STT Presents: The Ticket Re-seller World

Last week, I attended BC AIM’s second Luncheon of the season, where Showtime Tickets’ very own Murray Pratt was featured as a guest speaker.
Murray discussed the secondary ticket market’s history, emergence, major players and future. He also gave the crowd some tips, fan to fan, for not only securing tickets for highly-desired events, but doing so at the lowest possible prices. Here are a few of Murray’s PowerPoint slides to give you a better idea (Click on a thumbnail for a bigger image):

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Role of Ticket Re-Seller

  • Provide ‘ACCESS’
  • Connect buyers and sellers – ‘market facilitator’
  • Expertise in knowing what, how, when, where, and how much to buy
  • Matching product to customers’ interests and passions

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Needs Served: Ticket Re-Sellers

  • Avoid Standing in line-ups
  • No need to alter schedule to buy online
  • Watching for new tickets as they become available
  • Obtain desired seat location & numbers
  • Provide predictability and planning – travel
  • ‘You Social concierge’ – quality of life – experience
  • Monetize your ticket investment

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What can a FAN do?

  • Sign up forFan Clubs – straight to the band
  • Buy in groups – ticket limits are often 4
  • Know what you want -move fast – be prepared
  • Apply to contests – radio promotions
  • Location ‘arbitrage’ – travelling?
  • Utilize all the avenues – distributors, brokers, exchanges
  • NATB Broker -‘do the work for you’

After finishing his presentation, Murray tackled the crowd’s toughest questions-here is a little taste:
Question: VANOC said that they are refusing to co-operate with ticket brokers. How is that going to impact ShowTime Tickets?
Murray’s Response: Well, VANOC’s position on this issue is that they are worried about fraudulent tickets getting into the market. We understand the concern because we have absolutely the same concern. We have a vested interest in making sure fraud is avoided with tickets, because everyone suffers – especially the consumer who may have had their dreams of attending an Olympic event dashed. I think it is in everyone’s best interest in the ticket industry to work together to stamp out fraud. We are willing to cooperate with VANOC in this regard.
Question: What can a promoter do to keep tickets from leaking into the secondary market?
Murray’s Response: There’s really nothing you can do that will completely shut down the secondary market-the market will be there as long as people want to buy and sell their tickets to further their own economic benefit. However, a Promoter has every right to further his/her economic interests – their tools lie in how 1) they price the tickets, 2) when they sell or distribute the tickets and 3) the volume of tickets they sell — and I would argue how transparent they want to be in the process The sheer fact that the ticket often gets sold well in advance of the event ensures that you have a secondary market. The ‘market value’ of a ticket fluctuates over time—for instance the value of the Gold Medal Hockey game at the Olympics will be determined 2 days in advance at the semi-finals where we will see if Canada is playing for Gold or, god forbid, the Bronze medal. People decide to sell or buy a ticket for a variety of reasons – one you saw earlier where someone was moving out of town and couldn’t attend a show that they had bought a ticket for. You have to remember though-the market moves up and down. As I mentioned earlier, people have been known to get into a Maple Leafs game for just $5.
Follow up: But aren’t bands implementing paperless systems and other initiatives because it is them, and not the promoters, who want the resellers stopped? I mean, with a secondary market, prices can potentially increase to a point where the real fans, who want tickets but can no longer afford them, suffer.
Murray’s Response: Well first of all, it’s hard to define a real “fan”? It’s a bit of a slippery slope – is it the ardent follower who listens actively to their music or the person who is willing to pay significant dollars because they really love the band – some fans don’t have the time to get on line, wait on the phone or lineup for tickets because of responsibilities such as work or taking care of kids. What are they supposed to do? Are they not fans too? Secondly, while paperless tickets are one of the tools that may be used to control the resell market it’s unlikely that it will become the norm, or expand to any great degree, due to the fact that ‘paperless tickets’ are hard on the venue itself – verifying ID and Credit Cards at the gate can be very onerous on the venue. The big question to ask is – how is that in the interests of the consumer? Remember the woman who had to sell her tickets because she was helping her daughter move out of town as she heads to medical school…..what is she to do now, especially when she bought a paperless ticket that may now be worthless to her. In terms of the bands’ wishes, I understand it and I respect it, if the band wants it. But at the end of the day, it seems to be serving their interests in fighting the re-sale market …..With consumers getting caught in the ‘crossfire’
Question: In terms of the speed of tickets selling, such as AC/DC selling out in 4 minutes in Vancouver, does it cut the fan out? I mean do people go to ticket resellers not because they want to, but because it’s basically like “well there’s not even a point of trying to get tickets-I’ll use a reseller…I guess”.
Murray’s Response: Well, as I said, there are different definitions of fans. Some fans are too busy-they have three kids, a job, and no time to lineup- I would argue that’s a fan too. I understand the concern however –the market and the industry addresses the issue in a number of ways – for instance, bands such as Coldplay will hold the front section for fans who originally bought seats in the balcony and in the venue. Their manager goes up to the high sections and brings them down to the front rows in order to create an atmosphere that the band wants – they have every right to do so. As I mentioned in my presentation there are a number of things a fan can do to get tickets on the original sale – one of them is to join a fan club. I am a member of the Elton John fan club myself for that very reason.

STT Discusses 2010 Tickets in The Province!

VANOC warns of bogus ticket firms
October 2, 3008
The Province

VANOC tackles the issue of ticket re-sellers as Vancouver 2010 tickets go on sale today. Murray Pratt of ShowTime Tickets said his company is serious about making sure customers get legitimate tickets. “Our intent is to work on behalf of our customers,” he said, “Go participate in the sale [of 2010 tickets] and if you can get them there, fine. But if you can’t get in on that, or didn’t get in on the initial allocation, folks like us can help.”

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