Tuesday October 18th, 2016

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The Dallas Cowboys were one of the first franchises to experiment with mobile ticketing, and a season and a half later, the team is seeing positive but now returns on the shift away from paper. 

Doug Dawson, the Cowboys’ VP of ticket sales and service, had heard about other organization’s experimentation with mobile entry leading up to the 2015–16 season. Yet the Cowboys wanted to reach more than just the 3–6% of fans who were in the market at the time, according to Dawson.

With an ongoing partnership with Ticketmaster, the Cowboys reported that mobile entry adoption made up almost 21% of all attendance at AT&T Stadium last year, with single-game ticket-holders utilizing mobile entry at a rate of more than 80%.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been working with teams, like the Cowboys, to really explore the benefits of pushing fans to mobile,” said Jared Smith, Ticketmaster president of North America. “How do you educate and push people to mobile to use the technology, which is both better for them and the team?

“If you can make (mobile ticketing) work at AT&T Stadium, you can make it work anywhere.”

Dawson added, “When we went to mobile, that gave us a second type of way for fans to enter. We took the PDF right out of the mix. It is much harder to replicate mobile than an 8-by-11 sheet of paper.”

Fraud with paper tickets and PDF print-outs had been an issue for Dallas, as it still is for many professional and college sports teams. As Dawson explained, fans would either copy a PDF ticket and gain entry or purchase a cheaper seat but use of a photocopy of a club-level seat in order to gain access to different amenities at the stadium.

Dawson said that on less popular game days, there could be roughly 20 cases of fraud, but for marquee matchups, the more than 400 cases could be reported. In leveraging Ticketmaster’s verified tickets mobile technology over the past two seasons, the team has seen its instances of fraud significantly decrease, although a rough estimate wasn’t provided.

Still, the Cowboys have seen ancillary benefits toward the mobile push, including reduced lines in the club-level areas, a better overall experience for premium seat holders, smoother game days and a morale boost in the ticket office.

While issues of fraud won’t be completely eliminated through mobile, Smith is optimistic that team executives will see the benefits of mobile ticketing, which has been in existence for close to five years. According to Smith, it is a matter of educating teams, venues and fans about how mobile can positively impact operations, expedite scanning customers into venues and streamline ticketing altogether.

“You can show real value and real convenience,” Smith said. “Fans have better control and security. Teams have a little smoother option and decreased fraud. . . . There is also a much better understanding of who is in the venue and who your fans are with mobile adoption.”

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