Talking Tickets 24 July 2020–Viagogo! Marc Geiger! Football! More!

Hey There! 

Thanks for being here again this week.

Each week this newsletter continues to grow all because y’all are sharing it with your friends and colleagues. If you like what I do here tell your friends and colleagues to sign up by visiting this link.

Where has the year gone? I can see August from here. 

I do have a quick favor to ask of you this morning. Can you take about two minutes to share your thoughts with me so that I can plan the rest of the year for the podcast, newsletter, and any other content ideas I can come up with in a way that adds impact for you and your business? I appreciate it. 

Let me know how y’all are holding up during the pandemic and the recovery. Send me an email. Like I mentioned in the introduction to my podcast conversation with Pierre Etter, I’m trying to build a community here and on Slack for folks to be able to connect and recover together …so don’t be a stranger. 

Don’t forget Happy Hour tonight with me and Ken Troupe! Ken says he may be drinking Powerade…but I’m not buying it! 

To the tickets! 


1. Marc Geiger says that Lollapalooza won’t be back until 2022: 

I never really thought about whether or not folks like Bob Lefsetz or not until I saw former podcast guest, Lawrence Peryertweet out a link to this pod where he talked about “ignoring” Bob and having him disappear if you didn’t pay attention to him. 

That said, once I heard that I started to notice a certain clunkiness to the way Bob asks questions…which, I can’t say too much about because many of you have heard my podcast

There is a lot here to learn from Marc, but the main topic is that he says Lollapalooza isn’t going to come back until likely, 2022. 

I tend to agree due to talking to a bunch of doctors and scientists that I know in DC.

Their opinion on the science of the pandemic and the understanding of medicines and vaccines is that we aren’t likely to be able to pull everything together until March or April of 2021 without some sort of a major change in public actions, accelerating of a viable vaccine, and rapid manufacturing of a vaccine that might exceed what has been done previously. 

That’s not saying it won’t happen, but it is saying that the timeline on some events will get tight a lot earlier than we might imagine. 

This doesn’t even bring into mind some of the other ideas that Marc raises like no insurance being available and other things.

As with all of these things over the last few months, I’m going to keep an eye on what is happening in other countries and see how public health policies and actions alter the impact of the coronavirus on case numbers and deaths. 

A couple of things here: 

* Keep an eye on how other countries are dealing with their reopenings and their second waves, if they occur. We are already seeing some of the potential challenges in Australia where the border between New South Wales and Victoria had to be closed due to a second wave outbreak in Victoria. 

* Look for the bias or the missing information in any studies you see or read. I don’t know who said it, but something to the effect of there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. We have to be careful that we don’t just look for the surveys and ideas that give us the information that we want to see and we have to look for both sides of the argument so that we can make better guesses about what reality might look like. 

* Be willing to change your mind based on new information. That’s been the nature of this pandemic. As soon as you think you know something for certain, everything changes due to new information. 

2. Eric Chou sells out 4 shows in Taiwan:

Call me old, but I had never heard of Eric Chou before but the fact that he sold out 4 shows in Taiwan immediately seemed like a good thing to me. 

The other thing I liked in this piece was that the government of Taiwan had given out vouchers for 2 million tickets to help accelerate the return of events in Taiwan. 

I’ve noted that we are seeing strong efforts in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Germany among other countries to get their live entertainment businesses back online as quickly as feasible and to protect folks in those industries that have been hit very hard by the pandemic. 

So all of this is moving in a very hopeful direction. 

This story brings to mind a few ideas for me:

* When events come back in many countries, I think we are going to see something similar to what Taiwan is seeing become the norm. Big artists will lead the way and have no problem selling out, but there will probably need to be incentives or subsidies to help encourage other folks to get out and go to a show or event. 

* The conventional wisdom of people rushing back or not ever coming back without a vaccine is likely wrong on both sides. The reality is likely somewhere in the middle. 

Talking to people that go to a lot of events, they are talking like they are going to be a little more willing to go sooner rather than later.

Of course, we also have the other two extremes that will never go back or that will go back to prove that this is all a hoax. 

In talking with a few teams, corporate buyers, and friends, I’ve actually had more folks confide that the demand or desire to go back to an event immediately isn’t as high as they might have thought. 

To be fair, that was my assumption as well. But it is interesting to hear folks actually tell their sales reps or teams that they are going to be reluctant to come back immediately. 

Like a lot of things, I think the unsatisfactory answer is, it depends. 

3. Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn introduced a bill to give grants to live music venues:

This falls into the better late than never category, but it is also still a long way from actually being something that helps out live music venues in the US because it would have to be passed by the House and the Senate, then signed into law by the President. (That’s my Schoolhouse Rock lesson of the day!) 

This bill does do a good job of very specifically targeting the venues it would help even though as I read it, I had to wonder if my favorite venue in DC, the Anthem, would be included under the guidelines. 

If this gets across the line, this is great news for folks. A couple of readers of the newsletter sent me stats from their community that showed that in both places over 75+% of their local box office and venue staff had been fired or laid off due to the coronavirus. 

I don’t know if this will be fast enough to help any of those folks or others, but I sure hope so. 

4. College football keeps saying one thing, but…

Folks were dragging Kirk Herbstreit early in the pandemic for saying that college football was unlikely to happen. 


He doesn’t look so crazy, does he? 

I had a source tell me this week that college football really has two plans they are talking about but one that is the realistic one: 

Those plans are the 50%, the 25%, and zero. 

Right now, if I were betting, I’d say we are looking at the zero. As I shared last week, I’ve been hearing about college football moving to play in the spring since March. Like with the Lollapalooza story at the top of the page, things could change, but without a radical shift in the direction of infections and cases, it will be tough to move forward with college football. 

This week I got an email from a CEO of a team that said their refund policy was the morally right one if someone was struggling with their finances during the pandemic and lockdown. (They are giving folks that are in a position to have lost their businesses or thier income refunds in many cases.) And, I feel that this is ultimately where college sports is going to come down on, even if they end up kicking and screaming. 

No one will question my desire to see college football played. But protecting the kids should take precedent. 

In thinking through this, we are likely to see college ADs do a few things:

* Push their final payment for tickets as far back as possible. 

* Use 2021 donations as a way to try and get folks to pay for their football tickets or to use the football tickets as a way to keep the donations. 

* Create some sort of incentives so folks don’t ask for refunds. 

All of this is going to look like ADs talking from a point of strength when the truth is that donors and ticket buyers have all the control. 

If you do business with or in college athletics, now is a good time to make a deal because these athletic departments should be in the deal-making business. 

5. Viagogo still hasn’t completely merged with StubHub and the drama continues: 

This has been interesting to watch develop. 

This week the story breaks that Viagogo offered to sell the European components of the StubHub business as a way to clear the deal with the British authorities. 

This doesn’t actually pass the smell test because if the StubHub brand isn’t attached to all of the StubHub brands, I don’t really see a lot of value in the entity. Because the StubHub brand isn’t very strong in Europe on the whole and their market expertise isn’t as substantial as Viagogo’s or other ticket companies. 

I’m sure that legislators in the UK are watching stories of Viagogo and StubHub’s actions in markets around the world and that probably isn’t helping matters either since both companies have changed their refund policies during the pandemic in a manner that has caused customers to be furious and frustrated

Y’all know me, I’m far from anti the secondary market, but I’ve always been curious about the end game of some of Viagogo’s actions in thumbing their nose at the government, their customers, and good business practices.

I think what ultimately happens is that the CMA doesn’t allow the merger to happen and that throws the whole deal into flux.

What does this mean? 

Who knows? 

The brand of StubHub is tarnished with consumers and brokers in the States. (I talked about this on the NATB’s virtual conference which you can gain access to by donating to Caroline and Corey Gibb’s Ronald McDonald House fundraiser.) 

The Viagogo brand isn’t met with good cheer in a lot of countries that I visit.

So no matter what happens here, I think the first thing that is going to likely need to occur is a review of business practices and a decision on whether or not they are going to be the wild west of the secondary market or what. 

To cap off this week, I’ll share this tweet from Professor Mark Levit with his Yelp review of Ticketmaster based on his experiences during the pandemic to show that customers aren’t just mad at StubHub, their teams, or you because of refund and exchange policies…they are mad at anyone that doesn’t put the customer first. 


What am I up to this week? 

I’m regularly rolling out new podcasts now. Check out the one with Pierre Etter that I linked to above or check out this blog with the 5 episodes that have new value after the pandemic. 

Like I mentioned last week, I’ve been doing a lot more writing. So hit up my website, and find all kinds of stuff.  

Check out the We Will Recover website where I’m putting up some content like classes, blogs, and other stuff. And, visit my friends at Booking Protect to catch some new content coming on lessons learned from the pandemic, new best practices, and a great piece from Cat Spencer about giving your customers great customer service now. 

I’m in DC this week! Let me know if you want to chat or connect. I’m around! 

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