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Why Ticket Kiosks Aren’t as Economical as They Seem

Ah, the trusty self-service ticket kiosk. You can always depend on them to pop up at train stations, airport check-in desks and at the cinema. They’ve been around for a long time and are always a good alternative to braving long queues at the ticket desk — even if kiosks sometimes test your patience.

In theory, their queue-cutting benefits should make them a good fit for arts venues too. But they’re not always as straightforward as they seem and in a sector known for providing a more high touch and unique audience experience than an airport or the cinema, it’s wise to have a think about whether a kiosk is really a better alternative to in-person customer service than you think. Based on our own experiences, these are the questions we think everyone should be thinking about before they go ahead with them.

Is a kiosk the best representation of the customer service you intend to provide?

This might be one of the few opportunities you have to interact with your customer. What if someone sets foot inside your venue for the first time, do you really want a self service kiosk to be their first impression?

Have you properly thought through all the costs?

Kiosks represent a significant capital investment and you might be surprised at some of the additional, ongoing costs too. They include the fabrication of the unit, applying a finish that suits your venue and brand, the IT hardware and the network connection to your ticketing system. There might also be some development work required to integrate with your ticketing system and create a branded customer interface. You’ll probably also need some form of payment card reader, even if you’re just using the machines for collection. Finally, all of this will take maintenance and regular upgrades which you might need to pay for — and they’ll need to be tested thoroughly after any changes. Yikes.

Are you prepared for it to impact your sales?

If you want to be able to sell tickets from your kiosk, you’ll need to make the sales process more straightforward to account for the fact that kiosks are much less user-friendly than desktop computers and even tablets. This might mean a more stripped back purchase path with fewer opportunities to capture customer data, offer a cross-sell to another event or a better seat Ultimately, this all has a negative impact on your bottom line.

How do you plan to stay PCI compliant?

Kiosks need to be PCI compliant (the required industry standards relating to credit card security) and so you’ll need to think about how you’re going to handle and transmit card details. If you plan to install Chip & PIN devices, this will require specialist equipment approved for use in unattended transactions and supported by a payment processing provider.

Is there a more efficient way of achieving the same end?

Check that there aren’t more effective and efficient ways of achieving the thing you’re hoping to get from ticket kiosks. So if you want to reduce queues at the ticket desk, it might make more sense to implement print-at-home tickets and if possible, allow customers to present them on a mobile device when entering the venue (great for people who don’t have printers at home). You could also have a member of your front of house team on hand to chat to customers queuing for tickets and suggest they use their smartphone to book on the spot. Try using QR codes so that their mobile browser brings them straight to a mobile responsive booking page for that night’s show. Finally, if your ticketing system supports it, you could set up a small, satellite box office or a roaming box office with a tablet device to help customers who are less comfortable with booking tickets online themselves. These simple approaches enhance the experience for your visitors by reducing queues, offering a personal service and making use of technology they are already familiar with. Doesn’t that seem like a better — not to mention more cost-effective — approach to customer service?

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