Flipping the script: how Covid is shaping theatre’s online future

The pandemic is rapidly changing the way businesses in the leisure and culture industry operate: faced with restrictions to in-person events, ever more shows and concerts are moving online, and ticket buying is becoming a completely digital experience.

The last few seasons have been some of the most challenging on record for the live arts. And with tough restrictions still in place, these remain uncertain times. But thanks to the sector’s digitisation, shows and plays are reopening once again: theatres are using new technologies to protect their business model and keep their audiences entertained.

Raising the curtain on mobile ticketing

First cinemas started taking their businesses online, then theatres followed suit. Rooted in tradition and focused on the live experience, theatres have long resisted joining the online world. But now that they have, their ticket sales have exploded exponentially.

Today, theatregoers can not only use their mobile phone to buy tickets, but to access a range of other features: they can read a show’s synopsis, check out the trailer, and find out about the actors, similar works, schedules and passes. They can even join the waiting list for new shows and get a mobile notification when the tickets become available. They don’t even need to get a friend to print their ticket any more, just a QR code.

As the pandemic makes many aspects of life more complicated, audiences want simple solutions. So they appreciate the fact that buying and storing tickets on your mobile is faster, more convenient and – as well as being more sustainable – eliminates the risk of losing your tickets or having them stolen.

This contactless ticketing system also offers major benefits for theatres – helping them to improve access control and create new cross-selling opportunities, by creating personalised tickets with discounts in nearby bars and restaurants, or adverts from related brands, which theatregoers can access at the click of a button.

Putting safety and security centre stage

Faced with strict, covid-related safety protocols, mobile ticket apps have become a vital way for promoters, theatres and venues to ensure their events’ safety: they can send their audiences notifications before a show, explaining the rules they’ll need to follow and asking them to accept them before arriving. They can also send them push notifications during and after an event, even if the app is turned off – either for security reasons or marketing.

The security of blockchain-based mobile ticketing platforms like TIXNGO is well established – not just for shows, but for venues, attractions and events. This technology prevents fraud and ensures that tickets dont’t reach the secondary market – offering huge benefits for theatres, as well as for their audiences – who also enjoy a simpler, more personalised buying experience.

Streaming: this season’s must-see event

Although theatres follow strict health and safety protocols, many people are still afraid to spend time in closed spaces, so they’re choosing to watch plays and concerts online. Of course, a streamed concert at home isn’t the same as being in the crowd at the live event, but it’s safer and easier. So as long as people are reluctant to attend events in person, they’re likely to keep streaming cultural events.

Ultimately, theatre’s future will be determined by what audiences want – both in terms of safe, enjoyable experiences and an easy ticket buying experience. So although it’s hard to tell what the final impact of the pandemic will be on Spain’s theatres, one thing is clear: to flourish in these challenging times, digitisation is the way forward.