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Cameron – v- Ticket Touts

October 26, 2016

With the announcement that “Hamilton” will open in London in late 2017, Cameron Mackintosh, the show’s host as owner of the Victoria Palace Theatre also said that he is trying to make certain that everybody pays the price on the ticket, and no more. He pledges to stop “secondary ticketing” sites snapping up the seats and selling them for “New York” prices.

I’ve only been blogging on all these topics for years, so what’s new? Can it be that finally producers have realised that online touting is such a menace that it is dragging the reputation of an entire industry down? Or… is it that by controlling the flow of tickets, with a handy “dynamic pricing” tool, the producers can still charge a pile of cash… and keep the lot themselves?

That way carries far less risk. Touts lose money on what they can’t sell. Producers only lose if the seat isn’t sold at all. They still lose if they have to sell too cheap – below cost price – but it’s a lesser amount, and they have the advantage of being able to sell at the theatre right up to the moment the show begins.

Consumers will win, in that the tickets will be genuine and if there is a problem, the theatre will be able to track it down and solve it. Also, and more obviously, if the touts can’t get the tickets in the first place, we all have a greater choice of the good ones.

Actually regulating ticket flow comes down to two things. First, making sure the buyers are genuine and second, giving those genuine people a means to return tickets if they can’t use them.

The “secondary re-selling” websites survive at least in part due to unwanted non-refundable seats being sold on. Mostly, though, it’s professional sellers (and the site owners doing deals with venues), but still, it is a means for the public to recoup a loss they can’t make up in any other way.

Verifying genuine fans isn’t that hard. A database of previous transactions show who are the regulars, for a start. Requiring pre-registration of payment cards to be used may help, again weeding out multiple users. Doing the whole thing by post, and mailing in a photo to be printed on the ticket is my favourite, but it doesn’t draw headlines.

Whichever is chosen, it is at least a step in the right direction, and good luck to those getting tickets too. I for one am looking forward to it.

  1. Sue Gornall permalink
    October 26, 2016 10:34 am

    It works if the theatres and venues are viligent and do check ID and credit card checks. I’ve been to two fairly recent shows. Adele in Birmingham, no checks at all, despite resale prices being sky high. People panicking because they’d left their ID at home, turning back and nearly missing the show. Noel Gallagher in September at Brixton Academy did do the ID/CC checks and it felt reassuring that the system was working. Despite that there were still touts around selling tickets nearby. I’ve no idea if people managed to by pass the systems without the right ID or CC checks. At least it weeded out the worst.

    • Steve Rich permalink*
      October 26, 2016 11:00 am

      Thanks Sue, that’s really interesting. The door doesn’t seem to be so much of an issue – as you say, they can check, and it works at the Potter play.

      The big problem is your second point that touts had tickets to sell. It’s stopping that which they hope to do, which will in turn make on the day entry easier.

      Totally agree that weeding out the worst is a pretty good achievement, considering how bad it gets.

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