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Mobile Ticketing: Movie Theaters, Sporting Events, Concert Venues, and More

Mobile ticketingWhen fans of the Twilight Series headed to the theater to see the second to last installment in the record-breaking movie series, many skipped the box office altogether. That's because they used a mobile ticketing service from a leading movie ticketing company.

Just in time for last month's highly-anticipated launch of Breaking Dawn, Part I, Fandango rolled out their mobile ticketing convenience service at select Regal Entertainment Group screens across the United States.

In big market theaters from Los Angeles to New York City, and in many smaller cities, like Nashville, Seattle, Honolulu, and Lexington, Kentucky, mobile ticketing makes it even easier to get out and watch movies on the big screen. Instead of buying and printing a ticket at home or standing in line at the box office or a theater kiosk, you can have your tickets delivered to a mobile device. Here's how it works.

Purchase tickets through a website or using an app on your mobile device. You'll then receive a text message on your phone or gain access via the purchase history of the app. The mobile ticket barcode is a QR code, described by Fandango as looking like "a broken chessboard." Redeeming your tickets is easy. Bypass the box office window and head directly to the ticket podium where a theater employee scans the QR code on your mobile device.

Can my phone receive bar code images?

A few technical details about how your phone should be equipped to use mobile ticketing services. If your phone is WAP or MMS-enabled, you can send and receive messages with attached images. While most people are familiar with SMS or Short Messaging Service or text messages, MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service, including text, images, photos, audio clips, and even video clips.
mobile ticketing
Wireless Application Protocol or WAP is a technology standard allowing wireless devices to browse the Internet or run Web applications. If you have a camera phone, then at a minimum your phone has MMS capabilities. If you have Web browsing capabilities, then you have WAP.

Applications of mobile ticketing

Mobile ticketing seems to have gotten rolling in about the year 2000, in specialized European and Japanese markets. Austria offered train ticketing by mobile device, while Japan embarked on mobile airline ticketing.

In the United States, Continental Airlines offered customers the option of boarding passes with bar codes sent to their mobile phones back in 2007, and legacy carriers Delta and American followed suit.

And major league baseball teams like the Washington Nationals and the Oakland A's offer a mobile ticketing service called Tickets@Phone for their fans.

Tickets for concerts, sporting events, and transportation services, like trains and airlines, offer intriguing possibilities for sellers and consumers. And since most modern facilities and service providers already use bar code readers and scanners for paper tickets, the technology needed to read mobile tickets may already in place.

Advantages of mobile ticketing

After rockers Guns N' Roses played the first official "ticketless" concert in London in 2006, concert promoters starting salivating over the possibilities. While hard-core fans may lament the disappearance of paper tickets as souvenirs, organizers see opportunity.

Convenience heads the list. Using a mobile ticketing app or by accessing a mobile website, you can purchase, store, and access your tickets at the event, without worrying about finding a printer or triggering extra processing charges. There's no need to stop at the ticket window or wait at will-call, instead you and your friends can head straight for the gate.

Concert promoters and ticket vendors also see additional revenue sources. Since text message delivery is almost instantaneous, organizers can sell tickets almost up to the start of the event, knowing that customers can easily make it to their seats in time. There may even be a primary or secondary market for selling unclaimed tickets from "no-shows" to fans willing to wait until the last minute.

While mobile ticketing programs require some advance set-up and publicity, processing costs for both buyers and sellers are lower. Neither the customer nor the ticket vendor pay for ticket printing and delivery. You can even make the case for a "greener" experience since there's less paperwork involved.

And extra security measures associated with mobile tickets can make fraud or theft almost impossible. Mobile tickets are more difficult to scalp, and can be "locked" to an individual's cell phone, so the text message can't be forwarded to another person. Identifying features like the customer's name and photograph can be added to the ticket for additional confirmation at the door.

Mobile ticketing, as with other forms of mobile commerce, continues to grow as buyers request additional services. And since potential revenue opportunities drive many technology developments, it's likely that you'll see a variety of industries adopt this lucrative and convenient alternative.


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