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Ticket Brokers, Ideas, and the Future of Tickets!?

I was surfing a few Facebook groups the other morning when I came across a post mocking the speakers that are currently confirmed to speak at the NATB’s Virtual Conference in July.

The gist of the post was that everyone that was announced as a speaker was an “enemy” of the secondary market.

On the best of the days, the secondary market has a large group of folks that have a persecution complex as if any private business should exist in a vacuum.

But this particular post brought to mind a few ideas that have been on my mind for a while and likely should be on other people’s minds as well.

First, the reality is that during the pandemic, we’ve seen more conversations about “how we can get back to normal” in tickets and the secondary market instead of whether getting back to normal in tickets is going to set us up for failure.

Over the last few years, the secondary market and the world of tickets had become very similar to some combination of a casino, a Ponzi scheme, and a used car lot.

This applies to the primary and the secondary markets, but for now, I want to look at the secondary market.

What this combination of factors means is that no matter if we had a pandemic or not, the business of the secondary market was going to have to change and innovate to keep up with consumer demands.

Why?

Because at some point the means of acquiring tickets with “codes”, using points and balance flipping to keep your cash in your business, and praying that a show became “hot” just wasn’t going to be sustainable.

In my mind, the biggest challenge here was that there was essentially no innovation around customer acquisition from the brokers themselves.

To put it another way, most brokers had waved the white flag and surrendered the customer relationship to the platforms and decided that they would take to SOS or Facebook or some private groups to complain about how the platforms were “screwing” them.

In business, you have one job, create and keep a customer. And, many brokers considered themselves customers of the platforms when in reality they were marks, commodities.

From my vantage point, getting back to that normal seems like a potentially dangerous situation.

Like all businesses, whatever comes next for the secondary market will have to rest on a foundation of innovation and adaptation.

Second, the thing that really made me chuckle was the idea that the secondary market has “enemies” or “friends” and that people are owed anything.

I don’t remember the date the BOTS act was signed by President Obama, but I was in Gary Adler’s office doing a webinar for the NATB on strategy and growing your business.

During the webinar, I brought up a point that I’ve been bringing up before and since in almost every conversation I have and that point is that, “if you want to be a partner of the primary market, you have to act like a partner and build relationships with executives and VPs.”

You should also have a relationship with your AEs, but they are likely only going to be with the team a year or two, so your relationships need to be deeper in the organization.

A few reasons I feel like this is important:

  1. If you know folks up and down the organization, especially up, it becomes much more difficult for the team to say, “get rid of the brokers…they are awful.” Because they know you, you are a person and not just an account number and profile on a screen.
  2. By establishing a relationship, you can partner with the team to help ensure that you both reach your goals. I’ve felt like this since I started selling tickets in the mid-2000s, but in many instances the target customer for the primary and secondary market are often there for different reasons…giving both people room to create and add value.

I bring these things up because it hits at the heart of the idea that anyone owes anyone anything.

I’m a regular at a hotel in Miami because either my wife or I are in Miami for business or with the family about once a month when the plague doesn’t have me stuck at home.

Let me share a little secret, when I go to the hotel, they treat me like a regular guest and someone they have a relationship with. When the hotel is sold out, you know who gets a room? Me.

The same concept applies when we are talking about tickets.

A random person rolls up and just buys certain tickets, calls up a rep at a team to buy all the “hot” games, or some other completely one-sided actions, why exactly do you think the person on the other end of the transaction is going to care one iota about you?

Spoiler: they ain’t going to care about you in any sense of the word unless it benefits them.

Again, the difference between being a partner or a commodity.

Finally, in looking at the NATB’s schedule, they’ve tried to bring voices from different areas of the industry to talk about what is coming next.

From what I understand talking with a bunch of folks, all of these folks are volunteering their time and their opinions.

The issue raised by some folks was that because all of these folks don’t always agree with everything everyone in the secondary market is offering up, don’t bend over backwards for every wayward opinion, or just approach their business in a manner that reflects the value that they want to bring to their customers, having their opinions voiced is wrong.

What is wrong is this: only listening to one set of opinions or ideas is wrong.

Why?

For any number of reasons including the idea that in most businesses there is more than one way to achieve success. In tickets, there is rarely any one correct answer to any question. Third, in most cases the world of tickets and entertainment needs even more diversity of opinions than it gets from the supporters and the dissenting voices.

In general, I’ve spent a lot of time taking walks and thinking over the last 12 weeks, trying to get a grip on what the future of the economy and businesses will look like.

When I look at the world of tickets and entertainment, I still see a lot of room to come to grips with reality and to turn collective attention towards positive solutions.

Right now is the time to rethink your business, focus on the value you want to deliver, identify the right customers for your business, and take action on creating a future that reflects the business you want to create and to help ensure that the world of tickets and entertainment doesn’t just survive, but thrives going forward into the future.

That’s what I’m doing.

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Comments 2

  1. Wake man Consulting:

    I always find it interesting when I read opinions of folks like yourself whom portend to comment on
    Ticket brokering. There are certainly experts in this field here in Los Angeles where a few have survived the
    StubHub inclusion into this market , masterminded by Meg Whitman while she was CEO of Ebay.

    Neophytes like yourself don’t get that it wasn’t for the California ticket brokers during the era of late 70’s and early 80’s None of these secondary markets would exist now. I know this may sound absurd but yes it’s a fact.

    Some of us are still around servicing our local and Corporate clients , but to make yourself out to be a expert is fraudulent.

    Next time you voice an opinion, ask a “real” expert in our culture.

  2. Pingback: Talking Tickets 3 July 2020--Brokers! Broadway! Business! And, More! | Wakeman Consulting Group

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