digital consumer. It’s not true for everything, of course. When it comes to going to work or going grocery shopping, consumers seem more content to stick with the digital habits they’ve formed. But when it comes to seeing friends, traveling or going to events, nearly two-thirds of consumers are representing a strong desire to return to the world and start having some fun.

This means after a long fallow period in the industry, a wave of pent up demand is about to come crashing through the events and leisure segment as consumers get back to sporting events, concerts, plays and performances — all of the things where there is simply no substitute for actually being there SeatGeek’s Director of Payment and Risk Operations Shawn Kelley told PYMNTS.

“The emotional experience that you get from going to a live event — whether that’s a sporting event or a concert — it is something that can’t be replicated any other way,” Kelley said. “There have been tons of online concerts and different events that have tried to go online with some measure of success, but the piece that is missing is that emotional connection that you get with the experience and more importantly with the people you’re with.”

Kelley joined PYMNTS and Spreedly Director of Solutions Engineering and Professional Services Daniel Scagnelli for a conversation about what comes next for the events industry as a whole as vaccine rollout and the deep freeze that has held the segment in stasis for the last year begins to thaw.

It’s a thaw that can’t come quickly enough for most people, as just about everyone is ready to get off their couches and go do something, Kelley said. It won’t start tomorrow, however. The summer concert season won’t kick off as usual in late spring 2021. The big tours aren’t going to risk planning a massive expedition until there is a high enough level of confidence that they can pull off 100 percent capacity and not risk refunds again. But, given the speed of vaccine rollouts, that confidence is coming sooner than later, perhaps by the fall, and certainly by 2022, so expect tours to roll out again.

And expect consumers to buy tickets for music events, theater, sports and more at staggering rates, Kelley and Scagnelli both agreed. That puts pressure on the entire events industry to up the quality of its technological game, particularly around payments, to meet the rapidly rising tide of demand.

“Ticketing is interesting because it isn’t a typical eCommerce flow where you can say, ‘Oh, sorry, we’re having a problem. Try your purchase again in a few minutes and you can hold something in a basket,” Kelley said. “We’re working with Spreedly on payments orchestration as it gives us the ability to build a flexible and resilient system that can handle those bursts in activity.”

Building For The Next Evolution

The last year hasn’t seen much in the way of ticket sales, but that hasn’t meant the team at SeatGeek has been taking time off waiting for things to start back up, Kelley said. The firm doesn’t define itself as a ticketing agency but as a tech firm that helps consumers optimize their ticket purchases. The last year has been an unprecedented opportunity to improve and expand its offering to consumers on the tech side to better meet current needs.

Kelley said to anticipate what the next era might need, SeatGeek asked itself questions: How do we improve our box office software? How do we improve the desktop web experience? How do we build a seating manifesto for socially distant seating in a stadium or add a COVID-19 questionnaire or a place to upload vaccination data?

Payments orchestration helps provide the infrastructure that’s ready to scale as demand surges post-pandemic, Scagnelli explained. Having a partner like Spreedly provides SeatGeek the bandwidth necessary to “focus on all of the wonderful innovation that is underway and not have to lose sleep over, ‘Will our infrastructure scale when that next big event finally goes on sale post-pandemic?’”

Increasingly, digitizing payments sits at the center of every innovation. From validating payments credentials to verifying that people are whom they say they are to in-seat event purchasing — the more ticketing and events move away from paper-based interactions, he said, the more necessary digital wallet centralization becomes.

At the end of the day, consumers don’t care whether their payment is directed through Adyen or Braintree, he said. They care that their buying experience is seamless, safe and, increasingly, that it is touchless.

“This is the start of the future value that we’re going to see from payments orchestration layers to the space,” Scagnelli said. “People are tired of sitting in the house. They don’t want to sit around and wait for their payment checkout page to spin up. That user experience is going to be critical, and payments orchestration helps solve those problems for these businesses.”