Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Two years have made a huge difference in the online-ticket business plans of Michael Campbell, who operates YardTicket.com. The domain name was purchased in 2009, he said, "but the market was not ready".
Then, he said, a mere 15 per cent of the potential Jamaican market had credit cards. Now, not only has credit-card use gone up, but two major commercial banks have introduced, or are in the process of introducing, the Visa debit card, enabling their customers to shop online without entering into a credit card arrangement.
Increased Internet penetration, especially smartphone use, has also boosted the business' potential.
He described YardTicket.com, which encourages users to 'Search.Click.Buy', as "an online ticket gallery, where you can purchase tickets online".
"We are an innovative company," Campbell said, noting that when he attended one staging of the 'Best of the Best' concert in the USA, he did the transaction online.
YardTicket.com is one of a number of online stores under Virtual Mall.
There is a mark-up on the purchase price at accustomed physical outlets, which Campbell described as "a small margin to pay for the convenience".
The first event for which tickets were provided through YardTicket.com was Pepsi Rebel Salute 2012, held at the Port Kaiser Sports Club, St Elizabeth, on January 14, and Campbell is encouraged by the sales that were facilitated in a short time.
Campbell said YardTicket.com started offering tickets on January 7, seven days before the festival, and managed to sell over 80 per cent of the tickets they were provided with. About 60 per cent of those sales came from persons outside Jamaica, namely Spain, Canada and Turkey. More VIP tickets were sold than regular admission.
Although YardTicket.com has just started operations, Campbell said groundwork with promoters of popular year-end parties such as Absinthe and Twisted Spiritz gave positive feedback.
"They were receptive," Campbell said, but he opted to collect email particulars from partygoers in order to establish a database. "We got some promo girls and did that," he said.
"We learned the market, then we linked with Rebel."
After making the purchase online, customers are asked to carry a transaction receipt and identification to the venue, where the physical ticket is provided. Campbell said all went smoothly at Rebel Salute, the marketing process linked with promotion for the festival.
Having made a start, Campbell said he is in negotiations with a major summer event to handle online ticketing. In the short-term, he said, "we are targeting parties. In the long-term we plan to have theatre, sports, movies".
There is a definite Jamaican thrust, beginning with the website's name, as Campbell said, "we want to emphasise that you purchase your ticket from a 'yard' entity".
"You purchase from somebody from 'yard' who is into the culture and you bought in 'yard', not Miami or somewhere else," he said. "When it becomes a household name, we hope somebody can say 'yeah man, I got my ticket from yard'."
YardTicket.com begins online sales