In the past, printing out paper tickets was the only way to gain entry to concerts and other events. However, technology has evolved and now mobile tickets displayed on your smartphone are common and widely accepted. So do you still need to print out tickets for concerts and live events? There are pros and cons to consider when deciding between paper and electronic tickets.
The rise of mobile ticketing
Mobile ticketing has become popular in recent years. Instead of receiving paper tickets in the mail or picking them up at will call, many event organizers now use mobile ticketing services. With these services, once you purchase event tickets online, the tickets are delivered directly to your smartphone via text or email. You can store the tickets in a digital wallet app and simply show your phone screen to be scanned for entry. Some of the benefits of mobile ticketing include:
- Convenience – No need to remember to bring paper tickets or worry about losing them. Tickets are easily accessible on your phone.
- Security – Mobile tickets help reduce ticket fraud since each barcode is unique and scannable only once. Paper tickets can more easily be duplicated or counterfeited.
- Flexibility – If plans change, mobile tickets can often be easily transferred or sold through the app. No need to ship paper tickets.
- Environmental – Mobile ticketing reduces paper waste and carbon emissions from shipping.
Major ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite now offer mobile ticketing as the default. Most major concerts, sports events, and festivals now exclusively use mobile tickets.
Venue acceptance of mobile tickets
If you’re wondering whether you still need to print tickets, one key factor is whether the specific venue accepts mobile ticketing. The good news is that most major venues have embraced mobile tickets and smartphone displays are widely accepted for entry. This includes large concert stadiums, arenas, music festivals, convention centers, theaters, and cinemas. Some smaller independent venues may still require paper tickets, but this is increasingly uncommon.
You should always check on the event website or ticketing platform whether mobile entry is allowed before deciding to go paperless. But overall, mobile ticketing adoption has reached the point where printouts are no longer mandatory in most cases.
Pros of digital tickets
Going fully digital with concert and event tickets offers a few key advantages:
Having tickets readily available on your smartphone allows for easy access when you arrive. There’s no need to remember to bring paper tickets or keep track of a printed packet. You don’t have to dig through your bag or pockets to find tickets. And there’s no need to visit will call or a ticket counter to pick up hard tickets beforehand. The tickets are right there in your hand.
Reduced risk of loss/theft
It’s very easy to misplace paper tickets, leave them at home, or accidentally throw them away. And printed tickets can be lost or stolen. With digital tickets, there’s no physical item to keep track of. The tickets are securely stored in your phone or online account. Replacing lost or stolen mobile tickets is also generally easier than replacing paper tickets.
Transferring or reselling mobile tickets is simple since they exist digitally. Tickets can be easily sent to a new recipient’s mobile device. Compare this to the hassle of shipping paper tickets through the mail. Mobile ticketing platforms also facilitate sales and transfers through official resale marketplaces. This makes it easier to securely sell or give away tickets you can no longer use.
Widespread use of paperless mobile ticketing helps reduce paper waste and carbon emissions from shipping and printing hard tickets. Concerts and live events can have an enormous environmental impact, so mobile ticketing is a small way to reduce the footprint. According to Ticketmaster, mobile tickets have eliminated over 500 million pounds of paper waste since 2008.
Pros of printed tickets
While mobile ticketing offers many perks, there are some potential benefits to having a paper ticket in hand:
For big concerts, cherished shows, or milestone events, a printed ticket can serve as a nice keepsake or souvenir. Collecting ticket stubs in a scrapbook or frame is a fun way to commemorate experiences. Mobile tickets don’t quite offer the same tangible memorabilia.
Avoid phone issues
Printed tickets protect against any mobile device problems at the venue entrance. Issues like a dead phone battery, damaged screen, or connectivity problems could prevent you from accessing your mobile tickets. With paper tickets, you’re guaranteed entry regardless of tech failures.
Transferring single mobile tickets to multiple people can be tricky. Printed tickets can more easily be split up and shared if you want to give tickets to friends or relatives meeting you at the event. Although some mobile ticketing apps allow ticket splitting, it often requires everyone to download the app and sync up accounts.
Resell at venue
For high-demand shows where tickets may sell out, printed tickets offer the option to easily resell or “miracle” tickets outside the venue. Mobile reselling is more restricted to official resale platforms, while paper allows for in-person exchanges. However, this also increases fraud risk.
Avoid digital clutter
Some find mobile tickets lead to digital clutter and notification overload. Emails and texts about expiring tickets or transfers can pile up. Printed tickets allow you to clear out the digital clutter and focus just on the event experience.
When printed tickets are required
While most major concerts, festivals, sports, and events now accept mobile entry, there are some exceptions where printed tickets are still required:
Some small music clubs, theaters, and venues with old equipment may not have mobile scanners. They will require paper tickets for entry. This is more common at older, independent venues. Checking ahead is advised.
Mobile ticketing adoption varies globally. In some regions like Asia and South America, paperless ticketing is less common. There, printed tickets may still be the norm and required.
Ticketing app issues
In rare cases, technical issues with the ticketing app or account could prevent digital ticket delivery and require printouts as a backup. For high-demand shows, printed tickets provide assurance.
Some ticketing platforms like Ticketmaster still charge mobile convenience fees for electronic delivery. Opting for paper ticket mail delivery avoids the ~$5-$10 service fees.
Collector’s edition tickets
For special occasions like championship games or concerts, printed collector’s edition tickets may be the only option made available. Mobile entry may be disabled to promote sales of commemorative ticket packs.
Tips for printing tickets
If you do need printed tickets, here are some tips for the printouts:
- Use high quality, thicker paper – This makes it easier for ticket takers to scan and handle.
- Print in color – Most barcodes only scan properly in color ink.
- Avoid folds and creases – Heavy folds can interfere with barcode scans, so print flat.
- Laminate for protection – Lamination guards against smudges, tears, and moisture.
- Bring backups – Consider printing 2+ copies in case one is damaged or lost.
- Print shortly before event – Waiting until close to the event date ensures latest ticket version.
Save tickets to your phone
If you do have mobile tickets but want to be safe, you can print them out while also keeping the digital version handy as a backup. Most ticket platforms allow you to save the tickets to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay for instant smartphone access.
Mobile ticketing has made paper printouts unnecessary in most cases thanks to wide venue acceptance. Digital tickets offer convenience, security, flexibility, and environmental benefits over paper. However, printed tickets can still serve as nice souvenirs and provide assurance against tech issues.
Smaller independent venues may require paper tickets, as do some international events. Technical delivery problems or convenience fees can also mandate printouts. For high-demand shows, printed tickets guarantee entry and allow for in-person resales.
If you do opt for paper tickets, use high quality prints with color ink and minimize folds and creases. Lamination and bringing backups helps too. With mobile ticket adoption reaching critical mass, concerts and live events are largely going paperless. But printed mementos retain sentimental value for memorable shows.