Danielle Duclos: Hello everyone and welcome to Bluefin’s Partner Podcast. Today we will be speaking with Courtney Files, Business Development Manager for VBO Tickets. VBO Tickets is a global provider of a total ticketing engagement solution with all-in-one ticketing and event management features. The company helps organizations boost ticket sales with integrated customer relationship management, ticketing, fundraising, merchandise sales, virtual engagement, and marketing solutions.
In 2021, Bluefin and VBO partnered for integrated payment processing backed by the security and scope reduction of PCI-validated point-to-point encryption. Courtney, it’s great to have you with us today.
Courtney Files: Thank you so much, Danielle. I am so excited to be here, thank you for having me.
Danielle Duclos: Can you tell us more about VBO Tickets – what does your company do and what industries do you serve?
Courtney Files: VBO is a white-label event management software, and it was built for performing arts, theaters, museums, tour attractions, and college and universities. And really, it seamlessly integrates with any client website, providing powerful tools so that they can create, manage, and sell their events. We’re here to make a difference, empower our clients, and make them more productive with their event management software.
Danielle Duclos: A little bit like an all-in-one software package for these folks, correct?
Courtney Files: Yes, absolutely. I think that’s the perfect way to say it. It’s simple, yet sophisticated, and most importantly, it’s secure.
Danielle Duclos: And that’s a big reason why we partnered – so that we could back up what your company is doing with the security that Bluefin offers. Before we get into that conversation, though, there’s been a shift that we’ve seen in industries because of the pandemic.
Your ticketing clients have probably been through a lot in the past year and a half, two years. First, how did you see the pandemic affect your client base and second, did the pandemic require VBO Tickets to make any change to your software or how you were serving your clients?
Courtney Files: Yes, absolutely. We all woke up one day and the world had basically shut down on us. That was something I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined. And the pandemic really required our company to act extremely quickly, and overnight, our development team had to create and release new features so that our clients could continue to strive in their everyday activities – even if their venues were closed.
We immediately provided them with virtual streaming that allowed those venues to offer programs – shows and concerts – via video streaming, giving them a monetary way to keep moving forward even in the unknown. We also created social distancing features for in-person events. You can limit your venue capacity by event based upon the social distancing rules in your state or your city, whatever the case may be. We also have merchandise that patrons and guests can pre-purchase ahead of time for once they are on-site.
We have so many features that were in play before the pandemic, but I think that the social distancing we created, as well as the virtual streaming options, were the two biggest ones because it was so important for people to still get to have that interaction – still watch a show without, unfortunately, being there in person, right?
Danielle Duclos: Yes, I think, it allowed people to at least experience the event. And not so bad sometimes from the comfort of your living room. Talking a bit more about what we have gone back to – let’s call it post-pandemic – we’re still in the middle of some uncertainty. Do you see your clients adopting a more hybrid approach in the future for ticketing?
Courtney Files: We absolutely do. I really believe that the virtual streaming and the hybrid is here to stay. Moving forward, I feel like we’re really going to give the patron, the guest, the flexibility, “Do you want to stay home, or do you want to come out and see it live in person?”
Danielle Duclos: I find it interesting that VBO was already doing a number of software upgrades and development to cater to this new norm, but you approached Bluefin in 2021 to talk about our PCI-validated point-to-point encryption solution, which may not have been top of mind for a lot of providers because they were just trying to get through the pandemic.
What made you, in the midst of this kind of shift, decide that P2PE payment security was also at the top of your list for integration into the software?
Courtney Files: As a software company, we take our security and the security of our clients extremely seriously – that’s really our number one priority. We have to make sure that the payment side for our clients and their patrons is a safe experience. That security is absolutely everything, and the pandemic really showed us that people were making more transactions online than ever before. We knew that our clients and our venues needed to be able to take those payments in a secure environment, so we did a lot of research looking for the best possible solution. And everywhere we turned it was Bluefin, and I think that was really key. We wanted to make sure we had a trusted partner that we could bring to our clients to make sure that those transactions had the best possible level of security.
That’s a big testament to our relationship with Bluefin because we know we are going to be providing them the absolute best, and safest, experience. For us, that’s our number one goal.
Danielle Duclos: I think that’s really admirable, Courtney, because things such as payment security, data security, cybersecurity – unfortunately because of the confusion of everything over the past couple of years – may not have been a focus for all companies. And as a result of that, especially with your comment about the online purchasing, you’re seeing a rise in fraud.
It’s a relatively new partnership between our two companies, but what has been the reception among clients so far? Do you find that people understand the importance of encrypting payments? Do you see enthusiasm for this as people understand, “This is my brand. We need to protect this. We need to protect our clients’ information too”?
Courtney Files: Yes, I think they have the confidence that those payments are being processed securely. That’s a huge lift that we’re taking off of them. They don’t have that burden anymore because of the PCI compliance P2PE provides, and the decreased risk of that fraud is also very important.
We have an enormous responsibility to our clients, and our clients’ patrons and their guests. We’re giving them the payment processing tools so they are protecting their clients and their organization.
Danielle Duclos: Your company serves everybody from standalone stadiums to stadiums that are integrated with the higher education environment, all the way down to a theater that may be at a community college, correct?
Courtney Files: Yes, and that is exactly why we needed to partner with somebody like Bluefin, because, again, that fraud is everywhere. And especially colleges and universities, they have so many ticketing transactions – not just sports, not just football, but any type of event from the performing arts, to going to the museum, to a recital. Whether it’s a large corporation or me going with my family, no one should have to worry about the security of someone putting my credit card information into the computer, into the chip and PIN reader. I shouldn’t even have to think about it. I should be able to go on with my everyday activity and trust that the payment is successful and secure.
We are here to make a difference in their everyday work life, as well as their everyday life. We want to provide an amazing application to them that is quality, user-friendly, robust, affordable and simple – yet sophisticated and secure.
And that’s a win-win. It’s a win-win for us at VBO, it’s a win-win for our clients, and it’s a win-win for Bluefin.
Danielle Duclos: Agreed, and one of the things that you mentioned about the colleges and the universities – the thing that strikes me when we talk about breaches, when we talk about brand and protection, is that while VBO is only serving a specific part of the university, it’s just as important as any other payment acceptance environment in that university because it all falls under the same brand. A breach of the ticketing operation, for example, can really take down the university name overall. And that’s kind of crazy to think about when you’re considering how big a university environment might be, right?
Courtney Files: Sure, absolutely. Moving forward, you’re going to see a shift with colleges and universities. The ticketing experience is going to shift to security. It’s not just the features of the software, it’s cybersecurity and making sure that they are prepared for all of those issues, that PCI compliance, the vendor risk on our sides.
On the VBO side, we are starting with the IT folks as opposed to the box office and the operational departments. Because I feel like in our current world that we live in, unfortunately, that security and being prepared on your college or university campus is huge, and that’s a big priority for them.
Danielle Duclos: One thing that I find to be a huge benefit for the PCI P2PE solution versus what we would call end-to-end encryption solutions – and those are just solutions that have not been validated by the PCI Standards Council – is the reduction in PCI scope.
When we talk to colleges and universities, that is very much forefront on their minds because with the PCI-validated point-to-point encryption solution, you can go from a very large SAQ D down to a PCI P2PE SAQ. I think your strategy of talking to IT managers makes a lot of sense because, typically, those are the folks in the university environment that have a pulse on security. Is that your experience with speaking to these people?
Courtney Files: Absolutely. I feel like, Danielle, if you were to speak to the box office manager for that college or university – whether it be on the performing arts side or the collegiate sports world – that they’re going to be taken aback by that question. Like, “Wait, what? What did you say? PCI compliance? HECVAT? What are those words? What does that mean?” On the other hand, speaking to IT, they’re laser-focused on that. We’re spending not just money, but time to make sure we are prepared on the security side so we can meet the needs that the colleges and universities are asking for. And really not just asking for, but demanding “We have to have this.”
We are so honored to be able to work with organizations like yourself to help our clients grow in revenue and build deeper engagement with their patrons. But again, I go back to keeping them safe because security is really everything in our world today.
Danielle Duclos: That’s excellent. And I applaud you again for the partnership. We are excited to move forward with your current clients but also the new prospects that come to us and VBO to get this solution in place.
Thank you so much, Courtney, for joining us today. Really valuable insight into what’s going on with ticketing, VBO and all of your different benefits to clients, but also very much your focus on cybersecurity, payment security, and data security at the forefront.
Courtney Files: Thank you so much for having me. We truly care about our clients and their patrons, and our goal is to give them the best possible experience, and that’s why I think it’s really a testament to our relationship with you all on the Bluefin side because we can absolutely give them everything that they want, and they deserve, and they need.