Screens that show the Raffle
Screens that show the Raffle
Screens that show the Raffle


Fairly distributing a few tickets between thousands of people

TicketSwap is a safe and fair marketplace for e-tickets. Most people use the platform when the official ticket sale has been sold out. Sold-out events often have a huge demand for tickets while the supply is low. To still have a chance of getting a ticket, people enable ticket alerts. Most of them receive the alerts in the form of push notifications.

The tickets are in such high demand that sometimes even thousands of people are waiting for an alert and immediately tap on it. The first person to press the buy button will reserve the ticket in their cart, leaving the other people disappointed. After missing out on a ticket many times, people lost trust in the system. They think bots are getting all the tickets or that the app is broken.

This is the experience of most people after tapping on a notification. The ticket is already being paid for.

Understanding our current technology

Our research started by investigating how the current system works and what was tried in the past.

We learned that many people are opening the ticket alert while they don’t have a chance of actually purchasing it. They either are being notified too late or have an old device or slow internet connection that loads the page too slow. We saw this as unfair and wanted to improve the situation.

High-level visual representation of how ticket alerts are being sent out in random batches of users.
High-level visual representation of how ticket alerts are being sent out in random batches of users.

How people currently get tickets

By interviewing users and analysing data we found out that the majority of users are trying to get tickets in three ways:

  • They tap on the place where the notification appears and on the spot where the buy button is positioned (if you are fast enough).
  • They refresh the event page that shows available tickets and wait for a listing to appear.
  • They try to use bots, which is unfair to other users.

Except for the users that are trying to use bots, and risking a ban while doing that, we confirmed that a lot of frustration is caused by endless refreshing or tapping in the pursuit of a ticket.

Currently, the highest chance of getting a ticket is by continuously tapping on the spot of the notification and where the buy button will appear.

Possible directions

We looked at what our competitors are doing but also at how other situations with high demand and low supply are being handled. After brainstorming ideas we ended up with three viable directions that each had their own challenges.

Raffle or lottery

Tickets that become available will be distributed at random. A lottery approach is interesting but can also be very demotivating because of the lack of control and low chance of getting a ticket.


The first person that subscribes to the list, will get the first ticket that becomes available. The length of a waitlist will make it impossible for new users to get a ticket. This could potentially decrease the growth of our platform.


The highest bidder gets the ticket. The idea of an auction was quickly dismissed because at TicketSwap the selling price is capped at 120% of the original price. There would simply be too many bids with the same maximum price.

The raffle

After taking a closer look at all three directions we decided to explore the raffle/lottery approach. The concept we came up with is as follows:

  • There will be a raffle for every listing.
  • After two minutes the raffle will be drawn, to ensure that the seller also has a quick selling experience.
  • The chance of winning the raffle will be increased each time someone loses. This will be A reward for putting in the effort. We called this the “chance boost”.
  • During the draw, we will show that a lot of real people are trying got get the ticket. This way we want to reduce the impression that only bots get them.
The happy path of the raffle concept.
The happy path of the raffle concept.

Design, Prototype, Test, Repeat

We jumped into a few intense days of designing, prototyping and testing. We wanted to make sure the concept was easily understood and perceived as fair. We discovered that the concept is best understood by explaining it in small chunks during the experience.

Small change, big difference

The biggest win in clarity was made by changing the visual representation of the chance to win. We started by using a thunder icon and calling it a "chance boost". We changed this to a four-leaved clover, a symbol of luck in many countries across the world. This change made it immediately clear that it represented luck. The thunder icon gave the impression that the user with the highest score will always win.

The thunder icon and four-leaved clover icon.
The thunder icon and four-leaved clover icon.

The outcome

We were about to release the first version of the raffle when the pandemic started. This meant that there weren’t any big events to test the feature with.

Smaller tests with real events went very well and looked promising. Users gave positive feedback and we collected some valuable early insights.

One of our concerns was how it would perform on a bigger scale. While I left TicketSwap during the pandemic I heard from my former colleagues the chance boost, represented by the four-leaved clovers, didn't work out on a bigger scale. The differences in the chance to win became too big as the group of interested people grew. The clover system is now removed and the raffle is being used for popular events without them.

Losing the raffle, but still getting a chance boost.