Ticketmaster launches Website

Ticketmaster, the UK’s leading ticket retailer, is scheduled to launch a real-time online service this Wednesday (May 6), offering UK consumers the chance to book tickets to a wide range of theatrical, musical, and sporting events.

Tickets to major pop concerts and festivals, classical concerts, Royal Shakespeare Company performances, West End hits such as Chicago, and fixtures at Premiership football clubs including Aston Villa, Coventry, Everton, Wimbledon and West Ham will be available for booking on the site.

The move, which follows the launch of a number of rival niche entertainment booking services such as EMAP Online’s What’s On Stage and Aloud.com in recent months, follows a dramatic expansion in revenues generated through Ticketmaster’s US online booking service (www.ticketmaster.com).

Ticketmaster, which launched its US site 18 months ago, achieved 1 million consumer online ticket sales in 1997, worth $39m (23m). Ticket sales volume through the site in March reached 196,000.

Jules Boardman, managing director of Ticketmaster UK, says: “The success of our US Website demonstrates that there is an enormous appetite for real-time ticket buying on the Web.”

Kate Hampton, director of marketing at Ticketmaster, says the online service will extend rather than cannibalise sales already achieved through Ticketmaster’s existing 34 retail sites and network of customised onsite box offices and telephone-based ticket sales operations.

“We are offering the service to improve the convenience to customers of booking and enquiring about ticket availability,” according to Hampton, former business development director at ITV.

“Ticketmaster will not offer consumers the chance to buy tickets any more cheaply than they are available through existing telephone services,” according to Hampton. “There are costs involved in developing the system and our telephone service is already very efficient. So we intend offering our online service at a par to our call centre service.”

Ticketmaster deliberately decided to avoid any premature launch of an online ticketing service in Britain until its management team was confident Internet use in Britain had reached satisfactory levels, and security issues had been addressed, says Hampton.

“Technically, we wanted the US site to operational, and everybody perfectly happy with it, before we moved on to launching online in other territories,” she says.

“From a design point of view, we have avoided huge graphics which might slow download times. It’s designed to be very text-based – to make it quick to search and quick to book.”

The group has already launched additional ticketing site for Australia and Canada.

Ticketmaster will not be directly promoting its online ticketing service (www.ticketmaster.co.uk). Instead, clients are expected to feature the Website address alongside telephone sales numbers in their own advertising and promotional activity for events.

New Media Marketing & Sales has been appointed to sell banner advertising and sponsorship on the site, and has already signed up LineOne and Interflora as launch sponsors.

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