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After dominating the online ticket industry, what's next for Eventbrite?

After becoming one of the largest self-service ticketing services in the world, the next aim for Eventbrite is to properly tap into the potential that mobile holds.

The founders of Eventbrite (from left to right): Renaud Visage, Julia Hartz and Kevin Hartz.
The founders of Eventbrite (from left to right): Renaud Visage, Julia Hartz and Kevin Hartz.
Image: Eventbrite

IT’S VERY LIKELY you would have come across Eventbrite at one point or another.

The online ticketing company is practically ubiquitous for those organising events, be it professional or amateur, and after opening up new offices in Dublin and processing a billion dollars this year from ticket sales, it continues to grow.

Yet its co-founders, Kevin and Julia Hartz and Renaud Visage, show no signs of stopping anytime soon.

For Kevin Hartz, the company’s CEO, the aim is for Eventbrite to be to ticketing what Google is to search and Facebook is to connecting people online, and properly tapping into mobile plays a key role.

“There’s a lot of development to be done on the mobile side for both the organiser and the customer,” says Hartz. “A significant part of the business now is transactions and discovery on mobile [which are] two very exciting areas.”

And this push on mobile is a major area for it to tap into. Its latest app update, which practically allows organisers to create and run events purely through their smartphone or tablet, reflects this approach.

It’s an obvious move, and one that all tech companies have been focusing on for the past few years, but Eventbrite has been gradually edging towards a mobile-first experience.

While ticketing revenue is the main reason for this, the other area that could pay dividends for it is discovery.

Eventbrite new app Eventbrite's latest update places a greater focus on organisation and discovery. Source: Eventbrite

While most users would go into the app to load up a ticket or check what events they’re attending, the range of events featured on it means there’s real potential for it to succeed here.

It’s something that Eventbrite is keeping a close eye on as more people use the app to find similar events, but Hartz admits that it’s “very, very difficult to succeed” in this field.

“We’ve seen the early prospects of it and that’s just by amassing customers, we have 1.1 million active events, not just published events, and with that critical mass, discovery begins. But we have to nurture and build a product that consumers have that habit to come back to the discovery.”

At the same time, ensuring that it’s a place that people can trust and that means ensuring that spam is kept to a minimum. While the problem of spam might seem a bit strange, considering the nature of the service, the potential for it to be abused is higher than you would expect. It’s a growing problem with Hartz describing it as “a cat and mouse game.”

“Even early on, because we have such a high page rank, [Google content] and we have the ability to send out thousands of invitations or reach different people, it’s used for nefarious purposes such as spamming folks to committing fraud and [credit cards on the system] so these are the challenges at scale, even as a startup, one has to wrestle with.”

While the core of the service is structurally sound, one area that has separated Eventbrite from similar companies is the amount of resources it’s dedicated towards customer services.

For Julia Hartz, the company’s president, it all comes down to understanding customers and discovering what they want. As the company grew, the importance on keeping this level of care was changed regularly, and even now, the company continues to experiment with different approaches.

“We’ve had our own challenges in scaling [customer service]… but each time we hit an inflection point, we reassess and scope out the best way to achieve the level of delightedness our customers have come to enjoy from Eventbrite.  We test, analyze, optimize and iterate – it’s an ongoing process.”

One experiment that is ongoing is offering four-hour shifts to its customer service staff, allowing them to choose how their day shapes up.

So far, the results are positive, but the ultimate aim is providing the best customer service possible. If the staff are happy, then they will do more to help customers and for Julia, that’s what makes Eventbrite the company it is today.

“Above and beyond customer service is the heart of Eventbrite,” she says. “If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have made it this far.”

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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