Maureen Anderson, president and CEO of INTIX for 40 days, pledges to take the show on the road. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM NEW ORLEANS — Amazon Tickets and what it will look like was the elephant in the room at INTIX here Jan. 24-26. Not to say they were here, at least not exhibiting here, but their pending entry into ticketing in the U.S. was the topic of speculation throughout the three-day conference of ticketing professionals.

Amazon’s ticketing model in the U.K. is retail only. Whether that’s the direction they will take in the U.S. and whether they can go that direction, is unknown. Will they buy ticketing companies and become a primary? Will they be a secondary retail site, partnering with venues and ticketing companies?

It is known that in November, they hired Leigh Castergine as head of business development, Sports & Entertainment, for Amazon Tickets and they posted 15 job openings: “Amazon Tickets is a startup business with a vision of becoming Earth’s most customer-centric ticketing company, a place where event-goers can come to find and discover any ticket they might want to buy online. Amazon launched the Tickets business in the UK in 2015 and today offers customers the ability to purchase tickets to music, theater and comedy events at great prices with a convenient purchase experience and world-class customer support. As we grow our team to support our rapid expansion, we are looking for talented individuals to join us in delighting customers and having some fun along the way.”

Other than that, the jury is out and one source said Amazon Tickets is going after more high-profile hires but prefers to keep it all low-key until they work out a plan. That cannot keep the industry from speculating — and perhaps salivating — about what Amazon could mean to moving tickets.

As expected, mobile ticketing was also widely discussed, and here it was about the nitty gritty of how and where it works. While there is agreement, it is the future; for some it is not yet doable. Some venues have to encourage patrons to download their mobile ticket to an app prior to entering the venue where WiFi is not up to speed. But on the upside, it is a boon to some artists seeking to curtail scalping by using delayed delivery. That’s more effective than paperless to some believers.

Rami Essaid, Distil Networks, told INTIX attendees that the BOT Act of 2016 puts the onus on the venue or ticketing company to prove the law was broken. The federal law makes it illegal to use a BOT (code written to act as a website, short for robot) to purchase tickets if the venue has a roadblock in place. If there is no technology in place to circumvent, no law is broken.

Secondly, the buyer/reseller has to get caught. The law is administered by the Federal Trade Commission, but the technology is in the industry’s hands. “They have to be able to tie the first and second sale together,” Essaid said. Artists will demand the technology be in place to prevent BOTs from buying tickets.

“Right now, that’s soft,” Essaid said. “There is not much onus on you, but in the future, there will be.”

BOTs are also used for online fraud and denial of service attacks and that is only increasing, he added.

Dealing with the BOTs threat comes at a time when more and more artists are also curtailing or even eliminating box office sales, unless state law requires it. 21 Pilots and Eric Church are among artists who want no walkup sales at box offices. 

Jena Hoffman accepts the Patricia G. Spira Lifetime Achievement Award from Richard Powers, Wolftrap, Vienna, Va., chairman of the INTIX Awards Committee. (VT Photo)

INTIX 2017 honors went to: Jena Hoffman, former president of INTIX, the Patricia G. Spira Lifetime Achievement Award; Judy Webb, The Grand Opera House, Outstanding Ticketing Professional; Jennifer Butler, Ravinia Festival, Young Ticketing Professional, and Shawn Robertson, L.A.Theater Group, Spirit Award.

Maureen Andersen, new INTIX president and CEO, reiterated her pledge that INTIX is on the road to change and “on the road.” Anywhere ticketing is in the conversation, INTIX will be in the mix, she said. Certification is also on the agenda for the association, “if it makes sense financially and emotionally.”