Our interactive seat maps integrated with Facebook

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past year on two big ongoing goals:

One, obsess about the fan experience. Continue to innovate around all aspects of attending live events.

Two, make buying tickets more social. We want to continue to make shopping through our sites the most social eCommerce experience on the web.

One of our big efforts has been the development and rollout of our interactive seat maps. We now have more than 9,000 events on our sites with this new technology and we’ve learned a lot talking directly to consumers about how it’s impacted their purchase experience. One thing jumped out early on: people were buying tickets they would not have otherwise purchased because they could select seats near where friends or family were already sitting. Which got us thinking, that must take a fair amount of coordination – how can we make it easier?

At the same time we’ve also been busy weaving Facebook connections into various points of the ticket buying process and have had a ton of usage and adoption. Seventy-five percent of our traffic on Ticketmaster.com uses Facebook and we’ve seen great results with fans sharing their likes, recommendations and the events they are attending with their Facebook friends.

The combination of all of this has led to our latest product launch: the ability for buyers and event attendees to now have the option to share their seat location with their Facebook friends or even the entire Facebook community (if they choose) directly on the interactive maps on Ticketmaster.com and Livenation.com.

We know the best products come from listening to your customers, and we have a lot more in the works, but we’re especially excited to bring you this one. Click the video to see how it works or better yet, if you’ve bought recently from one of our interactive maps, go back and tag your seats. And as always, let us know what you think.

An Open Letter to Fans and Partners on Ticket Reselling – Part 2

Last week, I wrote about why fans want and deserve a better ticket resale experience, and why our partners (artists, teams, venues, performing arts centers, etc.) should be part of that process as well. Today I’m going to show you how our clients can choose to create transparent, fan-friendly links between pages on Ticketmaster and pages on TicketsNow. This will provide fans more ticket options and in the process clients will participate in the revenue generated from the resulting ticket resale transactions. The concept is pretty simple: when a fan searches on Ticketmaster for tickets but there aren’t tickets available under those parameters, he or she gets a “no tickets found” page. Clients who choose to place our fan-friendly, fan-tested links to TicketsNow on these “no tickets found” pages will share in the revenue from transactions generated by these links. We will digitally authenticate tickets that are bought this way via our TicketFast ® product, and allow fans to print them at home, knowing they are legitimate and safe, providing the best experience possible for the fan as well as the venue.

As a result, fans will now have a safe and convenient place to see the full range of options and buy the ticket that is right for them. Brokers and fans, in turn, will have a safe and targeted place to resell tickets. And, our clients can, for the first time, participate in the revenue and the customer data from the resale marketplace so they can get to know everyone that is coming to the event.

What It Looks Like

To be clear, this is a time-tested and proven solution. In fact, we’ve been doing this in partnership with a number of clients for seve
ral years now. The NFL, the USTA and the WWE are a few examples of clients who have utilized this approach with great results and happy fans. The messaging on our resale websites was enhanced as we have been focused on building a consumer experience that is absolutely transparent and fan-friendly. The consumer experience looks like this (we’re using our sister company Live Nation for demonstration purposes)—

The fan receives this message that the tickets they are searching for are not found:

If the fan selects the TicketsNow option, a transfer message also appears:

Once arriving on the TicketsNow resale marketplace, a message welcomes the fan and reiterates that they are on a resale marketplace. As with all of our tools, clients, if they wish, can brand this resale marketplace to any brand of their choosing, as the NFL and USTA do today. Information clearly notes that ticket listings and prices are related to resale.

As you can see from the screen shots, our efforts to be totally transparent and provide the ticket purchaser with clarity about TicketsNow are truly unique amongst resale marketplaces. Some of our competitors currently have similar types of links between primary and resale marketplaces. In our case these links will only be integrated if our clients choose to participate, and when these links are deployed it will be in an authentic, safe and secure way for fans. Our goal is to lead changes in the resale ticket market by adopting practices that protect the fan, and provide them with a very secure environment in which to make their purchases.

Some will likely spin this initiative into a tale about how Ticketmaster is attempting to “control” the secondary market, an easy shot to take. The truth is that Ticketmaster doesn’t control tickets, our clients (venues, artists, teams, performing arts centers) do. We think they should be able to participate in the secondary market if they choose to do so, as the secondary market is built on their hard work.

We respect consumer choice as well as the choices of our clients, which is why we will only offer this solution in cases where our clients decide this is the best solution for their fans. We’re excited to announce this option and look forward to rolling it out for fans and clients in the coming months. Please help us get better and give us your input and feedback as we work to create the best live event experience in the world.

An Open Letter to Fans and Partners on Ticket Reselling

Ticket reselling websites have become a significant way for fans to purchase live event tickets. Today, we estimate that about 20% of the tickets that Ticketmaster sells on behalf of our clients are resold in the secondary market.

Ticket reselling is happening, and it is here to stay. When done right, ticket reselling is a legitimate distribution channel that meets the needs of real fans. If we ignore resale as an industry, it will continue to exist in an uncontrolled, unsanctioned world and the bad parts will only get worse.

The resale market exists because ticket pricing is not perfectly efficient; supply and demand change over time, and some fans wait until the last minute to make the decision as to whether or not they can go to an event. The local ticket brokerage model has been built on this, providing services for niche groups of customers who seek unique experiences at various price points that the market will bear at any given time. Usually, this is done in a way that is legal. However, it’s important to point out that, sadly, there are still operators doing things that are unfair and illegal—ticket scalpers who use automated programs just to buy up huge quantities of tickets only to resell to fans for a profit. We are actively fighting to stop this type of activity, because anyone who sells tickets has the right to ensure their tickets are distributed fairly.

Unfortunately, in too many instances, the way ticket resale works today isn’t great for the fan. Fans are often misled or duped by resellers who don’t operate with the fans’ best interests at heart. In fact, we’ve recently seen legislation introduced by the so-called fan freedom group that would actually make it easier for the unscrupulous scalpers to snatch up huge quantities of tickets. Further, there are pervasive marketing practices used in ticket reselling that we, and others, believe are dirty and only trick fans (http://1.usa.gov/kj1gau). The result is that a lot of venues, artists, teams and promoters have understandably been hesitant to get involved in the secondary market. Fans are therefore left to search for resale options on their own, usually in unsanctioned environments where they can’t be sure what they are really buying, and from whom.

And yet the data doesn’t lie, resale is sometimes the option of choice for some fans who only want to go to an event if they can sit in specific seats or for fans who decide to attend at the last minute. As a fan, we know you just want to know what all of your legitimate, authentic and safe options are to go to an event! Show me all the seats available (from best to worst), and show me how much they cost (from least expensive to most expensive). Then let me make the decision to buy the experience that is best for me.

These are some of the reasons why Ticketmaster elected to support the Fans First Coalition (www.standwithfans.org). We know fans just want resale to work the right way, without having it compromise their ability to get reasonably priced tickets to their favorite events. Not everyone likes buying or selling in the resale market, and not every venue or artist wants to participate- that’s okay. It’s all about choices – and if fans, venues and artists choose to get involved in resale, we believe it should be done fairly.

In 2008, Ticketmaster bought a ticket resale company called TicketsNow, recognizing that an increasing number of fans wanted to expand their live entertainment ticket choices through resale ticketing. Initially the companies proceeded to integrate primary and secondary in a way that, while well intentioned, was not up to the standards to which we hold ourselves today. We have learned from those mistakes. We stopped that integration until we felt we could re-invent it in a safe and fan-friendly way. Since then, we have spent two years working and thinking through the way to do resale the right way for our stakeholders; our clients and fans alike. TicketsNow has quietly emerged from that experience into what we believe to be the most fan-friendly and flexible ticket resale platform on the web. We have moved far ahead in our capabilities to present a fan-friendly resale option for both fans and our partners in ticketing. And just to clear up two common misconceptions: Ticketmaster does not move inventory that our clients have entrusted us to sell on the primary market into the resale market—and it is the individual ticket seller, not theTicketsNow.com website, that sets the resale ticket price you see in the TicketsNow marketplace.

As a leader in the live event space, we believe we have a responsibility to move the industry forward. For us, this means making everything in the resale process better for the fan. That means that while we want to help fans find the best, legitimate and authentic options for them to go to their favorite events, both for primary and resold tickets, we also have an obligation to make sure unscrupulous scalpers don’t cheat the system and take away your choices unfairly (for example, we continue to work to stop bots from taking away huge amounts of tickets and we create ways that make it harder for those types of schemes to cheat fans). And we also want to help our clients participate in the true value of the tickets they sell if they so desire. So in the next few days we will be announcing an option – a choice, not a requirement – for our clients to connect the primary and secondary ticket markets. Stay tuned.