For the first time ever, Planet Bluegrass is joining forces with a ticketing partner to bring our Festivarians the best ticketing experience available on the market.
For the last 30 years, we’ve prided ourselves on having all of our ticketing operations in-house. Planet Bluegrass came of age in an industry monopolized by TicketMaster. In a world where businesses shamelessly tacked 20% onto the price of a ticket, we strove to be the antithesis. In fact, number one on the Festivarian Bill of Rights promises that our Festivarians will never be subjected to fees when they purchase tickets with us.
Time went on, the internet evolved, and we developed a secondary concern with the ticketing industry: customer data privacy. As email spam skyrocketed and unwanted communications flooded our inboxes, we vowed to safe-keep our customers’ information and use it only for communication with Planet Bluegrass, and only when they opted in for such communications.
Eventually the reign of TicketMaster began to ebb as newer, more customer-focused companies entered the arena. Promoters and venue owners started working with a multitude of ticketing companies, each offering a unique set of practices and capabilities. Like any competitive field, as the number of players increased, so did the need for innovation and advancement. The plurality of options forced businesses to differentiate and develop their own niche in the market. Competition begot improvement.
Planet Bluegrass looked on to this progression with disengaged amusement. Over the years, we had developed a very customized platform for ticketing that was tailored to our every need. Our festivals had quirks, and we were able to accommodate every single one. We occasionally chatted with startup ticketing companies, curious from time-to-time whether anyone could offer a service to our Festivarians that compared to our own. The answer had always been no.
In the last year or two, something changed. Ticketing evolved into a market centered around technology. Information security became a more urgent topic than ever. Ticketing companies got slick, building privacy into their core offerings while simultaneously expanding into new territory. We focused, as always, on curating our lineups and providing the best customer experience. As ticketing agencies doubled-down on tech, we doubled-down on handpainted signs. We should all stick to what we’re good at, right?
Our festival survey data gradually reflected our deficiencies. For a sustainable festival organization, why did we require everyone to print out paper tickets? (Our scanners were not sophisticated enough to read phone screens.) Why wouldn’t we switch to cloth wristbands? (They took much more time to count, and slowed down box office operations, which led to long lines to enter the festivals.) We became aware of even more shortcomings than our Festivarians: we stressed over server capacity on our high-traffic on-sale dates; we got complaints that customers could not see all of their purchase history under one account; the software we were using required significant updates to be compliant with industry norms. As the ticketing world moved forward, we remained still, treading water without making progress.
See Tickets is an international ticketing company with headquarters in the UK. They’re also part of a larger family called Vivendi SA, a media enterprise based in Paris.
See Tickets has decades of experience in the ticketing space, with a noteworthy presence in sporting events and music festivals. They support some of the largest music festivals in the world, including Glastonbury in the UK.
In 2014, See Tickets opened their first U.S. office in Los Angeles. Since then they’ve acquired an impressive list of clientele, now representing hundreds of festivals and venues across the country. They are especially prominent in the EDM scene, ticketing events with tens of thousands of concertgoers - much bigger than Telluride Bluegrass Festival!
While we felt comfortable knowing that See Tickets has ticketed some of the biggest and most popular music festivals in the world, the real reason we wanted to partner together was their commitment to customized service. Remember our ticketing quirks that we mentioned earlier? See Tickets is prepared to work with us to honor our existing practices so that we don’t sacrifice our offering to you.
The biggest change will be the introduction of RFID technology at Telluride Bluegrass Festival (we are considering implementing RFID at RockyGrass and Folks Festival as well, but are still working out some kinks). RFID wristbands will increase our festival security, as they are harder to copy and can be remotely deactivated in the event of loss. More importantly, RFID’s will benefit YOU: they will be mailed directly to your home in advance of the festival, and you can put your wristband on yourself. When you arrive at the festival, there is no need to stop by the box office to exchange a paper ticket for a wristband (although we hope you still swing by to say hello to our staff!). We’re trying to cut down on the number of lines you have to wait in, so you can save all of your patience for the tarp run line and the beer booth line.
In Telluride, we will eliminate our reliance on paper tickets entirely. Festivarians will either have their wristband shipped directly to their homes, or can exchange a digital will call ticket at the festival box office for a wristband.
In Lyons, more advanced hardware will allow us to scan mobile phone screens to exchange barcode tickets for wristbands. The days of remembering to print your pass before reaching the box office are over!
Due to the demand for popular tickets like Town Park and Warner Field camping, we’ve relied on a lottery system over the years to try to fairly distribute tickets among interested Festivarians and distribute the high volume of server traffic out over several days. With See Tickets, we can sunset all ticket lotteries and let their queuing technology take over. The queue functions like a digital waiting room, letting waves of users enter our website one group at a time to allow our servers to support the increased level of traffic that comes with onsales. The See Tickets queue screens for bots to make sure our tickets end up in the hands of real live Festivarians.
Y’all have been asking about these in our festival surveys for years, and we are excited to finally be able to deliver. Our resistance to date has centered around logistics - they take more time to count and to put on. When we process thousands of people per day at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, speed is important in getting folks through the gate and spending as little time in line at the box office as possible. Now that we have RFID technology and can ship your wristband directly to your house, we reduce the time spent fumbling with wristbands at the box office.
Most of our festivals have limited space available for RVs. Because we have such a small number of RV passes to sell, we have traditionally accepted RV orders over the phone only. With the help of See Tickets’ technology, our online shopping cart is more precise and we are now able to offer RV sales online.
We know it can be tough to shell out a bunch of cash on festival tickets right before the holiday season. With help from See Tickets, we are now able to offer a payment plan service on our most expensive tickets (think weekend passes and on-site camping). For no interest and no extra fees, you can split the bill for your 2020 festival tickets into multiple payments. Yee-haw!
DOUBLE THE CUSTOMER SERVICE
Now that we have the help of our friends at See Tickets, we have multiplied our customer service troops. We have their help with phone support for ticket-specific questions (like, “I don’t see my tickets in my account,” “I can’t find my confirmation email,” or “I need to refund my order.”) For questions about our events, weddings, sustainability, or even just to have a friendly chat, we are still available at the Planet Bluegrass Office. See Tickets has extended operating hours, from 8am to 7pm PST Monday - Saturday. Planet Bluegrass is open from 9am - 4pm MST Tuesday - Friday, although from April to September we are open on Mondays as well.
HARD TICKETS FOR NIGHTGRASS AND LOCALS
We’ll still offer keepsake hard tickets for NightGrass shows and at our locals outlets in Telluride and Lyons.
Bought tickets back in December, and then get invited to your cousin’s wedding? We got you covered. We will still be offering full refunds for each festival through a specified date sometime in spring.
NO FEES ADDED
The price we quote you is the same price you’re going to see on the checkout page. The cost of shipping wristbands? On us. Any credit card processing fees? We’re taking those on. We want to make sure there are no surprises during your shopping experience.
Have feedback or ideas to share? Have questions about any of our events or business operations? Just want to have a chat with a friendly human being? We’re still here. You can reach us by phone (800-624-2422), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on any of our social media outlets. We love hearing from you!
Once you purchase a ticket with us, Planet Bluegrass is the owner of your data - not See Tickets. True to our history, we will never sell that data or use it for any communications you have not opted in to.
Our 2022 on-sale dates are still TBD. Check back in November for updates!