Ticket Sales Driver of Nonprofit Revenue

The AT&T Performing Arts Center draws almost 408,000 visitors to nearly 1,200 ticketed events annually, including Broadway musicals, opera, ballet, and a wide array of concerts.

As a nonprofit organization, the Center relies heavily on ticket sales, which comprise approximately 40 percent of their revenue. The Center’s very robust website includes technology that supports mobile and online ticket sales 24/7.

Losing the Battle with Fraudulent Chargebacks

“In the nine months prior to iovation, we had over $55,000 in chargebacks and we weren’t winning any of them. It was really frustrating,” said the Director of Ticket Services Jennifer Aprea. “Of course we want the best experience for our patrons, and depending on the performance, we might be able to move them to a better seat without charge, but sometimes we can’t. So, there’s a huge customer service component in addition to the financial component.”

In Texas, there are no laws against brokering and reselling tickets, so fraudsters were able to purchase several tickets online, usually the cheapest inventory, and then resell them for up to ten times their face value. Patrons who purchased these tickets would arrive at the theater expecting premium seats, but would actually be seated in a less desirable area.

Not realizing that they didn’t buy their tickets directly from the official box office, they would blame the Center, which had nothing to do with the transaction. The broker would then deny the charges on their credit card, saying the card was not present, or that they never purchased the tickets. The tipping point came during the “Jersey Boys” show, which ran for six weeks. The losses from that show alone made up a large portion of the $55,000 loss.

“We were battling with brokers, who had come out in full force,” said Aprea. “Our finance department would get the chargebacks, and we would put all the paperwork together and try to fight them, but we were losing more than we were winning. We knew something had to change, because what we were doing wasn’t working.”

Seeking a Partner in Fraud Prevention

After exhausting all of their internal options and efforts to block fraud, the Center looked for an expert in fraud prevention.

“We had some initial reservations with regard to the effectiveness of device reputation. Our worry was that it might slow down the purchase process on the web. Would a patron have to sit there for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or a minute, while the software comes back with an answer,” said Aprea “But it didn’t happen that way— it’s instantaneous.”

After proving to efficiently and effectively meet all of their fraud prevention needs, the Center made the decision to implement iovation Fraud Prevention.

Seamless Implementation to Identify and Block Fraud

iovation FraudForce focuses on the computers and mobile devices being used to submit transactions. The service gives the Center quick visibility into the activity on its ticketing platform. With this device-based intelligence, fraudsters and repeat offenders can be easily identified and stopped.

iovation worked closely with the Center and their ticketing system partner, Tessitura Network, to determine optimal business rules for the Center’s environment, and to complete testing to ensure seamless functionality. iovation also helped solve the Center’s telephone fraud issues by sharing information across different stages of the ticketing pipeline.

“When a fraudster tries to buy tickets on our website, they will either break the business rules that we’ve put in place or they may already be blocked out. They will get an error message that directs them to phone the box office,” explained Aprea. “But since iovation also talks to our ticketing system, our phone reps know when a fraudster is calling and has already been blocked by our fraud detection system, and will not sell them the tickets.”

iovation FraudForce was also launched at the same time as the Center’s new website. “We thought, ‘Oh dear, that’s a lot to come together at one time,’” said Aprea. “But it worked fabulously. iovation was the easiest part of the entire website redesign. There was no lag time, nothing.”

318% ROI from iovation Fraud Prevention

The Center was up and running quickly with FraudForce and achieved immediate results in fraud prevention. “We achieved about 318 percent ROI from iovation's fraud prevention,” noted Aprea. “We went from $55,000+ in chargebacks in one year, down to less than $4,000 in chargebacks. That is huge.”

iovation made sure the Center’s fraud management team was fully trained on how to use the platform most effectively. “iovation’s customer service and expertise really stood out for me. They are very responsive,” noted Aprea. “Our point of contact, Karime Zarate, is smart. She gets it on every possible level, and as a team, they are very technically savvy and seem to be right there on the cutting edge of what’s possible. Talking to the Tessitura team on how to make the software coding work with our system was like a walk in the park for them. They didn’t even bat an eye at it. No big deal.”

Other benefits of using FraudForce include an improved, positive experience for valued ticket-buying patrons and an increased security reputation for the Center.

“Some of our ticket service clients have large-name acts coming in to Dallas and they want to know what kind of fraud prevention procedures we have in place,” explained Aprea. “Having iovation has proven to be a great selling point for us in that regard.”

This has helped the Center lock in more high-profile artists which creates additional revenue opportunities for the organization.