By Derek Goodnature
Downloading and printing your Cubs tickets at home? That’s so 2016.
The Cubs announced last week that ticket buyers will no longer be able to download and print tickets at home. Instead, fans will have two options:
- Order hard copy tickets to be shipped or picked up at will call
- Receive digital tickets via MLB’s Ballpark mobile app
Teams have been slowly moving this way for a while: the Dodgers made the switch to all-digital tickets years ago with Tickets.com.
While some may decry the passing of Print at Home, there are some compelling reasons why this switch to digital will benefit teams and fans alike.
First, the proliferation of mobile devices makes it more convenient for fans to retain a digital ticket on their phones instead of having to print them at home and not misplace. Purchasers can still forward tickets to fellow attendees and sell their tickets on the secondary market, but the must use Ballpark’s in-app transfer feature.
Fans also derive an indirect benefit because the elimination of Print at Home is expected to drastically reduce ticket fraud: scammers will no longer be able to produce fraudulent tickets by editing PDF images to insert fake barcodes and misrepresent true seat location. And because the new mobile entry process requires ticket holders to log into their Ballpark app, the likelihood of being turned away at the venue because your barcode was already scanned is effectively zero. If you don’t own a mobile device or prefer to pick up your tickets at the event, you still have the option to receive physical tickets at will call the day of the event.
This shift to mobile also benefits teams. Being able to differentiate financial patrons (those who bought the tickets) from attending patrons (those who actually attended the event) will allow teams to capture valuable information about their fans and create a custom experience for them. This could include special offers, promotions, and other targeted marketing. And by having visibility into digital ticket transfers and delaying the delivery of physical tickets until the day of the event, teams will regain some control over how their tickets migrate onto the secondary market.
The era of Print at Home was good for fans while it lasted. But the demand for greater convenience and the endless arms race between scammers and event providers forces ticket technology to rapidly evolve. The shift to mobile apps represents the latest stage in this evolution, and from what I see, it’s going to be a great era for fans and issuers alike.