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Getting That Red Hot Ticket: Advanced Level.

November 7, 2018

With “Spice Girl” concert madness likely to strike on Saturday morning, and for those who read the most-ever read entry on this blog about buying “Hamilton” Tickets back in January 2017, this is a sequel, based on a very recent experience trying to get tickets for a concert at a well known London venue.

With spectacular bad luck, “priority booking” opened on a day and time I (for once) wasn’t able to access a computer. Some 8 hours later, when I could, I found nothing left in the front section, and a couple of tolerable single seats behind that, with some stuff in the upstairs section as well. Would there be better on public booking day? Should I chance being fairly happy against ecstatic? Hmm….

At that point, “Advanced Ticket Ninja Monkey” kicked in. “Public Booking” opened 48 hours later, and it was time to prepare by weighing up the variables.

The best seats were unavailable.

Single seats were left. These sell slowly, if at all, once the initial rush is over.

Several ticket agencies in addition to the main venue promised to put tickets on sale to the public at the same time 48 hours later.

Had all the best seats gone, and were any “held back” for public booking?

Would there be a second date added (irrelevant this time, as I couldn’t make any other)?

Did ticket agencies have their own allocation of tickets, or were they simply going to offer the same as the venue?


Aside from checking occasionally the “priority booking” link in case anything else showed up, and to see if the single seats were left (yes), the big thing was to visit the major legitimate STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailer) companies and find out who else would put tickets up on the day.

Agents divide into two types: Those who provide the venue with the software to run their box office, or have a business partnership; and more general agents who are allocated a block of tickets to sell or are allowed to sell via the venue’s website but at the price the agent chooses.

To distinguish, have a look at another show, or indeed the name of the venue on that venue’s official website. You’ll see a ticket agency logo or name of a booking company somewhere. Something like “Eventim Apollo” says that Eventim are the ticket company providing the official software. “Powered by Ticketmaster” is another giveaway. Just comparing the style of an agency’s website – page layout and how the seat buying page looks – with that being used by the venue’s website also always shows the direct link.

Find an event with tickets available, and get to the “choose a ticket” screen. Now, do the same with other trusted ticket agencies. You may find, once past the agency’s own website screens that you very obviously end up on the same website as the original venue. If the agency have cleverly incorporated the venue technology into their own page design, though, dig a little deeper.

Look at the “address bar” in your browser, and compare the web address. If you see reference numbers for that performance date that match both on the official website AND that of the agency – you know they are “fishing in the same pool” and won’t have a different choice of seats available. Same chocolate, different wrapper, basically.

In my case, Eventim and AXS matched, so I knew not to bother trying more than one of those. Ticketmaster and See, however, only gave a countdown to booking opening, with no means of finding out more until the day.

Note it’s also a good time to check your browser is compatible with the booking system of each agency, by selecting a ticket and making sure you can get as far as the checkout, just saying. Good practice for the day, too, familiarising yourself with how the systems work.


About 15 minutes before booking opened, time to get those tanks into position. Opening windows to the venue’s website and those of likely agents.

Oh, and a quick reminder tip for “Spice Girls” fans using Ticketmaster – the Ticketmaster system doesn’t like multiple windows open in the same browser. Use different browsers (IE, Chrome and Firefox, for example) rather than multiple windows in one. And more than one machine, too, raises your chances.

Now, here was the interesting part: more data became available. The display at See Tickets indicated that only tickets in the lower price bracket were going to be available. Instantly, that told me See were selling from the same pool of tickets as everybody else. I didn’t waste my time, and closed that one.

Ticketmaster were still cagey. I let them be as the clock ticked to 5 minutes to booking opening. In the back of my mind, though, was that the pool could well be shared here too. On the other hand, Ticketmaster sometimes do “hospitality packages” with amazing front seats – if the price were reasonable…

On the venue’s own website, with 5 minutes to go, I waited. BUT in another window I used my “priority tickets” link to just see what was going on. I found the same situation as the past 48 hours. This time, I put the remaining single ticket into my basket, and took it to a point where I had 15 minutes to accept it or release for someone else. A slight chance I.T. could crash under the strain, but a calculated risk, I felt.

Clock strikes. Ticketmaster booking opens… turns out they had the same pool after all, and no package deals either.

Back on to the page holding my ticket, checked out, job done. So I’m a few rows further back than I’d really like, but I’m seeing the show, and I’m happy.

So, there you have it. It’s not just about getting a place in line on the day – as the previous blog has it. It’s also about managing your expectation by finding out exactly what tickets are likely to be left, and who may be selling them. Do all that, and remember the magic period you may be given (not all companies do) to compete the transaction, and you are again a few paces ahead in the race.

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