The secondary ticketing debate has understandably taken a backseat during the pandemic, but it isn’t going away any time soon. Here, Richard Davies, founder of face value or less ticket marketplace Twickets, brings us up to speed on the state of play…
Pre-pandemic, the campaign against online ticket touting had become headline news. Unrelenting industry pressure and political scrutiny had undoubtedly paid dividends, with secondary platforms shamed into overhauling the worst of their exploitative practices. And, perhaps most encouragingly of all, the primary industry has taken big steps towards embracing the concept of capped ticket resale.
The UK demonstrated a viable way forward: regulate the market, improve transparency and then fulfil consumer demand through fair resale. I’m not claiming things are perfect, but we’re in an infinitely better place than we were six years ago when Twickets first launched.
It’s certainly been gratifying to see the industry adopt the same capped model. Meanwhile, artists performing in the UK now have the power to take preventative actions to stop fans being ripped off, while offering the benefits of safe and secure resale. The move to mobile-only tickets should accelerate these changes. I’m really excited about it.
Goodbye “secondary ticketing”. Hello “ticket resale”.
The size and scope of this market should not be underestimated. At some point, all gig-goers will buy tickets for an event only for life to get in the way, forcing a change in plans. In the current climate a well executed resale policy is arguably more essential than ever.
“Unfortunately, we still see capped resale in some quarters being treated as something of an afterthought”
In 2019, Twickets attracted over three million unique users and ticketed more than 25,000 events. Over 60% of our transactions are made within the last week before a show takes place. Twickets’ users are typically looking for a last minute opportunity to attend a sold-out show or for a nearby event at an attractive price, helping fill venues and keep the customer happy.
The downtime from Covid-19 has also provided an important opportunity for Twickets to innovate further. For example, through our service we now actively promote last minute tickets available in a user’s immediate vicinity. In addition we allow buyers to make an offer on that inventory rather than seeing tickets go to waste. Both features help our users, and it’s already having a major impact. During Q4 the number of transactions on Twickets was 30% up on the same period in 2019, and we’re only at the start of a full return to live events.
This unique focus as a dedicated capped resale marketplace explains why we continue to be the most effective resale option out there for genuine fans.
Unfortunately, we still see capped resale in some quarters being treated as something of an afterthought. Either it’s communicated poorly, the terms are overly restrictive (it’s pretty essential to give fans an option to sell for less than they paid), or, in some cases, the function is turned off until a show is sold out. Locking consumers into a closed proprietary mobile platform with unreasonable terms is not a “resale solution”. Despite it only impacting 3-4% of total inventory, in some quarters there still appears to be a fear of resale cannibalising primary sales or undermining primary prices.
Frankly, we have to get over this obsession with control.
The fundamental purpose of a marketplace like Twickets is to offer the customer an improved service – to proactively help them sell a ticket quickly and efficiently, and to get someone else into the show. As a byproduct of that process, by keeping the distribution of tickets between genuine fans, we also diminish exploitative “secondary ticketing” and lay the foundations for repeat business. It’s ethically sound, and it’s commercially sound too.
I know there are many in the primary market who understand this, and have seen the benefits of partnering with us; and it was extremely heartening to see someone like Live Nation’s Michael Rapino advocate for more open systems of resale, that put the wishes of artists and customers first. We need to see these philosophies put into practice.
For the sake of all our future business, now is not the time to row back on resale. We need to function collaboratively, and provide a workable, flexible, scaleable, fit for purpose solution – ensuring it’s a permanent component of the UK’s live music landscape, reinforcing our gigs and festivals as the best – and best-attended – in the world.
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