Today the world would have witnessed the opening of the XXXII Olympiad Games, hosted for the second time by Tokyo and the fourth time for Japan; the first being in 1964. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the International Olympic Committee have had to set a different kind of Olympic first, by postponing the Games to 2021; the event will now take place between 23rd July – 8th August 2021.

To mark what would have been an event witnessed all over the globe, we chat with Donovan Ferreti who at the time, was Head of Ticketing and Hospitality for the Olympic Organising Committee in Rio in 2016.

Now CEO of CTS EVENTIM Brazil, Donovan shares some of his insights, learnings and experiences with us.

“It is vital that you have a company with deep knowledge in Ticketing and a reliable and robust system; a solution that you can trust. We sold in a single day more than 1 million tickets (an Olympic first) and Rio2016 was the first edition of the Games with no system glitches; two accolades that were very proud of”.

- Donovan Ferreti

( CEO, EVENTIM Brazil (formerly Head of Ticketing and Hospitality, Rio, 2016) )

Donovan Ferreti - Gold Medal Ticketing by CTS EVENTIM.

Being Head of Ticketing & Hospitality for the RIO2016 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee is a huge responsibility and such a high-profile event – it must have had its challenges to say the least. Can you share with us some of the more difficult challenges you faced and how you overcame them?

“The first edition of the Games in South America was surrounded by challenges in the Ticketing area. Some related to the sports/disciplines that were not so popular in Brazil, which lead us to develop a sport by sport business plan where we had to tackle the sales process, define the prices and the seating configurations. Other challenges were related to compiling the technology and required features in order to select the company that could provide an easy, secure, reliable and friendly ticket system solution”.

In early 2016, Brazil was hit with the Zika virus which nearly closed the Games (much like the situation Tokyo faced this year). How did you deal with that situation in particular?

“The Zika was definitely one of the huge challenges that we faced in 2016, and in my opinion, we were in a much better situation when compared to the COVID-19 pandemic that is heavily impacting all of us around the world currently. I think, the fact that the virus was transmitted by a mosquito and could therefore be prevented by using a mosquito repellent, encouraged most of the fans to not cancel their plans to come to Rio de Janeiro and enjoy the Olympic experience. As there is no current vaccine or preventative for COVID-19, it has left Tokyo in a position where they have had to postpone. Of course, we had some cancellations as a result, but it was a very small portion and when the tickets went back on sale, they were gone in seconds”.

Gold Medal Ticketing by CTS EVENTIM.

You spent some time in the UK when London 2012 was taking place in preparation for Rio. What did you learn about your time in the UK and what did you take with you to use in Rio?

“I had a great time in London 2012! This edition of the Games was unique, and it was amazing to see years of planning become a reality. I learned that you need to implement exhaustive planning with multiple scenarios and be prepared to make decisions. Decisions need to be made all the time, sometimes with additional information to guide you, but others based on your previous knowledge and your gut feeling and experience. On top of that, it is not possible to deliver a successful Games without a great team of experts, a hands-on group that are passionate to embrace the challenge, dedicate their time and brains to make it happen”.

You must have many amazing highs from working on 2016 – can you pinpoint this to one moment where you could sit back and think ‘wow’?

“One moment that still lives in my mind was the first time that I stepped into the Olympic Park, on the 5th day of the Games. I remember that I was in the MOC (Main Operation Centre), a place where all Operational aspects of the Games are managed and centralised, and at times, an exceptionally stressful environment. 100% of my time in the MOC involved making decisions about issues or how to prevent them and on this particular day my initial feeling was that things weren’t going well outside. We were facing an issue at the Basketball Arena, related to a row of seats that were blocked by cameras, and I decided to see it in person, since the MOC was located near the Park. When I left the MOC and entered in the Park, my vision completely changed. I saw people having fun, laughing, carrying the mascots, plenty of families walking around and discovering the Park. A kid with his mother stopped me to say they recognised me from the interviews on TV, and they would like to say thanks for the tickets that they received from our inclusion program, saying they wouldn’t have been able to buy those and that the day will be an unforgettable experience for them. After that, I realised that my day was full of issues and decisions to be taken, but most of them were far from the public eyes, behind the scenes. The Games was already a tremendous success”.

Donovan Ferreti - Gold Medal Ticketing by CTS EVENTIM.

Were you part of the procurement process for selecting the ticketing partner for the Games? If so, what made the EVENTIM solution stand out from the crowd?

“The ticketing team was fully involved in the specification process and we created a very detailed RFP in order to find a proper system to fulfil the local need; we were looking for a partner, not only a ticketing system solution. EVENTIM qualified to our shortlist, because they did their homework, tackling in their presentation the features and customisations described in our documentation. Their previous experience (including Sochi 2014), price proposal and desire to expand their business into South America, (as a legacy for the territory), contributed in the process to define their company as the official Ticketing System Provider”.

How important is the right ticketing partner for an event of this size and nature?

“It is vital that you have a company with deep knowledge in Ticketing and a reliable and robust system; a solution that you can trust. We sold in a single day more than 1 million tickets (an Olympic first) and Rio2016 was the first edition of the Games with no system glitches; two accolades that were very proud of”.

So, trust is really important?

“There are so many challenges to plan and to execute on big events like this, that if you have a fast, easy to use and secure ticketing solution that allows consumers to buy what they want with no problems or fuss, you can trust that the system will do the heavy lifting. This in turn will allow you to focus on other equally important points, such as venue building, staff and infrastructure for the Games time, ticket printing and delivery, among others, so yes, its crucial”.

At the time, you had no previous experience of the EVENTIM platform and its capabilities. What aspect of EVENTIM’s technology and operation particularly impressed you?

“Definitely the already exiting features in the system, the multiple ways to do the same thing in order to customise the user experience. Another important point was the high profile of the EVENTIM staff allocated to the project. Great professionals from different nationalities, that contributed to a multicultural ticketing program”.

Gold Medal Ticketing by CTS EVENTIM.

What would you say to anyone considering using the EVENTIM platform for a tournament of this nature?

“To explore the knowledge of the EVENTIM team and clearly explain your needs and demands related to your local market. I’m sure they will be able to contribute and deliver a solution that will fit your needs, regardless of what market or sector you work in”.

Looking back at your time working on the Games, is there anything you would have done differently?

“Sure, there are plenty of things that could have been better. Today I can see that having learned and absorbed the knowledge from my time on the Olympics, but I’m extremely happy with what was delivered and with the experience and good friends that this opportunity brought to my life; I’m extremely grateful for it”.

You’re also a ticketing consultant on the (now) 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Can you share any inside information with us about what to expect for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies?!

“I expect the same spectacular presentations that I saw in the last editions of the Games, the chance to share unique moments with our families and friends, a chance to celebrate the life and see new world records and a chance to inspire and keep dreaming with better days”.

Thank you Donovan, for taking the time out of your day to talk with us and share some of your memories!

Gold Medal Ticketing by CTS EVENTIM.

July 24th, 2020

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