Your time is nigh Ticketek. React or die

3rd May 2010 - By Lance Wiggs

Been to this site recently?
Not many have. Just 6500 visitors a day visit Autotrader a lot less than the over 140 000 per day average that visit Trade Me Motors. Autotrader lost because everything was just too hard and too expensive. Their business practices were inherently expensive and unfair to dealers and the process was painful to sellers and customers versus the ease of Trade Me. They were unable to adapt to the arrival of the internet and when Trade Me deigned to pay attention to the market they soon faded away. Ticketek is in the same situation. They sell 10 million tickets each year across in Australia and New Zealand and do so in a way that seems to make people hate them. I certainly resent ever having to give any money to Ticketek – they seem to go out of their way to make the buying
experience painful and expensive. You represent a band. Go ahead – get Ticketek to represent you. Start with the website. I can’t find a way. It seems Ticketek signs venues not acts but even as a venue I can’t find a way into that site. And there is plenty else wrong with that page even if you like a lot of blue. The logo refers to which is a gateway site – there is no real site at just some faded dreams. The links at the top of the homepage are over two lines and with two different designs. Moreover they link to MSN Bing and incredibly Autotrader. The buying process is disingenuous. First there is the note underneath ticket pricing that states “service fee may apply.” What it should say is “We should include our outrageous fees in the advertised price under NZ law but this little sticker says we don’t have to. Oh – and we’re kidding when we imply that fees may apply – fees always apply” The first fee is delivery fee which you have to pay as there is no online option: Because it costs $8 to print a ticket out and put it into a stamped envelope. Automatically. And it costs  $8000 to hire people and print tickets for the 1000 tickets that people pick up at the venue. Finally there are all the other fees. I declined to find out what they were because I had to register to continue – and was confronted with this screen of transaction death: Enough. Ticketek dominates the space because they have the contracts with the event holders sewn up. Their usability and values can be horrific but if their venues get the acts we want to see then we will suffer accordingly. But Autotrader used to have all of the motor vehicle dealers sewn up as well. Trade Me through Autobase had to approach every one of them – and slowly they moved away until the floodgates opened. They moved away because Autobase and Trade Me were easier to deal with cheaper and a lot more effective at selling cars. Enter EventFinder. They have been around for a bit and it’s a friendly experience to use their site as a buyer: They charge just $2 service fee for this Phoenix Foundation gig. However they still want me to register though the screen is not so intimidating. Well MightyApe actually tried this out after reading that article and saw sales rise by a significant percentage. (Dylan said I could not quote the actual percentage but it was a good one). If you’ve read this far and you have a register screen on your site before allowing customers to buy then why not A/B test this? Give it a go and do let me know down the track how it works out for you. I suggest the folks at EventFinder try it as well. The trick is to ask only for the details you need to deliver a ticket and to do that at the last possible moment of the transaction. Get my email address for sending the voucher my street address for the credit card authorisation and that’s it. When all is done you can whether I would like to add a password to save details for next time. Don’t call it registration though. You can separately ask whether I want to be spammed I mean added to your email lists. Anyway – the feel of EventFinder is a lot lot better than Ticketek but the real news is that they have made it dead easy for event providers to sell tickets. Introducing EventFinderPro which is at the url of for now. It feels right. It feels fair. It seems the sites are providing a better service to sellers lowering the costs of delivering that service and providing a massively better customer experience for buyers. (They syndicate the event listings through several other sites) They are aiming at the smaller sellers first but getting increasingly professional. Sound familiar? They charge sellers $1 per ticket sold. I have not reconciled that with the $2 that the customer is charged for the Phoenix tickets though. Will they still charge customers that fee? They are implying that Ticketek is taking money from sellers in a variety of ways and not all of them pleasant. Meanwhile EventFinder is front and center about their value proposition to sellers and are attacking Ticketek at the point of customer pain: On EventFinder free means free. I hate to think what comped tickets cost on Ticketek. EventfinderPro also seems to have lovely tracking charts for sellers and pay the next day. They also appear to be able to ramp up their product for bigger venues – with scanners and the like available. I’d use them if I had an event to sell. So Eventfinder seems cheaper faster simpler and a darn sight more fun to deal with than Ticketek. While Ticketek has the venue market now they have been treating buyers and sellers poorly and the tide of frustration is getting ready to break. If Eventfinder plays this right and Ticketek as I suspect are institutionally incapable of changing then it is just a matter of time. They can rect but that reaction will need to be to move to where EventFinder alredy is and they will see a loss of revenue as they do it. The alternative is to hang on to a business that slowly fades away. Ticketek has just 225 venues across Australia and New Zealand and it will get progressiviely easy to switch those venues over to EventFinder as time goes by. EventFinder will need a strong sales effort and patience to make this happen. EventFinder’s cost to serve venues is lower and they take less money from customers and venues and their website makes it easier to buy and sell tickets. If they win they will help reduce the real cost of tickets for customers put more dollars in the hands of venues and acts and fill the clubs and stadiums. And wouldn’t that be a good thing. At some stage the economic model of Ticketek will collapse they will thankfully disappear and we can all start going to concerts again.