Getting a ticket for a Bundesliga match is nowadays easier than ever before: Clubs already offer fans the option of buying tickets via their website – and now Hertha Berlin has taken this process a step further.
For most people, Facebook Messenger may just be a convenient way to chat online with friends, but for supporters of the German club, it has also become the latest and easiest way to snap up tickets for forthcoming Bundesliga matches. The system utilises state-of-the-art AI (artificial intelligence) software that greets a user by name – using the Hertha tradition of ‘Ha ho he!’ – and then reacts to their prompts to take them through each stage of the ticket-buying process.
The personalised ticketbot kicks into action as soon as a user opens the Messenger app on their mobile phone and then guides them through the step-by-step process: choosing which match they need tickets for, how many they need, what types of tickets, and which section of the stadium they wish to sit in. It is all done via a few pushes of a button on a smartphone. After fans have paid for their tickets – still using Messenger – they are sent an e-ticket that they can scan at the turnstiles of the Olympiastadion. The entire transaction can be completed in under two minutes – perfect for time-conscious ‘Generation Z’ fans under the age of 25.
‘Their user behaviour is already completely designed for digital applications,’ says Maurice Sonneveld, Hertha’s head of digital media. ‘When they’re in primary school it’s no longer a question of whether they will get a mobile phone, but only whether it’s model A or B. So they are completely socialised with digital applications.’
Hertha Berlin will continue to fine-tune the service but already believe they have created ‘a really cool application’. Ticketing, though, is just the start for Hertha and Messenger. They see the opportunities for engaging with supporters through this mode of communication as limitless. This year’s new strip launch, for example, was done via Messenger. Sonneveld envisions many other opportunities, even for fans to ask open questions eventually: ‘When is the next training session and the next game?’ But it’s also about trivial questions: ‘How do I get autograph cards? How big is Salomon Kalou and how many goals did he score last season?’ Everything that interests the fans should be answered by the bot in the future.
Of course, there will be some supporters who still want to do things the old-fashioned way and they won’t be forgotten either in the race to embrace the latest technology. ‘The bot should not replace a human being,’ adds Sonneveld. ‘That would be absurd. If you feel the need to buy your ticket at the ticket counter, you’re welcome to do so. But we have new target groups, new stakeholders. Accordingly, we also need new ideas to be able to offer them a great service.’