Ticketing companies need to improve the customer experience, said ticketing experts at the 7th Annual Billboard Touring Conference and Awards. The panelists on the “Ticketing: Managing the Keys to Kingdom” also acknowledged that live music has heavy competition with other entertainment options and that social media will play a big part of their future.

When ticketing executives talk about the customer experience, they’re usually talking about prices, fees and transparency. Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard recalled how Ticketmaster recently moved ticket fees to earlier in the buying process so potential buyers have better information earlier in the buying process. Conversion has stayed flat or gone up, Hubbard said, and Ticketmaster has achieved the highest satisfaction rating in the company’s history.

Independent ticketing consultant David Goldberg agreed that more information is better than less information but wondered how a ticketing company could possibly explain the economics of ticket prices to fans. He argued that ticketing industry tend to defer to the clients but now should listen to the customers as well as clients. “At a certain point, you get extreme blowback.”

But should there be fees in the first place? It’s a complex question with no easy answers. StubHub’s Tsakalakis pointed out that ticketing is a peculiar branch of e-commerce. His experience in e-commerce has taught him people expect ticketing e-commerce to be just like every other ecommerce experience. “No other ecommerce business I know of charges a fee on top of the price,” Tsakalakis said.

Panelists agreed on the need to improve how ticketing companies use social media to reach consumers – especially younger music fans. “We’ve got to find ways to use new social media tools because our audience lives there,” said David Butler, president of Paciolan.

The future is less about advertising and more about figuring out viral marketing, said Jeff Kreinik, VP of marketing, Front Gate Tickets. “I think Zac Brown (Band) does this fantastically,” he said, mentioning the meet-and-greets and BBQs the band does with its fans. “I went to a show recently, and I thought he really engaged the crowd. The front eight rows were all fan club members.”

Hubbard offered some insight into Ticketmaster’s innovation timeline. In two weeks, he told the audience, Ticketmaster will introduce a new social layer to its site and in three months the company will roll out set of tools for promoters to better price tickets “on the fly” and better connect supply and demand.

FOR FULL COVERAGE FROM THE TOURING CONFERENCE AND AWARDS CLICK HERE.