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The Move Towards A Seamless Booking Experience: An Interview with Kenneth Tan, CEO & Head of Product, South East Asia, BookMyShow

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To reach the head of the country’s top ticketing agent is no easy feat, and then to step down from that position as CEO and start something new, possibly unthinkable. But that’s precisely what Kenneth Tan has done, making the bold move to step away from ticketing giants SISTIC to become CEO & Head of Product, South East Asia, BookMyShow, the latest player in Singapore’s ever-growing pool of ticketing agents.

“It’s not as scary as you might think, since BookMyShow isn’t exactly me changing industries, so I don’t have to start learning from scratch,” says Kenneth. “The reason for doing is that I’ve talked to a lot of companies and asked if there is a need for another player to come into the industry. and the response was that if all the companies aren’t focused on helping promoters actually get ticket sales, then there’s still space for a platform to fill that gap.”

Strictly speaking, BookMyShow is not a new company, having already started in India. What Kenneth is doing then, is to take this pre-existing platform, and introduce it to Southeast Asia. Kenneth explains: “We’re aware that there are already so many players already in the Southeast Asian market, so there was certain to be competition. But the difference is that BookMyShow really aims to optimise the booking experience, with as few steps as possible to go from selecting your show to booking your seat.”

Add Kenneth: “When setting up BookMyShow in Southeast Asia, we were very aware that we were not simply carting the India system over, but specifically attempting to address the region’s needs, and tweak our product to become suitable for the clients here instead. For example, in India, they don’t restrict people from leaving single seats. That’s interesting, because while I was at SISTIC, i started to notice that more and more people were beginning to buy single tickets and watching shows on their own. Sometimes, we need to let go of age old traditions like these, and let customers sit wherever they want!”

While still serving similar functions to existing ticketing platforms, what BookMyShow intends to change up from the usual formula is to integrate ticketing completely into consumers’ daily lives, which, coupled with the ease of booking, may just be the answer to promoting sales. Says Kenneth: “Both promoters and venues want to sell more tickets – our model helps to streamline that process by also engaging partnerships with companies, such as a telco, a bank or a transport company. I believe that wherever ticket buyers may be, they should be able to see and buy tickets, whether at a grocery store or even while you’re booking your Grab, and basically, bring ticketing closer to the consumer.”

Kenneth believes that in time to come, BookMyShow does not simply host prestige, big name shows or companies, but also smaller shows and events, with tickets from Carnival Cinemas already available on their site. Says Kenneth: “Beyond live shows, we want to also host movies and even attractions. Our cost of operation is actually very low, and even if we take on smaller shows or events, it’s still commercially viable for us.”

The first ever event available on BookMyShow was Dream Academy’s upcoming show – Broadway Beng: Last Beng Standing, featuring beloved local actor Sebastian Tan reprising his role as the titular Broadway/West End musical loving Ah Beng, whose Hokkien inserts into familiar songs have charmed audiences each time he’s stepped onstage in the role. Says Kenneth: “We’ve known the team at Dream Academy for over 10 years already, and we’re very appreciative of Dream for believing in us.”

“There’s actually an interesting anecdote I have regarding someone trying to book a ticket,” he adds, “where a customer stood at a SISTIC counter and didn’t quite understand how the system worked. Even though it was on BookMyShow, the staff at the SISTIC counter still helped guide her through the steps to buy a Broadway Beng ticket from BookMyShow via her phone! BookMyShow isn’t going to have any physical counters to buy tickets from, but customers like the one I mentioned are just a small percentage of the whole, and I believe these initial apprehensions can be overcome with time and education.”

Ultimately, what BookMyShow does hope to do is to go beyond Singapore, and expand their reach to the entire region. Says Kenneth: “We’ve noticed that the market here is much bigger on live entertainment, and there is a very strong culture of attending shows within the market, mostly because there’s this perception of the high quality of shows that play in Singapore. I think that there might even be a case where people are willing to fly down to Singapore just to see a show, especially from nearby countries such as Malaysia or Indonesia, sort of like how Americans would be willing to travel across state lines. We hope to have a connected network where we can reflect prices in local currency, idea of a seamless experience where people can just go from region to region, and only the travel market has really done that, not so much the ticketing system, and we want to be the first to do that.”

Kenneth concludes: “Eventually, BookMyShow wants to be the one to create that network of Southeast Asian countries, where the market is opened up, and quite simply, give buyers from across the region a smooth, seamless user experience when they book their ticket for any event for anywhere, from anywhere.”

The very first show available from BookMyShow, Dream Academy’s Broadway Beng Concert: Last Beng Standing plays from 17th July to 4th August 2019 at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets available from BookMyShow

Keep up to date with BookMyShow’s other offerings on their website here

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