The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is going to a new ticketing system with plenty of high-tech bells and whistles. The new AXS system is designed to handle the Rodeo's tremendous initial ticket sales demand, identify known scalpers and even detect "robot" activity of those brokers using computers to constantly hit the site.
Rodeo officials revealed the details of the new ticketing provider at a Thursday press conference, ending a relationship with Ticketmaster that dates back to the 1980s. HLSR tickets officially go on sale through AXS starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. The 2015 Houston Rodeo extravaganza runs from March 3 to 22.
"We needed a robust system that is able to handle the volume," Joel Cowley, president of the HLSR, says. "We have 1.4 million fans buying tickets, and we want the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to be a positive experience — beginning with the purchase of a ticket."
"Our fan base is largely made of up country-western fans. Country is our staple."
Rodeo enthusiasts can pre-register now for free at axs.com/rodeohouston_signup and store necessary information, getting the initial sign-in steps out of the way and expediting the purchasing process.
Starting Jan. 17, AXS users will be directed to a virtual waiting room that allows customers to "arrive" an hour before ticket sales begin, Cowley says. Customers are shuffled and chosen at random to enter the next step, the virtual store, when tickets can be purchased in a three-step process and then even forwarded through the mobile app to a friend. As buyers complete their transactions, more customers in the waiting room can enter the store.
A place in the waiting room does not guarantee ticket availability, however, and will be activated during high-demand sales periods, Cowley says. He added rodeo fans may purchase tickets for only one performance at time and then must re-enter the waiting room.
E-ticket buyers receive their tickets for free, while those using AXS will be charged $3.50 per ticket service fee, compared to the $4.25 that Ticketmaster charges.
HLSR tickets may also be purchased without a service fee at BBVA Compass Stadium on Jan. 17 and at the SMG box office at NRG Stadium starting on Jan. 19.
"It has always been our goal to provide family-oriented entertainment," Cowley says, "and this new system aids in that process."
Rodeo officials also released the performance genre calendar for the 2015 event, revealing that at least four to five artists will be new to Rodeo Houston and noting that there will be a few more country acts on the schedule. RodeoHouston will reveal the full official concert lineup at 12:05 a.m. Monday, Jan. 12.
"Our fan base is largely made up of country-western fans," Cowley says. "Country is our staple."