Below is our recent interview with Connor Thinnes, VP of Marketing at HomeTown Ticketing:
Q: Connor, can you tell us something more about the company and your core business?
A: HomeTown Ticketing is the leading digital ticketing provider for high-schools and colleges across the U.S. HomeTown developed a professional-level and fully automated event management solution that has been largely adopted by local school districts providing easy-to-use purchasing and redemption options, custom box-offices, event and fan specific reporting tools and secure financial management feature. HomeTown Ticketing issued their first digital ticket in 2016 as part of a pilot program at an Ohio high school. Today, HomeTown has ticketed more than 300K events across the country and works with high schools in all 50 states including most high schools with athletics in states like Utah, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas.
Q: Can you tell us more about your insight of how/why the demand for digital ticketing is growing among high schools?
A: Digital ticketing really started to take hold nationwide toward the end of 2018. For fans, the demand came largely as a result of millennial parents wanting more convenient options. The way parents and students communicate with their schools has evolved to a digital platform – from accessing homework and grades, to purchasing school lunches and books it’s almost exclusively done online.
In addition, standard ticketing relied on cash being exchanged for paper tickets at the gate or to be purchased in advance at the school. It required time and effort on the part of the fan. It also left room for accounting errors and the risk of misplaced or stolen funds with cash on hand until it could be manually deposited by the school administrator. Hometown’s app platform allows fans to purchase and manage all their tickets at the touch of a button, and the funds are available in real time for the school to see and automatically deposited in the school’s account at the time of purchase. The entire process requires far less time, is more secure and convenient.
Q: Can you give us more insights into how HomeTown has helped drive this shift?
A: The biggest barrier to elementary and high schools remaining on the sidelines of digital ticketing has mainly been upfront cost. Hometown’s approach has flipped that issue on its head by creating a model with no upfront costs to schools. Any revenue generated is based on ticket sales, which means it is the same cost, whether a school population is 200 or 2,000. The other barrier is service. School administrators are not technology experts and shouldn’t have to be. Hometown’s customer service sets the industry standard. Schools have a 24 hour a day line of communication to Hometown’s expert staff for any issue.
Q: How long do you think the momentum will keep at this pace?
A: Since 2018 the industry has seen slow and steady growth. Just this year the volume of schools adopting a digital ticketing platform has significantly increased as more schools are educated about the options available and the benefits to both fans and the schools. We’re starting to see a bit of a snowball effect. At the end of 2021, we estimate about 15% of high schools utilized digital tickets for games and events. By the end of 2022 we’re expecting 25% of high schools to be enrolled with a digital ticketing platform and that number will continue to grow annually until the majority (or all) of the athletic high schools in the U.S. have a digital ticketing option.
Q: Do you think this is eventually something ALL high schools in the U.S will move to? Do you anticipate a ceiling at some point?
A: In the next 5-8 years, we anticipate all the athletic high schools in the U.S. will be utilizing digital ticketing. Eventually the industry will hit a plateau when it comes to enrollment, and we expect the industry will continue to grow and evolve with upgraded technology and features that make the platform more convenient, streamlined and provide additional benefits for the schools, fans and the community.
Q: Why the focus on high schools? Do you plan to expand into other sectors?
A: High Schools were an unserved market just a few years ago and presented an opportunity. Since high schools are a cornerstone of most communities, it is a natural progression to grow into similar community-based organizations. As people realized the benefits of digital ticketing, other events that have historically relied on paper tickets (State and County Fairs, Local Festivals, Smaller Colleges, Community Events, etc.) are moving to the adoption of digital ticketing as well. We’ve already started to support a number of them on our platform and will continue to branch out as new areas develop.
Q: What can we expect from HomeTown Ticketing in the next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: HomeTown Ticketing is continuing to focus on adding value to our clients and supporting schools, communities, and organizations with the complete adoption of a digital ticketing program. We will continue to strive for increased market share and digital ticket sales with the mission to make event management easier and more straightforward for all of our customers and their patrons.