Fee Free Friday - First in a new series
ThunderTix is the only box office software with no per ticket fees, utilizing a subscription based pricing model, so we’re already “fee-free”. Venues have the option of offering no fee tickets - Why not pass that savings along to the consumer?
Ticket fees are one of the most controversial aspects of an event. The ticket industry as a whole is rife with litigation stemming from consumer dissatisfaction with high ticket fees, some of which are 125% of the face value of the ticket (That's too darn high!)
To foster a healthy debate on the issue of high fees, we’ve started a new blog post series called Fee Free Friday.
What can you expect from Fee Free Friday? Examples of consumer dissatisfaction with high tickets fees, our guidelines and best practices for establishing reasonable ticket fees for your event, breaking news on the ticket fee litigation front and, just for fun, a little bit of "What were they thinking?" armchair quarterbacking of events gone awry.
For the first Fee Free Friday post, we’ll examine two recently published editorials on the high price of concert tickets and the associated per ticket fees.
Madonna vs. The Boss
A few days ago Bob Sirott mentioned the high cost of concert tickets in his widely read ‘One more thing’ editorials. Citing two of the top grossing tours with tickets currently on sale, Sirott wonders if the costs consumers pay are detrimental to the concert tour industry:
Bruce Springsteen tickets go on sale Saturday for his Wrigley Field show. Top ticket price is $103. Madonna is coming to the United Center in September. The best seats for that concert have already been selling for $355.
Note the potentially prophetic end to Sirott's OpEd;
Some in the concert industry think if ticket prices keep going up there will eventually be push-back and business could be adversely affected. It may get worse before it gets better.
Without going into the specifics of what percent of the Bruce Springsteen and Madonna ticket prices are fees, it is safe to assume the dissatisfaction about the face value is exacerbated by them. You can get a feel for the push-back in the comments of Sirott's OpEd and in the lively discussion he had with his fellow music fans on his Facebook page.
Consumers are savvy and fully aware that there are costs in producing a big professional concert, but they also have a shrewd sense of when undue gouging is occurring. The economy has not yet recovered from the 2008 crisis - returning to pre-2008 ticket prices ( and fee percentages ) too rapidly may spoil the burgeoning profitability that the concert tour industry is enjoying.
With signs of life returning to the live music concert market, the opportunity is there to abstain from charging exorbitant per ticket fees as a "welcome back" to music fans and concert goers nationwide. Customers would always prefer no fee tickets.
Fee is 125% of the ticket face value
In a different OpEd, Jim Stingl wrote of his dismay for the price of tickets to the popular Summerfest music festival in Milwaukee Wisconsin, criticizing the very high per ticket fees specifically:
I contracted a bad case of sticker shock when someone told me that the fees tacked on to each ticket for Summerfest's main acts had ballooned to $25 or $30. Weren't the convenience fees maybe 5 or 10 bucks before, enough to cover the cost of someone being nice enough to sell the tickets to you? I clicked on the fest site on Monday to see if this could possibly be true...
It showed, for instance, that two lawn seats cost $40, but that the added fees were $50.20. That's $25.10 each, or 125% of the face value of the tickets. Concerts are fun, but you really have to hold your nose until you get past the ticket ordering. Personally, I love Summerfest, but you'll find me at the side stages where it's clear no fees are added.
Just like the Sirott’s OpEd, Stingl's elicited a torrent of comments from his readership. The rancor exhibited in the comments of both opinion pieces pales in comparison to what concert goers are saying on websites like The Consumerist and Amplicate. The latter has four hundred pages of less-than-pleased comments made by consumers about TicketMaster.
Rather than ignore these examples of adverse consumer reactions to high fees, we encourage you to use them as a guideline when choosing a per-ticket fee amount, if any at all.
Unlike Summerfest, there are several music festivals that have chosen ThunderTix as their box office software to set fees at a level in-line with consumer expectations. In addition to low fees, one of those festivals, the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in upstate New York, has an "early bird" special, effectively addressing both issues in the OpEds cited earlier in this post.
Other ThunderTix music festivals are Long's Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival, Rooftop Rodeo at the Estes Park fairgrounds and the Georgia Mountain Roots & Music Festival.
Each of these use their ThunderTix account to apply fees with temperance, finding the balance between the cost requirements of a successful event and serving the consumer's best interest. When choosing the right ticketing website, it's important to evaluate every aspect of the online ticketing service, including flexibility of ticket fees and ticket prices. ThunderTix founder Dawn Green has written of the need for ticket fee temperance:
With ThunderTix, you have complete control over fees including the decision to go “fee-free”. Understanding that customers don’t mind paying a reasonable fee, ThunderTix provides a great opportunity to add to your venue’s profitability.
You are encouraged to read the 5 types of event ticketing software.
Should you charge ticket fees?
Not sure if you are using temperance when charging ticket fees? We would love to work directly with you on a ticket fee temperance strategy, or better yet, convince you to make your event completely "fee free".