World Didn't End, Ticket Fees Continue
The world didn't end... so Fee Free Friday is back! This week we do a final tally on how badly it really went for the public trying to get tickets to the London 2012 Olympics. We also find a provocative new proposal to end the ticket fee misery and sell tickets with the lowest ticket fees. Plus we hope you don't get stuck in the Purple Tunnel of Doom (again) and a special end of the world edition of the Wall of Woe.
We are thankful the world didn't end, but given the outrageous ticket fees below, a Mayan apocalypse maybe would've been better...
All in the Family
As early as June of this year, Fee Free Friday began its on-going tally of the unreasonable ticket fees associated with the London Olympic games. We can finally report just how bad it was with the help of Mail Online UK and Eurosport UK.
It turns out the number of tickets available to the public for purchase was extremely limited, far more so than originally reported.
Earlier this summer a steady stream of complaints were made about the Olympic venues being half empty yet tickets were "sold out". Big marquee events like the opening ceremony may have been filled to capacity but it didn't get that way by proper transactions at the box office. Eurosport UK provides the details on show how difficult it was for fans to buy tickets.
For cycling sessions only 1,957 out of the 4,331 seats went on sale to the public and most of them cost over £150 with some as high as £325. The figures appear to break a promise made by organizers to have an equal number of tickets available in each price band. Tickets for modern pentathlon, sailing, tennis and triathlon all had most of their tickets sold at the higher end of the price bracket. LOCOG boasted before the Games that they would provide 2.5 million tickets at £20 or less but over half of these came in football. For cycling, just 2,160 tickets went on sale at the £20 mark during the entire Olympics.
But that is not the worst of it. There was just 1 (one!) ticket made available for the day Britian's Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell won silver medal. That is not a typo. A single ticket was all to be had. 99.9% of the ticket inventory wen to olympic employees, "VIP" guests and sponsor employees and their families. Proof comes in the form of a damning final report released this week. Mail Online UK reports:
The full extent of the ticketing farce at the London Olympics has been exposed by the publication of a full review of the ticketing program. The dense 976-page document highlights the gross number of tickets available to the 'Olympic family' compared to the relatively few available to the paying public for the most popular events and sessions.
Extraordinarily, there was a sailing finals day on August 9 - the day Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell won silver in the men's 470 - where 851 tickets went to sponsors and only one single ticket was available to the public. Furthermore, for Danny Boyle's iconic opening ceremony - one of the most in-demand tickets of the fortnight - only 44 per cent of the tickets were available to the public while 66 per cent went to the Olympic family.
In what may be the most erogenous case of ticket inventory manipulation ever, we have a feeling this isn't the "final-final" report. More horror stories may still be forthcoming. If and when they do, we'll report back.
Man In The Middle
Exorbitant ticket fees for theater tickets have long been a sore spot for those wishing to enrich themselves with The Arts. Customers want tickets with low fees. One would think that the ultimate solution is to enact legislation to bring ticket fees to a reasonable level, and in several countries around the world, that is what's happening.
Rather than relying on a government enforced reduction, what if the entire way in which the public buys tickets was completely turned upside down, eliminating all the interim steps between the ticket buyer and the performer(s)? Such a radical idea has already been put into place by a talent agency in Europe.
In Matthew Caines spoke to that talent agency in his article for the Guardian UK entitled 'Has the time come to cut out the middle men?'
Artists can choose to give away whatever they want to their fans," explains Sharron Elkabas, co-director of MN2S. "It could be a music video or a teaser snippet of a forthcoming release. We agree a ticket allocation for each event at the time of contracting a booking with the promoter. All the ticket revenue goes to the promoter but the artist gathers valuable fan data through selling the ticket directly, which they can use to better engage and connect with their fans.
Until Apple launched the first iPhone, the widely accepted business practice was the mobile carrier's are in control of the transaction Carrier's purchased phone handsets from manufacturers and re-sold them, with steep mark-up and service charges, to the public. Then, in 2007, Apple's innovation lead to mobile phones being purchased directly from the maker by the public - regulating the middle man (the carriers) to a seat on the sidelines.
Will MN2S be the Apple of event tickets?
Purple Tunnel of Doom
Fee Free Friday always has an ear to the ground to listen for stampedes of hapless ticket buyers storming a box office. Those stampedes signal demand, and high demand almost always causes outrageous face value mark-up (which we consider to be a ticket fee). Demand is very high for the upcoming inauguration of president Obama as he begins his second term.
Ticket distribution for the last inauguration was a genuine mess. Thousands went without. Families with small children who wanted to see the historic 2009 event could not get tickets, and those who did were made to adhere to a baffling color coded system hardly anyone understood - including those in charge of the event.
Annie Gowen writes that the dreaded color coded ticket system remains, but there will be no purple color ticket this time around. It was the purple ticket that caused the most problems in 2009. Purple was the equivalent of "general admission", the other color codes ranked higher in exclusiveness for special guests, foreign dignitaries and big campaign donors.
The purple ticket holders had to wait in a mile long line to get to their viewing spots. The line ended up being inside a lone tunnel, that became known as "The Purple Tunnel of Doom" (video above). From Gowen's article:
Inauguration officials said they are doing everything they can to ensure that there will not be a similar ticket fiasco for President Obama’s second swearing-in.
This month, they announced that the Third Street tunnel will be closed. They will also be increasing the number of signs directing ticket-holders, adding more civilian volunteers as guides, bringing in backup generators for security checkpoints and establishing a social-media hub where law enforcement agencies can monitor Twitter and other sites for problems as they play out in real time.
Overall, officials have said they expect the crowd for the Jan. 21 ceremony to be much smaller than the 1.8 million who attended last time — perhaps closer to 1 million. But Schumer’s committee will be distributing a similar number of tickets for standing and seated spots on the Capitol lawn, about 250,000, which are given to lawmakers to distribute to constituents. Last time, about 241,000 tickets were distributed with color codes for various entry points — orange, yellow, blue, silver and purple. At the time, they said 5,000 were shut out, but the number was probably higher.
They’ll use the color-coded system again — but no purple tickets.
Gowen goes on to write the extensive effort to make this inauguration better in every way. Knowing that the general public is being given their due respect and the ticket distribution system is built around fair practices should encourage those who lost out last time to try again.
...so long as the underlying software can handle the demand.
Wall of Woe - End of the World Edition
Gallows humor is a big part of every edition of Fee Free Friday and this week isn't any different. The world did not come to an end as foretold by the Mayans, but reading this week's Wall of Woe, one could think it's about to.
Lastly, a moment of Zen on Facebook
"Convenience fees, service fees, deliverance fees, facility fees, charge you extra money for no reason fee & by the end your ticket has jumped about 50% from the original price. Come on free market capitalism- fix this! An affordable alternative is needed!"
We can help you with that Meghan :D
Sell Tickets With the Lowest Ticket Fees
ThunderTix does not charge you 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 the long term vision of your business is tied directly to their satisfaction. You can sell tickets with low fees to cover the subscription cost of ThunderTix. 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. ThunderTix lets you sell tickets online with no fees.
Fee Free Friday will be on a brief hiatus for the holidays but rest assured no stone will be left un-turned come the new year.