Talking Tickets–3 April 2020: StubHub! Bailouts! Marketing! More!

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Welcome to April!

Let’s hope March really did go out like a lamb. Because that lion part was very apt, am I right?

How is everyone holding up? Let me know. You can just reply to this email.

If you want to join our Slack community, we are all figuring it out together but there are about 150 folks from around the globe in the channel, talking all areas of tickets.

I’m also co-hosting a Happy Hour this afternoon at 5 PM EDT with Ken Troupe. So swing by, have a drink, and a chat.

And, if you think someone would benefit from this newsletter, share it with them, or send them to this link to sign up.

To the tickets!


1. StubHub seems to be teetering on the edge: 

I’ve had a lot of conversations about StubHub this week.

I put together a couple of thoughts late on Tuesday night because I was trying to wrap my head around what the big issues are.

The two big ones that I keep coming back to are the fact that so many big businesses don’t have the cash reserves to last a week or two. And, in the case of StubHub, there didn’t seem to be the necessary guardrails or risk mitigation in place to deal with a situation where mass cancellations happened.

The other one is the fact that I believe when we are on the other side of this, there is going to be a fundament rethinking of the way tickets are sold and marketed. That’s the primary and the secondary, just to be clear.

This pandemic and financial crisis initiated by the pandemic are exposing that there is a lot more smoke and mirrors going on in entertainment than most people realized.

If you read the balance sheets and talked to folks widely, you had a feeling that something like this could happen.

As a friend of mine mentioned to me, “you’re always talking about what comes next anyway…” true.

But what does come next?

I’m talking to folks and trying to figure out where we do go from here. And, if I had action items that I would suggest:

1. Rethink your value proposition
2. Rethink who your customer is and who you want it to be
3. Rethink what your organization is doing to acquire and keep customers

Not sexy, just the basics.

Also, what does this mean for the merger with Viagogo?

2. Will things go back to “normal” when we are able to come out of physical distancing? 

I’ve had a lot of conversations the last 3 weeks about what will happen when events come back and a lot of people are just blindly offering up the opinion that there will be so much “pent up” demand for live events that things will be gangbusters.

I believe I mentioned a conversation I had a few weeks back with a friend at an NBA club that was pretty frank in the opinion that if we are being honest, in a lot of markets, attendance never really came back after 2008.

While I don’t look at DAZN as indicative of anything currently, I do think if they can successfully find a way out of their rights payments and some of their commitments, it opens the doors to others doing the same.

Variety shared some research that showed attendance is likely to take a hit in the aftermath of the pandemic. And, I’m pretty certain that some things will come back faster than others.

I don’t put too much stock in any research or any one opinion right now because no one can tell you with great certainty what is likely to happen on the other side of this.

I can tell you from experience that you should be rethinking your offerings, reimaging how you are going to deliver value to your customers, and how you will relaunch your business because restarting your business isn’t likely to be the right answer.

What are all of you thinking about relaunching your businesses? Rethinking things? 

3. Wait!? What?! Folks are talking about marketing as a key to success in the future?!:

Welcome aboard everyone!

My name is Dave and I’ve been holding this spot for all of y’all for many years now.

From where I’ve been sitting, marketing was something that needed to be improved for a while now.

Explaining the value of seeing the arts, attending sports, going to live events should be a slam dunk, but somewhere along the line we’ve gotten way too comfortable with the idea that the value should be inherent and that people should just no.

That was never true and it is one of the primary causes that we find teams trying to sell based on wins and waiting on a show to get great reviews to become “hot”.

My belief is that marketing is the most powerful tool we have in our business arsenal…and as a marketer, my job is to make sure people understand that and use marketing well.

Rant over!

4. Some leagues and teams may be in trouble or are grappling with what their sports will look like: 

This is a global challenge and no one has the answer fully figured out.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the Premier League, UEFA, the AFL, and other sports struggle with the decisions around continuing their seasons, playing games again, and managing their staff.

As with any downturn, some teams are in better positions than others.

While we wait for the isolation orders to end and for the worst of the virus to pass through, it will be interesting to see how teams and leagues managethis challenge.

The money we see in sports in the US and in parts of Europe isn’t the same so there isn’t a one-size-fits-most approach that is likely to be sufficient.

5. Does the live event industry deserve a bailout?

Tim Chambers brings an interesting take on the need to think about using government money to help create and promote events as a way to help instill confidence in the general population.

While Tim writes with the perspective of someone in Europe where the support and funding of culture in the arts takes a much higher priority than is often the case in the States, as we work towards the time when we are able to go back to our daily lives including entertainment, the idea of the government supporting events and experiences as a way to accelerate people’s renewed comfort with large groups.

I would caution that I think any program of the sort likely needs to come with clear expectations…I’m looking at you, Kennedy Center.

Though I do find it unlikely that the secondary market will get a bailout. Though I have to say, watching the machinations of getting one and doling that out might make for extremely entertaining watching.

But besides all of this, Richard Howle reminds us that we really have to do a better job of planning for challenging circumstances.

This is really important because while it is an inconvenience for us, the customer is the one that gets really hurt and is likely to not come rushing back to us when things turn around if we haven’t done right by them when things go wrong.


What am I up to this week?

I’ve been hosting a bunch of free webinars this week on rethinking ticket sales, adding value in tough times, and sales leadership. I’ve also figured out how to add those as audio-only versions for my podcast so look for those to start dropping this week as I get time.

2 more webinars next week:

Tuesday, April 7…I’ll cover brand building for sports and entertainment organizations with 7 key reasons folks need to focus on their brand. This came out of a question during the webinar on rethinking the way that you sell tickets and I thought it deserved a full fleshing out since branding is often not completely understood for being a driver as a protector of pricing, awareness, and demand generation.

Thursday, April 9…Managing Stress: Ideas For Staying Healthy Today with my friend, Andy Romero-Birkbeck. We will cover ways that you can manage stress and keep your head on straight today, but also in the future.

I’ve got a new ebook I’m working on about what comes next in ticketing…I’m working with Booking Protect to create another ebook this time with ideas about what the new opportunities in tickets and entertainment will look like. If you have specific folks or people you’d be interested in hearing from, let me know and I will see if we can work them into the piece. 

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