Fee Free Friday – May Day Edition

Fee Free Friday - May Day Edition

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Dynamic Pricing Discussion

It's Fee Free Friday! This week's rancor includes a look at how dynamic pricing algorithms may be hiding tickets fees, an example of 150% per ticket service fee(!), and a fee-free victory in Kansas City, Missouri.

Baseball’s new dynamic pricing algorithms

Earlier in the week Ticket News wrote how Major League Baseball teams are using so-called dynamic pricing algorithms for tickets sales to games.

Dynamic pricing has been used by hotels, rental car companies and airlines for years (and it’s none too popular), and its use at popular sporting events is a relatively new practice.

Two companies, Qcue and Digonex, are providing the back-end software that imposes dynamic pricing on baseball ticket buyers. Qcue's Director of Pricing and Operations, Dan Meehan, discussed how the algorithms work with TicketNews:

We've put the technology in place that makes it a lot easier to change the pricing on thousands of tickets at once. [Baseball stadiums are] bigger stadiums than almost any other sport, there's a bigger percentage of seats not held by season ticket holders. Then there's all kinds of factors that go into determining price. The weather, the day of the week, who the opponent is, the starting pitcher.

The somewhat nefarious practice of charging more or less money for a ticket based on the weather or the physical health of a player may not be well received by fans. If such extraneous conditions are being calculated openly into the ticket price, what undisclosed conditions are being added?

Qcue's  Barry Kahn was quoted in the Ticket News post as saying dynamic pricing algorithms are a foregone conclusion.

Dynamic pricing in sports is rapidly becoming commonplace and I think you'll start seeing the term 'dynamic' getting dropped as this just becomes how sports tickets are priced...Some teams are using the terminology to describe minor price changes or changes to a variable pricing structure. Those teams don't necessarily need tools to do this and may opt to make changes manually, but it is our experience that this approach does not drive nearly the same revenue benefits as true dynamic pricing.

So if the weather is extra nice on game day, the ticket price goes up - Is that an ethical “fee” to charge baseball fans?

The jury is still out on what impact dynamic pricing algorithms will have on ticket prices and attendance at Major League Baseball games. We’ll be updating future Fee Free Fridays should the tolerance threshold be exceeded and a fun day at the ballpark is ruined by a "nice weather" fee.

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A 150% service charge

Last year Kevin Lang started a Facebook group called 'Stop Ticketmaster's 100% service fees'. The group has since gone mysteriously dormant but leaves the unsettling legacy of Lang's first hand account of a 150% per ticket fee

My last three experiences with Ticketmaster have been 100% or more ‘convenience charges'. Example, Iron Maiden lawn seats are $18.50 face value, $36 after fees. Motley Crue lawn seats were $10 face. After fees, $25 each. That is a 150% service charge.

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Fee free victory in Kansas City

Timothy Finn writes of a small fee free victory on the 'Back to Rockville' music blog of the Kansas City Star newspaper. Finn has been a long time opponent of unrealistically high ticket fees, something he encounters quite often as part of his job as a music journalist.

Earlier in the year the company that manages the Sprint Center abandoned TicketMaster and introduced it's own service offering called Axs. The ticket service provider switch is seen as a victory for Kansas City music fans. Finn spoke to Shani Tate, senior director of ticket sales at the Sprint Center:

Axs will not charge a delivery fee to customers who  print the tickets they purchased on-line. Axs pricing will be "transparent," meaning the full price of the ticket, with fees, is evident up front and no extra fees are added as the transaction proceeds.

According to the website, Axs is the first initiative under Outbox Enterprises, a joint venture among AEG, Cirque du Soleil's ticketing business and Fred Rosen, former chief executive officer at Ticketmaster ( Heh ). Axs' transparency and willingness to list online event tickets for sale on its website from companies other than itself is very encouraging. We hope this openness is the start of a new industry trend.

The victory at the Sprint Center, however, is in sharp contrast to Finn’s previous experience, which he details in a blog post entitled '$23 reasons to go to the box office'. Note this ticket fee atrocity:

"That's after spending $12.10 in "convenience" and processing charges the $28 ticket will run you $50.75."

no fee ticketing softwareAs always, your ThunderTix account gives you total control over per ticket fees including the option to go fee free. Patrons love venues that don’t add fees. It’s that simple. Lower ticket costs through no added fees translate into higher sales and greater patron satisfaction.

Fee Free Friday will be back next week after we accumulate more wins and losses from the front lines of the War on High Ticket Fees. Until then, be sure to take a look at all the features we have to offer and sign up for a free trial today!