Gobsmacked By Ticket Fees
Fee Free Friday, your weekly round-up of ticket fee and event industry news is back! Is it time to ditch face values from being printed on ticket? Are fees hampering the sale of Rolling Stones tickets? Are people really taking out a second mortgages to pay for tickets? You've got questions, Fee Free Friday has answers. Plus the weekly Wall of Woe features a mother who is "gobsmacked" by ticket fees when trying to take her daughters to see Disney Princesses On Ice.
The dictionary defines the word gobsmacked as "being appalled, exhibiting the effects of an unwelcome surprise." You may be gobsmacked after reading the below...
Time To Ditch Ticket Fees
Regular readers of Fee Free Friday know of the long-standing call to ditch unreasonable ticket fees. Now Owen Sheppard is calling to ditch a similar pain point - the notion of face value representing actual costs. Sheppard asks 'Is It Time To Ditch The 'Face Value' On Concert Tickets?' regarding the sometimes less than forthcoming prices printed on tickets, actual inaccuracies or the post-purchase mark-up.
Your heart is racing, you refresh the page and when you realize how much you are about to spend on tickets, not to mention the fees and delivery costs, your jaw drops...Get rid of the face value prices printed on the ticket, they don’t mean much anymore. If supply overwhelms demand, shouldn't promoters scrap the ‘set in stone’ sale price and lure extra fans in by dipping prices? If it sells more tickets in the long run, then yes. It’s simple economics that works in all forms of retail to discount excess stock.
In addition to the sticker shock of face value mark-up (which is a form of ticket fee) Sheppard cites some rather nefarious practices, such as hold-backs, that hurt consumers and the event industry as a whole. Hold-backs, the practice of intentionally manipulating ticket availability to artificially inflate prices, account for the most egregious (and unnecessary) face value distortions. Calls to ditch face value also stem from when concertgoers find myriad gotchas at the end of the purchase process.
Ultimately, Sheppard warns that unscrupulous practices in ticketing can end up biting the hand that feeds it. Once the consumer's tolerance level for high fees and face value mark-up is exceeded the venue may find demand tickets collapses, leaving a glut of unsold tickets.
And speaking for demand collapsing because of high fees...
Fee Free Tickets Gather No Moss
Earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported of a secret Rolling Stones concert in a tiny nightclub in Los Angeles (video above). Tickets to the secret show were just twenty-dollars - cash only - and limited to one per-person. That amount is quite different from the widely reported prices of Rolling Stones concerts tickets - $600 each. Per-ticket fees for a $600 dollar Stones ticket can be up to $100, a sum referred to as "insane" buy long time Stones fans.
And as Andy Fixmer suggests in his report, those outrageous ticket prices may be contributing to sluggish sales. According to Fixmer, $600 floor seats to the Stones performance at the Staples Center are still available.
When asked how it is the coveted floor seats were still available at this late date, AEG said in a statement that the date of the first show had to be moved by a day because of professional basketball and hockey playoffs. AEG seems to discount the notion that high prices are hampering sales when it says "We fully expect Friday’s Staples Center show to be sold out and are very pleased with ticket sales for all upcoming shows."
AEG should be commended, however, for at least trying to keep ticket fees in check. As noted in an earlier Fee Free Friday, the ticketing industry giant is locked in a battle to the death with Ticketmaster over per-ticket fees.
Take Out A Second Mortgage
How much unreasonable per-ticket fees inflate the costs is usually measured in percentage points. But how about measuring a ticket fee by whether or not it causes a consumer to take out a second mortgage on their home? Such a tall tale is being told on The Record:
Eager to see big-name pop acts this summer, such as Beyoncé, Bon Jovi or tour mates Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake? You're in luck. They're coming through the area. The bad news? You may have to take out a second mortgage to afford a pair of tickets.
All kidding aside, the post containing the above exaggeration is actually a well-written guide for ticket buyers to avoid ticket fees and other event industry bad practices that inflate prices. Some of the work-a-rounds in 'Being ticket savvy this summer concert season' show just how desperate the public is to avoid paying for over-priced tickets:
Get first dibs
If the concert you want to see hasn't begun to sell tickets, check if there's a pre-sale happening.
Wait it out
If you miss out on buying tickets when they're first released, be patient and look for tickets on the secondary market closer to the concert date — about 48 hours before the concert.
Try lesser-known venues
Tickets at marquee venues generally cost more than tickets at other venues in the area. For example, tickets at Madison Square Garden can be slightly higher than tickets for the Prudential Center in Newark.
Ignore the view
More artists are selling tickets behind the stage to make as much money as possible in each venue because it's harder to see the singer or band, those tickets are often much cheaper than others.
If you own a venue or operate any kind of ticketed event, The Record's consumer guide is recommended reading.
Wall of Woe
Each week, the Wall of Woe lists exactly what is being said about ticket fees, most of which is a venting of frustrations. Venting on the Internet should be taken with a grain of salt of course, since it is frequently done in a non-serious way. However the reaction of a woman trying to buy tickets to take her daughters to Disney On Ice is quite serious:
Disgruntled skating fan Elysia Mills recently bought tickets for a June performance of Disney Princesses On Ice only to be stung with three extra charges on top of the advertised ticket price. The four tickets at $39.50 totaled $158, but four convenience charges totaling $7, four payment processing fees totaling $3.64 and an "order processing fee" of $8, brought the final price to $176.64..."I was a little bit gobsmacked" said Mills.
Here are some other people who are gobsmacked by ticket fees:
The question asked by Rachel Rubenstein isn't just a rhetorical one. And we have another question: "Does your current choice in online ticketing software charge you and your customers per-ticket fees?"
ThunderTix does not charge per ticket fees for selling tickets online or at the box office. We encourage you to pass along that savings to the consumer and show them that the long term vision of your business is tied directly to their satisfaction. Your patrons will love that you don’t add fees. It’s that simple. Lower ticket costs through no added fees translate into higher sales and greater patron satisfaction.