Alexa Users Can Buy Tickets with Ticketmaster Alexa Skill
Last week Ticketmaster announced the development of an Alexa skill that allows users to buy tickets with voice commands. The announcement blog post states that for now, the skill is only available in the US, but that the company is planning on expanding the skill’s reach to more countries in the near future. Ticket discovery is a large focus of the skill. Users can search for specific events by the event name, a city, date range, artist, or team name. For example, users can search by saying “Find concerts in Houston” or “What time is Wicked in New York City?” In order to purchase a ticket with the Alexa skill, a user must link their Ticketmaster account to their Alexa app. Dan Armstrong, SVP and GM of Distributed Commerce at Ticketmaster said in a press release,
Ticketmaster has the largest ticket inventory in the world, and our team is always looking to leverage it along with our open platform to reach new fans. This new integration with Alexa will offer yet another avenue for fans to access the best live events, allowing them to discover and buy tickets using only their voice. We’re excited to be working with Amazon Alexa and look forward to seeing fans utilizing it to see the artists, teams, and events they love the most.
Ticketmaster also worked with Samsung Bixby in Summer 2018, to allow users to browse upcoming events and then purchase tickets.
Amazon’s History with Selling Tickets
In 2017, Reuters reported that Amazon was seeking to partner with U.S. venue owners to sell event tickets. Apparently, the plan was for Amazon to sell tickets at a lower price to it’s Amazon Prime members, which would, in turn, shake up Ticketmaster’s hold as the largest ticket retailer.
The plan was eventually abandoned by Amazon after the company was unable to reach a deal with Live Nation to access tickets of high-demand events. Live Nation Entertainment is the parent company of Ticketmaster, Roc Nation, Live Nation Concerts, Front Line Management Group, Live Nation Network, C3 Presents, and AC Entertainment.
Reportedly, Amazon had been talking with Ticketmaster about becoming a distributor for about nine months before the deal fell through. Amazon had offered to sell top-tier inventory to its huge consumer base but wanted to maintain exclusive rights of purchasing data and contact information of its around 85 million Prime members. Ticketmaster controls 80 percent of the major concerts in the United States. It didn’t need help to sell tickets.
Reuters also reported that Amazon began selling tickets in Britain in 2015, and occasionally outsold Ticketmaster at some events. However, in February 2018, Billboard reported that Amazon was ending it’s U.K. ticketing, with unofficial plans to relaunch its ticketing ventures with Amazon Echo integration in 2019. Then in October 2018, a UK Alexa skill for London Theatre Direct launched, allowing users to purchase theatre tickets using voice commands. In December 2018, the Atom Tickets skill for Alexa was launched, allowing U.S. users to buy Atom Cinema Tickets. Turns out the rumors were right.
Selling and Searching for Tickets a Small Use Case With Potential to Become Larger
Voice assistants have quite a bit of potential as ticket sellers. Tickets can be sold for an incredibly wide range of events, and services. Tickets can also be sold at incredibly varied rates. Poor seating in the back of a venue may cost around $50, while the best seats up front may be $422. And that, of course, will vary by purchase date, venue, the popularity of the artist or sports game, and other factors. Companies of all kinds recognize the potential and have begun the process of implementing ticket selling voice applications, however, it is not yet a popular use case.
Google Assistant actions allow users to buy movie tickets with Fandango, check in for flights with United Airlines and book hotel rooms via voice commands, too. As of January 2019, Google reported it was working with Choice Hotels, AccorHotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, in addition to Priceline, Expedia, Mirai, and Travelclick. A user requesting to book a hotel room will pull up availability, pricing, booking, and payment using existing Google Pay credentials.
In May of 2017 StubHub, launched a skill for Microsoft Cortana, focused on helping users to find and discover live events and experiences with Cortana. Users can say “Cortana, ask StubHub to find me something fun to do tonight” or “Cortana, ask StubHub to find baseball tickets for next week.”
In the Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report from January 2019, ‘make a purchase’ was the lowest recorded use case in all three frequency categories (ever tried, monthly, and daily). However, consider the use case ‘search for product info,’ which was the eleventh most popular use-case recorded. Searching for tickets certainly falls under that, which indicates that spending the time to make a company’s products easily searchable by voice is pretty important to voice assistant users. Ticketmaster’s implementation of search by the event name, a city, date range, artist, or team name is a significant feature that considers changing consumer behaviors.