Is there such a thing as a fair queue when buying sports tickets online?

When’s the last time you bought a ticket for a sporting event online?

You might remember the problems many people had securing tickets for the London Olympics back in 2012, where website glitches and various delays left many people frustrated (we covered it in this post about web performance nightmares).

Or perhaps you have recently been part of an online queue to buy tickets to the England Rugby World Cup, or to one of many Premiership Football games.

The popularity of these events and the relative scarcity of actual tickets to be sold puts the businesses selling them and maintaining these websites in a unique position. Even when you pretty much know you’re going to sell out, why should you care about the customer experience?

For one thing, fans are quick to voice their disapproval of a bad experience online and lose faith in the process altogether. Let’s take a look at some of the things being said on social media about the online ticket buying experience.

Inconsistent or unfair queue

Sometimes you get placed into a queue, but it never seems to move. Or your position seems to jump around at random, giving you little confidence that the information being shown to you is at all meaningful.

Here are some examples of this from people trying to buy tickets for the Rugby World Cup:

Get to the back of the line – Kicked out of the queue

There’s nothing worse than investing your time into waiting in line for something, only to get to the front and suddenly find yourself at the back of the queue. Are you going to go through the wait all over again or just abandon the queue and your purchase?

It seems like the fans of quite a few football clubs have suffered this fate:

Website crash – No chance to buy

Queues can be frustrating, but even worse is when a site simply breaks and won’t let you make your purchase. This is often down to the popularity of the tickets in question overloading the website with traffic.

Here are a few examples from top football clubs:

So why should ticketing site owners care?

Clearly fans become very frustrated by unfair, inconsistent or broken ticket sales. It makes sense for ticket vendors to use a queue to try to create a fair environment for fans whilst allowing the website to cope gracefully with the high levels of traffic, but often it seems the technology behind these queues are not up to scratch (as evidenced in the above tweets).

What can they do about it?

Intechnica have developed TrafficDefender, a solution specifically designed to provide the best possible customer experience during high demand web events such as ticket sales.

TrafficDefender is built to cope with extreme peaks in traffic to ensure the website defended won’t go down. What’s more, its advanced queueing functionality allows visitors to access the website or specified area of the website in a controlled “first in, first out” manner, always shows accurate information to those waiting, and has advanced features such as live reporting and VIP visitors.

Find out more about TrafficDefender


Performance Nightmare: Rhythm and Vines Music Festival

Rhythm and Vines Music Festival

Performance is especially critical in transactional websites targeted at social media savvy customers

Setting the scene: The Rhythm and Vines Music Festival (established 2003) is an annual music festival in Gisbourne, New Zealand traditionally taking place during New Year. It started as a small New Year’s Eve celebration featuring Kiwi musical acts and was attended by 1,800 people in its first year. This expanded to a three day international festival, with 25,000 people attending in 2010. In the 2011 pre-sales period, 4,000 tickets were sold.

Performance Nightmare:When pre-sales opened for the 2012 festival, demand doubled from the previous year, bringing down the ticketing website. The website had troubles soon after launching, but was struck down again by overwhelming demand soon after relaunching. This was made worse for users by the fact that the website seemed to process their order and took their money, but would not confirm their purchase, instead displaying an error message. The festival organisers tried to keep customers up to date on the status of the site via Facebook and Twitter but both sites were hit by hundreds of negative comments from frustrated users, many of whom confused about the status of their payments. The festival’s sales manager announced that these orders were now being processed manually, which has to be a big strain on time and resources.

Systems need to scale with increasing demand. Photo: http://www.facebook.com/rhythm.vines


Be sure to check back (or subscribe) to the blog to see more Performance Nightmares as they are reported!

Intechnica are a full service digital agency offering performance assurance and complex application development. We solve performance problems!