Tickets for Madonna's Abu Dhabi concert this summer, with prices starting at Dh350 (US$95.28), are expected to go fast when sales begin on February 27. Shatha Al Romaithi, a spokeswoman for the concert's organiser, FLASH Entertainment, speaks about how the company's booking system copes with high demand.
How quickly do you expect the concert to sell out?
On Madonna's last tour in 2008-09 she averaged 41,000 people per show … She is a global icon. We anticipate demand in the region to be very high, particularly in the first 24 hours, and so urge fans to buy early to avoid disappointment.
How do you prevent your booking system crashing with high demand?
We introduced a world-class system to the region in September 2010 to cater for the Fifa Club World Cup [that year]. It was a huge success, with a capacity 181,000 people attending the tournament matches. While the system may slow slightly in the first few hours as internet traffic is at its highest, it is more than capable of handling the volume required. We have reliable and efficient platforms in place to ensure all 22,000 tickets can be purchased with minimal delay.
Has it ever crashed?
We have organised some very big concerts since we launched the new ticketing system in September 2010. Most recently, the Coldplay concert on New Year's Eve was the fastest-selling show we have had since the band last played here in 2009. The system worked perfectly and we experienced no delays.
What measures do you put in place to stop people buying tickets in bulk and selling them on at a higher price?
It is illegal to buy concert tickets and sell them on at inflated prices. We reserve the right to take appropriate measures, including ticket cancellation, should ticket touting be discovered. In line with international best practice in this area, we will also be limiting the quantity of tickets individuals are able to purchase at launch to eight tickets per transaction.
What challenges do you face in staging such a large concert?
We have staged many large concerts over the past few years - Paul McCartney, Metallica, Shakira, Coldplay, Rihanna, Kanye West, Prince, Beyoncé and many more. All of these events present the same particular challenges in areas such as production, operations, ticketing, crowd management, health and safety, etc. The Madonna concert will of course be a landmark moment for Abu Dhabi and the region, but we apply the same highly professional levels of care, diligence and responsibility to the staging of the event as any other.
What proportion of your bookings is from outside the UAE?
While the majority of our concertgoers are from the UAE, we do see people fly in for the shows from the GCC, Europe and as far afield as Canada.