Last month, global ticketing company Eventbrite announced a launch in Hong Kong on the back of its entry into Singapore in February. Phil Silverstone, general manager, Asia Pacific, Eventbrite, told CEI that while the company has been processing tickets in Singapore and Hong Kong for a number of years now, the organic growth in both markets encouraged stronger investment there.
“This first stage that we’re moving forward with in Hong Kong and Singapore is really to go the next level of localising the product for the needs of the creators and event consumers in those markets,” he said.
The entry into both markets is indicative of a larger trend of live events and experiences. “We see a real strong macro-economic theme globally, but it’s heightened in Southeast Asia. We’ve done a number of studies on the market and if we look at event-goers in Singapore, for example, 95% of Singaporeans said that they attended an event in the previous year compared to say, the US market, which is about 80%,” said Silverstone.
“In Singapore and Hong Kong, we see a number of data points that indicate that those markets are showing greater demand. We also looked at ‘what you’d rather spend your money on’ and four in five people in Singapore and Hong Kong prefer to spend on experiences versus things or possessions. And it’s that trend that fuels more and more live experiences to be created.”
Four in five people in Singapore and Hong Kong prefer to spend on experiences versus things or possessions. And it’s that trend that fuels more and more live experiences to be created.
On top of that, Eventbrite has identified other secular themes that have fueled a desire for live experiences, the biggest of them being social media which “creates a concept of social currency”. “Facebook is where people are not only sharing the things that they do with their network but also seeing what others do. And that fuels a desire to attend,” said Silverstone.
But were people coming into the platform with an event in mind or hoping to discover things to do by browsing available content? It’s a mix of both, according to Silverstone. “When we are more of a new entry to a market, we have fewer events on the platform because we’re working on the B2B side to get more event creators to create their inventory. So that makes it less appealing as a ‘discover things to do’ option in a destination. But as we build that scale, it becomes more and more relevant,” he said.
“In Asia Pacific as a whole, over the term we’ve been on business here, we’ve processed over 64mil tickets that power over 1.1mil events. So when you have that sort of a scale, it gives you an inventory which then allows you to be more relevant to more people. Because the chances are that in that in between 1.1mil events, there’s something that you’re interested in.
“We work hard on the way our discovery engines work on the site to present things that are relevant to each individual either based on how they’ve come to the site, what they’ve searched for, or if they’ve purchased tickets on Eventbrite before.”
To be a successful ticketing platform is to also offer consumers the opportunity to look for things to do and events to attend. “We do that in a number of ways. Number one, we have a lot of links on our site and therefore, we’re really strong from an SEO perspective, and we have a good discovery engine for things to do,” said Silverstone. “But we also have a really distributed philosophy to that. We invest in the power of our platform to discover as well as purchase in a place like Facebook.”
The fact that that people are driven to look for things to do on social media has led to Eventbrite partnering up with Facebook and Instagram in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively. “That’s one of the things we’re able to do by localising the platform. The partnerships we have allow us to distribute the purchase process into Facebook and Instagram,” said Silverstone.
“[Otherwise] you get a clunky process that’s disconnected where you might discover the event on Facebook and Instagram, but you have to go through multiple steps to actually purchasing the ticket. [Through the partnership], consumers can find the event [on Facebook or Instagram] and purchase then and there. What we see through that is not only a better user experience but also an increase in conversion for the creator of the event.”
With partnerships across giant tech brands, Eventbrite is not very keen on leveraging the scale of data available to them. Instead, they’re more interested in connecting the event creator with the consumer. “Our philosophy is really that we’re a platform to help the event creator to engage with their customers. A lot of other ticketing companies will force consumers into their site and force them to create an account so that they can capture that data,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the consumer wants the relationship with the event or artist that they’re going to see, not with the ticketing company. So our job is to stay out of the way as much as possible.
“What we don’t see in any market around the globe is a successful story of any one company being the one place to go to find those things to do. And that’s what really informs our strategy and distribution – we don’t think there’s a world in the future where Eventbrite is the only website that people are going to go to And rather, our strategy it to make it easier for people to find things to do no matter where they are.”