It can be hard to get the tickets you want before they sell out. The next time you want to catch a concert or sporting event, you might be tempted to use an online ticket broker. But before you do, check out this little exposé of the event ticket industry. Behind those sites and platforms that we use to purchase tickets is a fairly dynamic market. It may help to learn a little about how this “economy” works in order to save money at these events and to make sure that you aren’t being taken for a ride by unscrupulous ticket sellers (which isn’t at all too uncommon during popular shows or events when tickets become scarce).
9 Tips For Using Online Event Ticket Sites
Here are a few facts about the event ticket industry and ticket brokers that you may want to know about.
1. Event tickets are available at several sources. There are a few ways to get a hold of what you’re looking for. Try checking out:
- Direct sources such as through authorized venues, event promoters and box offices.
- The primary market, including Ticketmaster and BroadwayTickets.com (for theater tickets), which have contractual relationships with promoters, marketers and venues.
- The secondary market such as online ticket brokers and sites that offer tickets for resale. You can also try your luck with Craigslist or an auction site, but you may find that prices aren’t favorable and the sellers might not be willing to issue any guarantees. Another means to find tickets is to hit your preferred social media sites.
- Individuals who are somehow connected with the events in question. Someone in your personal network might be able to connect you to the tickets you want.
- Individual scalpers who may advertise tickets independently (say via other forums).
2. Some sources and vendors are safer than others. Getting tickets directly from authorized “dealers” or through primary markets would be the safest way to go. Know that the further away you get from the primary market, the riskier it can get in terms of getting what it is you’re paying for. If you’re lucky, you may be able to save more by buying through unofficial means, but you may also be more prone or vulnerable to being ripped off (say, by a scalper).
3. Face value or list price on a ticket may not reflect true value. Like any type of economy, demand and supply drives the markets. If the list price isn’t at fair market value, then you’ll find prices going up through a secondary market. There may be cases when ticket prices are just not set appropriately. Here’s an example: there was a SuperBowl game that once went for around 5 times its list price of between $700 and $900 at a popular ticket broker. This reminds me of the variability in prices that can be found for airline flights — your plane ticket price may not be anywhere close to what other passengers pay for. Savvy customers are the ones who will be saving the most bucks.
4. Some ticket hubs, brokers and sites have the capability to support peer to peer ticket transactions. The secondary market for concert and event tickets is robust, thanks to the number of people who want to see their favorite performers and teams live. Instead of hoping to locate a scalper in the rush of event night, you may want to check out the fan-to-fan ticket networks, such as TicketExchange.
5. Anything goes in the ticket resale market, so you’ll need to be careful about navigating this environment. While the secondary market can be dicey, there are steps being taken to improve consumer protection on this front, but the changes here have been gradual. For instance, Ticketmaster (as a primary seller) is moving into the resale market as well, by building support and making acquisitions in this area. But the takeaway here is that you should scour the resale market with care. Protect yourself by only patronizing well known brokers and online ticket sites, and by using a credit card or a payment mechanism that allows tracking and dispute resolution.
6. Promoters can control supply. The seats and tickets that are available to the public may not be released all at once. That is, supply may become limited for a variety of reasons, which may then affect pricing. For instance, you may have heard about the controversy involving some quickly vanishing tickets for a Hannah Montana concert in 2007. This occurred because the promoter chose to reserve the majority of the tickets for fans, sponsors and other special attendees. A limited number of seats were also released at a date closer to the event.
7. Tickets may be available up to the last moment. Don’t despair if you’re unable to reserve a ticket, since seats may become available at any time. So it’s best to keep looking all the way up to the date of the event. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that the uncertainty throws a monkey wrench on your plans and your schedule.
8. Discounts are unpredictable. Realize that ticket brokers may “test” the market. They do so by listing tickets upon the announcement of an event, even before they physically carry them. Basically, they are jumping the gun to get a feel for the market of a particular event. While this is unethical, it’s not illegal. So don’t be surprised to find ticket prices to be all over the map early on when the event is first advertised. There’s a tradeoff here: you may have to pay to make sure you get the seat assignment you want (that is, you may end up paying up to get a guaranteed spot, especially if you’re attending a popular or sold out show). The sites themselves will warn you that you may end up paying more than the face value of the tickets. So look for the online ticket broker’s guarantees or policies before you commit to a sale. Usually, you won’t be able to get a refund or exchange except under special situations.
9. There are many flavors of ticket fraud found in the event ticket industry and you’ll probably find it pretty obvious (and you’ll know) when you’re taking a risk with a ticket purchase. Still, you can take some extra steps to protect yourself: know what types of scams abound (e.g. fake tickets, wrong seat assignments, ridiculous prices, etc) and make sure that you have a reachable and legitimate customer service contact number at hand from your ticket source. Bring this number with you to the event, just in case. You never know if you’ll have last minute issues at the venue itself.
In light of these tips, I’d like to add that if you’re going to participate in the secondary market, it’s best to make use of a reputable ticket broker. Let’s take a look at a few such operations.
A Short List Of Online Ticket Brokers: From TicketsNow to StubHub
TicketsNow: If you missed an event when it was on sale with Ticketmaster, you can head over to its sister site, TicketsNow, which is one of the biggest online ticket brokers around. Here, sellers can list the tickets at the price they want. Buyers can go over the listings and find the tickets that suit their needs. Even better, these tickets are backed by a TicketsNow Unconditional Guarantee. You’ll get your money back if the authentic tickets you buy don’t arrive in time for you to attend the event. The sellers here offer tickets to concerts, theater performances and sports events.
Ticket Liquidator connects ticket sellers with buyers. In addition to tickets for concerts, sports and theater, you can look for tickets geared to NASCAR and Las Vegas shows. People who buy tickets here are charged an 18.5% service fee. There’s a 100% money back guarantee if an event is cancelled without being rescheduled. You may be eligible for a 125% money back guarantee under a few circumstances (e.g. if your tickets are delayed or don’t reach you on time).
TicketNetwork has been cited for its fast growth in the event ticket space. Their mission is to offer customers a wide selection of placements, including those that may be hard to find. You’ll get up to the minute/real time access to tickets through this hub, which also prides itself on better pricing than its competitors, as well as great customer service and safety features. As with other sites, it also promotes a money back guarantee.
Razorgator also offers a buyer’s guarantee. You can look for tickets to Cirque du Soleil, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the ever-popular college bowl games. They give you the ability to search for tickets in any city. They also provide a newsletter that may contain special offers.
TickCo is yet another source for sports, concert and theater tickets. It has city guides, an upcoming events section and a newsletter. Beyond regular ticket buyers, their clientele includes season ticket holders, travel agents and tour operators. The fact that they’re listed with the Better Business Bureau, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) may be reassuring.
StubHub: eBay bought this company back in 2007. You can look for tickets to local events, popular events or by venue. There’s a FanProtect Guarantee so you know your tickets are authentic and will arrive in time for you to attend your event. There are a few more extras as well: you can purchase StubHub gift certificates or access their mobile applications if you wish.
Ace Ticket: Based in Boston, Ace Ticket has partnered with various New England area franchises. They allow you to source NHL Hockey, NFL Football and other sports tickets. Plus, they have staff picks for concerts and theater presentations in case you need suggestions. And don’t forget their 200% money back guarantee.
These sites are just the tip of the iceberg. So even if you miss the tickets you want at the arena or box office, it may still be possible to find them at these ticket brokers and hubs. Remember, though, that buying anything online poses some risks; you should therefore take the time to go over the policies at the online ticket broker you select so you know how to handle problems if they arise.
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