GET update April ’20 — Leaning into the wind

How we are using strange conditions to channel additional momentum.

Olivier Biggs
Apr 30, 2020 · 11 min read

The lockdown is working. Worldwide, the presence of the COVID-19 virus is decreasing and countries are looking at ways to reopen societies in a safe and controlled way. We can start to look ahead and focus on solutions. Something we’ve been doing at GUTS/GET since day 1 of the lockdown.

In this blog we’ll present several of the opportunities that we have our eyes on and are in the midst of seizing.

But let’s think of others before we think of ourselves, shall we? Here’s a rundown of this blog’s content:

→ How is the ticketing industry doing?
A look at the ticketing market and why digital tickets matter, especially now.

→ What we are up to
The current state of the world has led the team to some creative technical and business possibilities.

→ Korean update
How are things progressing in South Korea?

→ Development update
Product Owner Frans Twisk walks us through some of the biggest features released in the past month.

How is the ticketing industry doing?

Dishonest to the very end
We have a saying in Holland that roughly translates to ‘tall trees catch the most wind’, meaning the bigger and more present you are, the more resistance you meet. That seems to be the case for the larger ticketing companies these days, who have all taken substantial losses.

You’d almost feel bad for them, if they weren’t showing their true colors along the way. They are shitty, dishonest trees and I would venture as far as to say that shitty, dishonest trees deserve every gust of wind they get, but that’s a personal opinion and clearly opaque enough to avoid any legal repercussion.

It started with resale platform StubHub quietly doing a 180 on their refund policy over a matter of weeks.

On Feb. 26, StubHub’s general counsel was hailing the company’s “FanProtect” program to Congress as “the hallmark of our business and it is why we have earned the trust of fans around the globe.” By March 12, StubHub was nudging consumers toward a coupon valued at 120 percent of the original purchase even while acknowledging, “Our policy is to provide a full refund with fees if an event is canceled.” But by March 25, refunds were only provided to buyers “where required by law” as the 120 percent coupon became the default policy. — Source

You can argue that times are tough and there might not be a lot of cash on hand for companies, were it not that StubHub had been purchased for over 4 billion dollars just a few months prior by competitor Viagogo. (Evil loves company.)

Anyway, the change in policy didn’t sit well with everyone and has lead to legal action.

Ticketmaster was then inspired by StubHub and went: ‘hold my beer.’

‘Their anger is being stoked by the sense that some vendors switched their refund policies mid-crisis to avoid repaying consumers. Fans have drawn attention to the fact that Ticketmaster recently adjusted the language on its website. Whereas a few weeks ago, it said that people can get refunds “if your event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled,” now it only lists cancellation as a basis for getting your money back, though it suggests there may be other circumstances in which refunds might be considered.’ Source:

And, sure enough, they got sued as well. This is not something they aren’t used to of course, and this news was quickly dwarfed by the revelation that Saudi Arabia invested half a billion dollars into their parent company LiveNation. You know, normal stuff.

Lots of events rescheduled, lots of chaos
Now all this sketchiness was somewhat to be expected, but it is just the beginning of the problems for consumers who bought tickets through the secondary market.

Nearly every event has been postponed, cancelled or moved online. This is bad news for everyone, but especially for those consumers who were forced to buy their tickets from traditional ticketing companies.

Refresher: dumb tickets = bad, smart tickets = good.

With traditional, ‘dumb’ tickets:
→ There is no way to know who the current owner of a ticket is, and notifying them of changes or important information can be extremely difficult or even impossible. After all, who do you contact?

→ The same goes for issuing refunds. If a consumers buys tickets off one of the many secondary markets, it becomes impossible to track them down and notify them. This results in ticket issuers not even trying to reach individual fans, but rather leaving them to figure it out themselves.

→ In some cases the refund is only issued to the original purchaser of the ticket. A bizarre approach that only makes things worse, as ticket brokers and others who are not even attending the event are able to profit twice (marked-up sale + refund) while actual fans are left with useless PDF files and an empty wallet.

With user-friendly smart tickets:
→ In the case of a postponement, digital tickets can instantly be adjusted to a new date or venue. This takes place in the digital wallet of the fan and requires no action on the fan’s part.

→ 100% of ticket holders are reached with the push of a button, notifying them of what they need to know within seconds. This provides clarity and avoids a ton of support questions. (And unnecessary negativity.)
By taking away this hassle and uncertainty, organisers can maintain a good connection with their visitors and sustain goodwill for future events.

→ Should the changed conditions not be to the liking of the fan, they can directly put their ticket up for sale or ask for a refund, depending on the terms of the organiser.

Bottom line: digital tickets save huge amounts of time and frustration, for organisers and fans. The current times are proving this more than ever.

What we are up to

Whether they know it or not, the entire world is looking for a digital ticketing system. It’s going to take control and creativity to return life back to normal, and control and creativity is exactly what we are offering.

We are taking this time to optimise our system and its availability for the period ahead.

Thinking outside of the box

An obvious challenge for the upcoming time is how to open up venues and public spaces as quickly as possible in a safe way. We are convinced that our system can be a crucial role in this process, and we are talking to a wide variety of organisations, venues and artists to work towards viable solutions.

The digital nature of our system doesn’t just make it easy to reschedule or cancel events as described above, there are many advantages that can make a difference.

For example, our seating algorithm can be tweaked to automatically keep a safe distance between visitors. This provides venues and visitors the much-needed certainty of knowing their attendance is safe and responsible. We can even seat larger groups of people together that pose no risk of infecting each other, such as families that have been quarantined together already.

Traditional seat pickers won’t be relevant for most venues. With limited, specific capacity becoming the new normal, there is a clear added value in maximising the seating experience in this way.

Taking such pro-active measures can mean that venues have the chance to open their doors earlier than expected.

Right now, performance venues and nightclubs are closed until September 1st, but there is talk of exceptions if the venues abide by clear safety protocols.

Extending a hand

In Holland, the Dutch government issued a statement saying that all companies and initiatives should contribute and think about how to help beat the virus and make the country more liveable. So we did.

GUTS Tickets submitted an extensive description of all the possibilities our system provides. GET Protocol & GUTS Tickets CEO Maarten Bloemers then published a blog with the content of this submission, in order to reach more potential partners and get the word out. From his blog:

Now that we are thinking about a world post-quarantine, the goal is to find possible ways of bringing life back to ‘normal’ in an efficient and considerate way. GUTS Tickets will gladly contribute to this effort.

Below is largely taken from our submission to the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, which was sent to explore potential collaborations with other parties. The eventual solution(s) will no doubt require collaborations, which can’t begin soon enough.

Read the full blog post below, you can find the Dutch version here.

This blog was then picked up by CoinTelegraph:

‘Dutch company GUTS has come up with a novel blockchain-based system for managing crowds in public places to minimize risks as pandemic restrictions are eased.’

This outreach has led to new contacts and opportunities, which we’ll briefly go over.

Stepping into new realms

At GUTS we have previously made the conscious decision to target industries one by one, obviously beginning with the live events that we have been doing for a few years now, and actively expanding our horizon as we grow.

The current conditions have kicked into gear the expansion of this horizon, as we are now in talks with parties from a wide variety of sectors. Below is an impression of these sectors and some specific opportunities for each one.

Museums
Before museums can open their doors again, there is an urgent need for real-time visitor regulation and instant capacity for the down- & upscaling of visitors. Our system allows for custom timeslots to be set, upsells for specific expositions to be added and live monitoring of attendance from the organiser dashboard.

Municipalities
Municipalities are anxious to give their inhabitants clarity about the possibility to visit places such as beaches, parks, woods and shops.

While allowing people to visit these places is good for local economies and citizen welfare in general, without clear communication this could lead to unsafe situations and possible renewed waves of infections.

Timeslots allow for controlled access of specific areas, and direct messages can be sent to specific ticketholders to inform them of crucial information, such as changes of availability or reminders about the rules.

Work & school
Less obvious perhaps, but potentially very relevant. Large offices, campuses and public working spaces need to provide their users with safe systems and clear guidelines on attendance. Facilitating and registering attendance can help open doors much quicker.

Digital experiences
(Live)streaming will likely be more for the foreseeable future than it already has been. Of course, these events require a right to access just as a concert was in the B.C. years. (Before Corona.) For this, the connection between artist and fan is crucial —our system not only provides access to shows and allows for direct communication; it also helps up-and-coming artists build a database of involved fans that can be leveraged for new events and marketing purposes.

We’ll keep you up to date on progress in these or other sectors. If you have a suggestion or connection you think we should explore, please let us know!

Korean update

A quick note about Korea. The country has been remarkably successful in the fight against COVID-19, and it is beginning to look like it will be opening up soon. This past month, public elections were held which garnered a record 66% turnout (counting both mail-in and in-person voting)

Another terrific sign is the upcoming start of the popular Korean baseball season, in early May.

Our partners in Korea are quickly getting everything ready for when a timeline arises on the possibility of K-Pop shows, so they will be prepared when first sales can take place. The GET Protocol team has used this extra time to scale up the technical capabilities, but more on that below.

Meanwhile, check out the interview with our CEO on the Korean HKB News below.

Part 1: The opportunities in South Korea and the plans for adoption in the upcoming year.

Part 2: The benefits of truly digital, blockchain-backed tickets.

Development update

From Product Owner Frans Twisk

The product team is more productive than ever! We’ve adjusted our workflow to improve working more individually (from home) and are currently focussing on designing some features specifically useful in this turbulent world of Corona. But as always, we’d like to highlight achievements, not announcements. So here goes:

Scaling our queue and building a pre-queue

We are expecting tons of interest in the Korean K-pop events that are being set-up, and to handle millions of potential people, we have scaled our queue service across multiple machines.

This means we can assure potential ticket-buyers to have the best experience while waiting for their turn. Next to that, we’re adding a flow called “pre-queuing” where people can already subscribe before the sale has even started. This will also spread out any high spikes, but more importantly: each entry is randomised, so it’s more honest for everyone.

Shops upsell flow & tabs
We extended our “Ticket Shops” feature to include pages and tabs. This means organisers can now divide their shops into several steps and/or categories: sell your tickets on the main page and offer upsells like tokens, parking-tickets and merchandise on the next. A highly anticipated feature!

Scanning profiles
Organisers are now able to build their own scanning “profiles” and load these into the Android / iOS Get Protocol Scanner app. This means they can limit what certain scanners can do, like only accept certain tickets on entrance 1, and others at entrance 3. Or only allow certain upsell products to be claimed at the merch-stand. This will make the event scanning even easier!

Of course this isn’t nearly all. Besides smaller add-ons and the usual bug fixes, we are still improving and adding features to our new resale market, which we will launch as a whole when we are truly happy about it and it’s stable.

That’s it for this time — we look forward to updating you already on everything that’s underway right now. Until then, stay safe and healthy.

More about GET Protocol

As always, if you have comments, questions or suggestions, please drop in to our active Telegram channel here.

Our Korean Telegram channel can be found here, and the GET Naver page is here.

If you want to know more about what we do, read our whitepaper, visit our website, or join the discussion on the GET Protocol Reddit.

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