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Pia bets on dynamic pricing with Yahoo partnership

Pia Corporation, the dominant player in the Japanese ticketing market, has revealed plans for a new company dedicated to rolling out dynamic pricing for concerts, sports and other live events.

Dynamic Plus – a joint venture between Pia, web giant Yahoo! Japan and leading sogo shosha (general trading company) Mitsui & Co. – will dynamically price “various tickets for concerts, sports, theme parks, events, etc.”, as well as for more traditionally surge pricing-friendly industries such as hospitality, delivery services and car parking.

An IQ investigation into dynamic pricing – in which prices are allowed to fluctuate based on market demand – in December 2016 discovered uncertainty around its potential applications in live music.

Barry Kahn, the CEO of Qcue, a leading developer of dynamic pricing software, said the practice is difficult in the US – where venues usually have exclusive agreements with ticketing providers – and expensive, so for that reason is more popular for long runs at a single venue. However, Andrew Parsons of Ticketmaster UK said he believes dynamic pricing is suitable for multi-venue tours, as opposed to just residency-style shows, explaining that the company can easily “manage it across multiple promoters and venues”.

Currently, Ticketmaster only dynamically prices tickets sold on its premium Platinum platform, although Parsons said he’d “love to think” there will be a time when the company’s GA tickets are sold in the same way.

“We will respond quickly to customer needs by automatically increasing and lowering prices”

At press time, it is unclear which tickets Pia – whose Ticket Pia platform is, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2017, Japan’s leading entertainment ticket agency, and which is soon to be a venue owner in its own right – is intending to dynamically price, but the company says it and its partners are upbeat on the potential of the new pricing strategy.

According to a news release sent to investors, Mitsui & Co. has been collaborating on a dynamic pricing pilot with a prominent Japanese baseball team since last year, and Pia has already conducted several “proof tests” and is “preparing for commercialisation”.

“We will respond quickly to customer needs by automatically increasing and lowering prices on the basis of our forecasting, and also contribute to the improvement of profits,” reads the letter.

“We aim to contribute to the healthy development of this industry.”

According to industry publication Live Entertainment White Paper 2017, the value of the Japanese live market as a whole decreased slightly in 2016 (the most recently available data), declining 2% on 2015 to ¥501.5bn (US$4.6bn), largely owing to a shortage of available large venues. However, even at 2016 levels, the market has doubled in value since 2001.


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