UK report reveals Covid’s impact on ticketing
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has published a report outlining the impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s ticketing industry.
Independent ticketing expert Will Quekett was commissioned to interview 39 stakeholders from across the ticketing and events industry between January to March 2022, including venues, event organisers and ticket agents, as well as the banking and finance sector.
According to the study, ticketing businesses reported an average drop in turnover of up to 85% in 2020 and 58% in 2021, while the sale of ticket protection products rocketed as customers sought to protect their risk. Ticket Protection companies reported a 300% increase in conversion at the peak of the pandemic, which has since stabilised at 200% of the pre-pandemic conversion rate.
“As the pandemic hit, overnight the ticketing industry went into crisis mode as it sought to support venues, event organisers and millions of ticket buyers,” says STAR CEO Jonathan Brown. “It was a truly remarkable effort that the whole industry should be proud of. However, there are always lessons to be learned as to how we can do things better and we hope that this report has been helpful in revealing the starting points for cross-industry discussions about improvements that can be made in the future.”
The report commended ticketing staff for their commitment through the pandemic, but found noted that employers have faced difficulties recruiting new staff when building back. Disputes through STAR – the self-regulatory body for live events ticketing in the UK – also rose from 2019 levels by 39% in 2020 and 73% in 2021.
“It is clear that there is room for improvement and clarity about how the ticketing and events industry operates”
The report includes recommendations for consideration by stakeholders across the live events industries, including greater consistency of ticketing policies, including the refunding of booking and transaction fees for cancelled events; and the development of improved customer service for ticket buyers through the introduction of technologies such as online self-service and chatbots to deal with FAQs.
It also calls for STAR to consider extending its Code of Practice to include standards of service and information for ticket protection, and to take on a more proactive role in relation to common industry practice.
“It was heartening to hear the praise for hard-working ticketing staff across the country,” says Quekett, the report’s author. “However, it is clear that there is room for improvement and clarity about how the ticketing and events industry operates to ensure that the public can continue to buy tickets with confidence.”
Interviewees were encouraged to be as open and honest as possible about their experiences, and were invited to give their views on what lessons could be learned for the future.
“STAR has always been at the forefront of cross-industry initiatives to improve consumer confidence in the ticketing industry,” adds STAR chair Andrew Sharp. “This report highlights how the customer-first approach adopted by our members helped them avoid many of the consumer issues and controversies that other sectors faced during the pandemic. STAR will use this report to lead the conversation within the live events industry to ensure that this work continues.”
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STAR urges “patience” as ticketers handle Covid-19 refunds
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers has asked ticketholders to be “patient and kind” as ticket agencies process refunds and exchanges following sweeping event cancellations across the UK.
As the UK government advises the public to avoid gatherings of any size, events are being rescheduled or called off around the country as iconic venues including the O2 Arena, the Royal Albert Hall and Alexandra Palace close their doors until further notice.
UK ticketing industry body STAR is urging customers to avoid “flooding contact centres with calls and emails” and rather wait for ticketsellers to contact them regarding ticket exchanges or refunds.
“Rest assured, our members are working as hard as they can to resolve your issues,” saysd STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown. “They are very busy also dealing with their own measures to care for their staff and run their businesses.
“Please be patient and kind as box offices, ticket agents and other ticket sellers are committed to helping you during this extremely difficult period”
“Please be patient and kind as box offices, ticket agents and other ticketsellers are committed to helping you during this extremely difficult period.”
The Dutch culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (pictured) issued similar advice yesterday (18 March), calling on customers not to request refunds and encouraging them to accept alternative compensation offers, such as vouchers.
“We as a society can only overcome a crisis like this if we also show some solidarity and look after each other,” the minister told Dutch newspaper NRC. “If everyone is going to ask for their tickets back at the same time, that is asking a little too much of the sector.”
The option for ticket sellers to offer customers a voucher instead of a cash refund has been put forward by industry associations including Germany’s BDKV and Spain’s Esmúsica. BDKV has also asked for an extension to the time within which a refund must be paid, along with UK Music and the Colisium International Music Forum, which represents promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Photo: Frank Jansen/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)
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“A huge concern”: Live industry reacts to StubHub buy
Controversial secondary ticketing site Viagogo yesterday (25 November) acquired StubHub from eBay in a US$4.05 billion all-cash deal, returning both companies to founder Eric Baker’s hands and eliciting strong reactions across the live music industry.
The sale to Viagogo – a consequence of pressure from eBay shareholders for the company to divest itself of StubHub – followed reported interest from multiple parties, including US resale marketplace Vivid Seats, and saw the e-commerce giant receive almost 13 times its original investment.
As IQ speaks to ticketing experts and commentators, a question on the lips of many is: “Just how did Baker raise the funds for the all-cash deal?”
More technical concerns include what the deal means for the future of the secondary ticketing market; how it may be used to “detoxify” Viagogo’s brand – or not; how regulators will react to the deal; and how much more likely are consumers to get ripped off.
Adam Webb, campaign manager, FanFair Alliance
“This feels like a desperate move from both parties.
“However, news of this acquisition should be a major concern for both audiences and music businesses – especially if Viagogo, a company that recently had a court order hanging over its head and is still the subject of a CMA investigation, uses this process as an attempt to detoxify its brand.
“FanFair will be writing to UK regulators and politicians and we reiterate our advice to music fans to avoid these sites.”
Katie O’Leary, campaign lead, Feat (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing)
“It’s alarming to think of Viagogo potentially gaining an even greater stronghold in the secondary ticketing market, given it’s been the subject of various legal actions across Europe and banned from advertising on Google globally. (Google last lifted Viagogo’s ban on advertising. For more information, click here.)
“Viagogo claims this will create a ‘win-win for fans’, but further consolidation in the secondary ticketing market would most likely restrict competition, and further negatively impact fans.
“We hope that regulators will have consumers’ best interests at heart when considering this deal, and consider not only the question of Viagogo’s increased dominance but also whether they can be considered a fit and proper owner.”
“We hope that regulators will have consumers’ best interests at heart, and consider whether Viagogo can be considered a fit and proper owner”
Anton Lockwood, director of live, DHP Family
“Coupled with the disturbing news that Google is allowing Viagogo to advertise again, we see this as a step backwards in the fight against inflated price secondary ticketing, Viagogo’s brand has become toxic in the last few years and this seems like an attempt to cleanse it.
“At DHP we stand strongly against unscrupulous traders selling tickets at inflated prices, at the expense of genuine fans – this acquisition can only serve to further that, and we urge the regulators to look very closely at what the new company does.
“We always advise buying tickets from primary vendors or face value secondary vendors who are members of Star to obtain genuine tickets, at the correct price with consumer protection in place.”
Neo Sala, founder and CEO, Doctor Music Concerts
“Viagogo may hope that their reputation will be greenwashed through association with Stubhub, who have historically kept more in line with regulation — but both have a long history of ripping off fans.
“I have no doubt that if this gets cleared it will be bad news for fans, as well as those of us who invest in the live sector. Coupled with the news from Google, it’s really concerning to see things take such a backwards step.”
“At DHP we stand strongly against unscrupulous traders selling tickets at inflated prices, at the expense of genuine fans”
Claudio Trotta, founder, Barley Arts
“In my more than 40 years in the business, this is one of the worst pieces of news I have received.
“It is really scary – first of all, the fact that Viagogo can spend $4 billion in cash is very worrying. Secondly, that Viagogo has bought a competitor that operates in most countries in the world means we are really far away from winning the battle against this cancer – and I do truly believe it is a cancer. I am sure they have made this deal because they absolutely know they can carry on doing secondary ticketing in the majority of countries in the world and circumvent the laws that are in place.
“This is very bad for the future of industry – for music, for punters, and for overall quality. Music is in danger of becoming only for rich people and for fanatics – the only people capable of paying inflated secondary prices.
“We need to do something against this, otherwise live music will be dead in the way we know it. With these prices, there would be no new acts either, which means no more future.
“In Italy, there is a law against secondary ticketing, and also a law on nominative tickets. I am the only one of the major Italian promoters in favour of this law. I think the future is to have complete digitalisation of tickets, and for each to have a unique code. This is the only way to fight secondary ticketing.”
“In my more than 40 years in the business, this is one of the worst pieces of news I have received”
Dave Newton, ticketing professional
“In North America the deal will make no noticeable change as StubHub already dominates the resale market along with having an appreciable share of the primary market (especially in the sports sector) and Viagogo has no presence there.
“But in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, we may see the increasingly toxic Viagogo brand put out to pasture as its market share is folded into the now-established StubHub brand in each of these territories.
“There is a scenario whereby the Viagogo brand is kept alive for a while as a way of deflecting anti-tout activity and attention from StubHub which has been generally been regarded as ‘the best of a bad bunch’ over the last five years. Viagogo could soak up the emotional ire of the media, customers and the events industry while StubHub quietly holds onto its more collaborative and conciliatory reputation.
“Could we see primary ticketing agencies launching resale platforms in Europe if StubHub succeeds in becoming the acceptable face for touting? There may also now be room for significantly-funded new entrants into the space.
“And where does this leave the ticket-buying fan? No less ripped-off, that’s for sure.”
“We may see the increasingly toxic Viagogo brand put out to pasture as its market share is folded into the now-established Stubhub brand”
Annabella Coldrick, CEO, MMF (Music Managers’ Forum)
“On the back of the FanFair Alliance campaign, we’ve seen huge steps to reform the UK’s secondary ticketing market and put a stop to the rip-off, anti-fan practices of sites like Viagogo. For that reason, the announcement is a huge concern.
“The consolidation of the biggest remaining platforms for ticket touts could potentially reverse progress and cause untold harm for audiences and artists alike.”
Rob Wilmshurst, CEO, See Tickets
“I had to check my calendar to make sure it was not April Fools’ Day. I am very, very surprised, not just at the scale of the deal but at where the cash might have come from.
“I am no fan of ticket touting so I can’t say it made my day but it is what it is. In any case, I congratulate Eric for pulling it off.”
Richard Davies, CEO, Twickets
“This is further terrible news for ticketing as two deceitful operators combine forces in order to further turn the screw on the consumer. It demonstrates the need more than ever for a specialist face value resale service that properly serves genuine fans.”
“The consolidation of the biggest remaining platforms for ticket touts could cause untold harm for audiences and artists alike”
Maarten Bloemers, CEO, Guts Tickets
“In five years I expect this to be deemed a total waste of money. It’s a joining of forces of two eerily similar entities companies, the main similarity being that they do not care in the slightest about the consumer they are supposedly serving.
“Technological innovation is making these businesses obsolete, and will put the priority back with the consumer, where it belongs.
Jonathan Brown, chief executive, Star (The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers)
“We note with interest the news that Viagogo has bought StubHub and will continue to watch developments closely.
“Customers need to know where they can buy tickets reliably from authorised sources and the best way of doing this is to always buy from Star members who have signed up to our code of practice and approved dispute resolution service.”
Adam French, consumer rights expert, Which?
“Viagogo has a long history of ripping off music and sports fans and had to be threatened with court action after failing to provide vital information to customers, so any move to increase its grip on the secondary ticketing sector is likely to be a worry for consumers.
“The regulator should closely examine this deal and the impact it could have on competition in the sector to ensure consumers do not lose out.”
This article will be updated with more reactions as IQ receives them.
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FanFair Alliance launches guide to tackle touting
FanFair Alliance, the music industry campaign established in 2016 to tackle “industrial-scale online ticket touting”, has today (Tuesday 17 September) published new guidance to help artists and managers to tackle secondary ticketing.
The guidance, which was developed alongside new model terms and conditions published by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and is backed by the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF), can be downloaded here.
The guide advocates that artists, event organisers and venues make two clear and upfront statements in their terms and conditions of sale – that tickets are for consumers only to purchase, and that audiences are permitted to resell tickets for the price they paid or less, and that a consumer-friendly resale or reallocation mechanism is provided.
The alliance hopes that the cost-free measures will empower artists and organisers to employ a wider range of acts to prevent exploitation of fans, while promoting fairer ticket resale practices.
The publication follows major developments in the fight against the UK’s secondary ticketing market, including the provision of detailed information about the tickets listed on secondary sites – in keeping with consumer protection law – an end to misleading marketing practices such as “drip pricing” and the suspension of infamous secondary site Viagogo from Google search advertising.
The introduction of “consumer friendly” resale services, including AXS Official Resale, Ticketmaster’s Ticket Exchange, See Ticket’s Fan-to-Fan and CTS Eventim’s FanSALE, has also given fans alternative resale options.
According to STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown, the use of such authorised resale systems “helps to combat unwanted excesses in the secondary ticket market.”
“As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that [artists] will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market”
Despite developments, YouGov data, viewed by FanFair Alliance, suggests online ticket touting remains a concern for live music fans, with 79% of concertgoers surveyed in April 2019 stating that “too many tickets end up on reselling sites for inflated prices” and 67% affirming that artists “should do more” to prevent this practice.
A recent decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to halt legal actions against Viagogo prompted further concerns from anti-tout groups and live industry professionals.
“The message from audiences remains pretty clear and consistent,” says FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb, who recently aired his thoughts on the continued need for action against Viagogo in IQ. “They’re still sick of exploitative online ticket touts, and they expect artists, event organisers and venues to do something about it.
“And here’s the good news: they can. The UK is now leading the way in the fightback against unscrupulous secondary ticketing practices. Artists have been empowered to take action.
“There’s a number of strategies they can pursue, but the no-cost recommendations in this guidance are open to all. As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that they will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market.”
MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick agrees, stating that “artists and their teams now have real power to take back control of their ticket prices by using simple T&Cs and offering consumer-friendly resale to fans,” urging “all managers to read this guide and use it.”
The full guide can be read online for free here.
First hire for new UK ticketing apprenticeship
NEC Group’s the Ticket Factory (TTF) has become the first employer to participate in an industry first ticketing apprenticeship, jointly developed by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and National College Creative Industries.
The one- or two-year course – first mooted in July 2016 – teaches apprentices to “provide a high-quality service to customers within the ticketing industry”, including skills relating to customer service and working to industry regulations.
TTF’s first hire under the scheme is 21-year-old Melissa Halling, who upon completing a one-year apprenticeship will be the first-ever recipient of the snappily named ‘apprenticeship standard in customer service practitioner – ticketing’.
Richard Howle, director of ticketing for the Ticket Factory, comments: “We are proud to support STAR and the National College Creative Industries with this initiative in welcoming the UK’s first ticketing apprentice to the team.
“We hope that this apprenticeship will open doors for many young, talented individuals”
“We operate in a rapidly changing world, where customers demand the best, and our team is passionate about driving new ideas and being at the cutting edge of innovation. Ticketing is a brilliant industry which requires a broad range of skills and expertise and is full of opportunities.
“We are delighted to welcome Melissa, whose enthusiasm and desire to learn is infectious, and we hope that this will be the start of a long and successful career in ticketing.”
“Our focus was to create a new apprenticeship that would lead to a valuable industry qualification, plus one that would add real value to the employer,” adds STAR chief exec Jonathan Brown. “Centred on real work competencies demonstrated in a real work environment, the aim is to drive quality and consistency through both on-the-job and off-the-job training.
“We hope that this apprenticeship will open doors for many young, talented individuals and support them in forging an exciting career in this fast-paced and creative industry.”
UK MPs urge Google action on Viagogo
The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, along with campaign group FanFair Alliance and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), has written to Google urging the web giant to stop taking advertising from what they describe as “one of the world’s least-trusted” brands, Viagogo.
In the letter, addressed to Google’s president of EMEA business and operations, Matt Brittin, and managing director in the UK and Ireland, Ronan Harris, the signatories highlight how, despite 2018 having seen “major progress in tackling online ticket touting” – and Google having “played an important part in his change” with its new certification system for ticket resellers – Viagogo still tops Google’s search listings for many high-profile shows.
The controversial secondary ticketing site is currently the subject of legal action by the Competition and Markets Authority for alleged breaches of consumer law, and last week once again snubbed a UK parliamentary inquiry at the 11th hour, leaving StubHub’s Wayne Grierson as the sole representative from the resale sector.
“We urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence”
With Viagogo believed to operating illegally in the UK, the letter suggests accepting advertising from Viagogo breaches Google’s own AdWords guidelines, which “state clearly that advertisers are expected ‘to comply with the local laws for any area that their ads target’”.
Speaking to IQ in June, a Google rep said the company does not comment on specific advertisers, but that it is committed to working with the music industry to protect consumers.
The letter is reproduced in full below:
Matt Brittin, President of EMEA Business & Operations
Ronan Harris, Managing Director UK and Ireland
1-13 St Giles High St,
Friday 7th September 2018
Dear Matt and Ronan,
This year has seen major progress in tackling online ticket touting.
Google has played an important part in this change. In February 2018, Google launched a new certification system for ticket resellers, with the aim of providing clearer information for consumers. However, Viagogo’s use of Google paid-for search to achieve prominence to consumers continues to concern all signatories to this letter, now more than ever.
On Friday August 31st, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) issued court proceedings against Viagogo for potential breaches of consumer protection law.
Last Wednesday (September 5th), Viagogo failed for the second time to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in an evidence session on secondary ticketing. The Committee’s Chair, Damian Collins MP, described this as a “pattern of evasion, disrespectful to the House and disrespectful to consumers.”
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, the truth will do you no harm,” he added. “If you want to be safe, do not buy tickets from Viagogo.”
Repeated research by FanFair Alliance has highlighted how Viagogo systematically tops Google results for tickets, even when primary inventory is still widely available or, most worryingly, when the tickets listed will be invalid for entry at the event.
This results in confusion, and risks your users clicking through to Viagogo unaware they are being transferred to a ticket reseller.
Working with the campaign group Victim of Viagogo, FanFair has helped many individuals who believe they were mis-sold tickets to claim back hundreds of thousands of pounds. The vast majority of these customers tell us they were led to Viagogo through Google search and unaware they were buying a resold ticket.
It is an untenable situation.
In effect, one of the world’s most trusted brands – Google – is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted.
Viagogo’s search advertising is also, we believe, breaking Google’s own AdWords guidelines. These state clearly that advertisers are expected “to comply with the local laws for any area that their ads target” and that Google will “generally err on the side of caution in applying this policy because we don’t want to allow content of questionable legality.”
We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising.
However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo’s ability to pay for prominence.
We look forward to working with you to achieve these goals,
Sharon Hodgson MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse
Adam Webb, Campaign Manager, FanFair Alliance
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive, Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers (STAR)
Nigel Adams MP
Pete Wishart MP
Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE
Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, Music Managers Forum
Claire Turnham, Founder, Victim of Viagogo
Lucie Caswell, Chief Executive, Featured Artists Coalition
Martin Ingham, Chair, National Arenas Association
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive, UK Music
Neil Tomlinson, President, The Entertainment Agents’ Association
Paul Reed, Association of Independent Festivals
Phil Bowdery, Chair, Concert Promoters Association
Star (full member list at star.org.uk/all-members)
Julian Bird, CEO, Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre
David Allfrey, Chief Executive & Producer, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edward Snape, Chair, League of Independent Producers
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)
Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA)
Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC)
Rugby Football Union (RFU)
The Football Association (FA)
STAR appoints Richard Brundle as new chairman
The Society of Ticketing Agents and Retailers (STAR) has announced the appointment of Richard Brundle as its new chairman. The decision, voted for at STAR’s most recent AGM, was a unanimous agreement among members.
This new role will not be the first time Brundle has worked with the ticketing organisation. As managing director of ticketing agency Edwards and Edwards, Brundle was part of the team that established STAR in the mid 1990s. He went on to serve as a council member from 1997 to 2001.
Outside of his previous work with the industry body, Brundle has focused his work on the theatre, entertainment and hospitality industries. Through his consultancy business, RCNA Partnership, he has had opportunity to support clients including the Society of London Theatres (SOLT).
“We need to bring together as many parties as possible to make tickets available to all, including those with access issues.”
At the AGM that saw him elected, Brundle addressed STAR members. He put forward his immediate aim to meet the demands of event goers with disabilities and different access requirements. By working towards the challenges set out in Attitude is Everything‘s recent State of Access report, he hopes STAR may lead the way. He says: “We need to bring together as many parties as possible to make tickets available to all, including those with access issues.
“Great strides have started on that and one of my goals is bring an industry wide standard in this area.”
Beyond this, Brundle spoke of wanting to unify the ticketing industry, saying the organisation, “needs to unify where it can, lead the ticketing charter, and to make a difference in how people choose to buy their tickets.
“STAR’s role must be to help to ensure that the public are well informed and clear before they purchase a ticket. ”
Cautious welcome for new Google resale restrictions
Google has pledged to provide consumers with a ticket-buying “experience they can trust”, as the first of its new restrictions on accepting advertising from secondary ticketing sites come into force.
The new measures, announced last November, see the search engine giant include ticket resellers in its ‘other restricted businesses’ AdWords category, requiring them to be certified before they can advertise through its AdWords platform.
To apply for certification, resellers must agree to inform customers that their prices may be higher than face value; break down prices to show included fees and taxes during checkout, and before the customer provides payment information; and refrain from implying they are the “primary or original provider of event tickets”.
As of March 2018, secondaries must also list the face value of the tickets, along with the reseller’s price in the same currency.
The crackdown comes on the back of UK politicians accusing sites such as Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! of violating Google’s Adwords policies on misrepresentation, as well as recent research showing the extent of resale sites’ domination of Google search results, achieved through AdWords advertising.
“We constantly review our policies to ensure we are providing good experiences for consumers,” says Google spokesperson Elijah Lawal. “When people use our platform to purchase tickets, we need to make sure that they have an experience they can trust. We think that event ticket resellers that agree to these new transparency requirements will provide a better and safer user experience on our platform.”
“These new transparency requirements will provide a better and safer user experience on our platform”
The implementation of the new event ticket reseller policy – which goes live this evening UK time, with most of the effects understood to start being seen as of tomorrow morning (although the ‘big four’ UK resale sites have already added notices stating prices may be above face value) – has been well received by most industry groups, although several urged Google to go further to protect consumers.
“It’s great that Google has taken this action and have done so on a global basis,” says Jonathan Brown, chief executive of the London-based Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). “Their requirements for clarity on resale websites should help customers searching for tickets, and it looks as though there’s more to come in March when they start requiring face value prices to be given as well.
“Obviously we’re looking forward to seeing what the real impact is once this new policy is fully implemented by Google.”
UK consumers’ association Which? welcomes the move as a “step in the right direction”, but says Google must force websites to “make it absolutely clear to consumers whether they are a primary or secondary seller”.
“If secondary sites don’t also provide clarity on ticket restrictions, ticket location and seller information, they could be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act,” says Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill.
“It’s still not clear enough to buyers when they are on a secondary site”
A spokesperson for StubHub, the world’s biggest ticket marketplace, says the company “has always put fans at the forefront of the business” and “welcome[s] any measures which help improve transparency and protect consumers”.
“StubHub has been engaged in discussions with Google on their new policy and we will be fully compliant once it comes into effect,” the spokesperson says in a statement.
Malte Blumenthal of CTS Eventim – whose FanSALE site was one of the first to be certified by Google – said last month the company welcomes “Google’s initiative for creating additional transparency in the ticketing market and to indicate clearly the differences between primary and secondary market platforms.”
However, a source close to a major UK association echoes Neill’s comments, telling IQ: “Our line would be similar to Which? – we want to see more.”
Despite the ‘prices may be higher or lower than face value’ that have appeared on StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In!, they add, “it’s still not clear enough to buyers when they are on a secondary site.”
More reactions are expected tomorrow when the full impact of the new AdWords policy begins to be felt.
Ticket fraud up 38% in UK
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has warned that ticket fraud in the UK continues to increase, as the ticketing industry body celebrates its 20th year in business.
New data released today by STAR and Action Fraud, the UK’s national cybercrime reporting centre, reveal there were 3,973 reported instances of ticket fraud in Britain over a six-month period in 2017 – over a thousand more than the 2,885 reported in the same period in 2015, a near 38% increase in two years.
The average value of loss, however, declined slightly, to £195.
“What these latest figures show is just how important it is to have an organisation like STAR in place,” comments Adrian Sanders, the association’s chairman. “Sadly, customers are continuing to fall prey to deliberate fraudsters and therefore need to know exactly where they should purchase tickets from safely. Despite the considerable advances in ticket fraud prevention, some customers are still too easily being tricked.
“Customers are still too easily being tricked”
“Purchasing from a STAR member ensures you are buying from a company that has signed up to the high standards of our code. It also means you have somewhere to turn to in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.”
In April, STAR announced more than 1,500 people had tried to buy tickets from a fake ticket agency, Surfed Arts, set up by it, Action Fraud and the City of London police.
STAR held its inaugural meeting in December 1997, and began its work as the self-regulatory body for the entertainment ticketing industry in 1998. Members of STAR, which include every major authorised ticket agency in the UK, agree and work to a strict code of practice.
Commenting on its 20th anniversary, which also sees STAR roll out a new website, chief executive Jonathan Brown says: “The ticketing industry has evolved enormously over the past twenty years, but the core values of what STAR was founded on remain unchanged. Customers deserve the very highest standards when it comes to purchasing tickets, and the work STAR has done, and continues to do, ensures that its members remain reputable and accountable for every transaction.”
STAR, AiE partner on accessible ticketing guide
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) in the UK has published an industry-first guide to accessible ticketing, advising on best practice for selling tickets to disabled and deaf customers.
The guide, Making ticket sales accessible for disabled customers, was commissioned by STAR and written by disability consultancy Nimbus, with input from Attitude is everything. It highlights ways in which ticket agencies can better serve disabled customers, and also addresses the legal and operational considerations around accessible ticketing.
STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown comments: “This guide’s purpose is simple: There needs to be better equal access to online ticketing and organisations need to be considering how they do it, not whether they do it.
“There needs to be better equal access to online ticketing and organisations need to be considering how they do it – not whether they do it”
“STAR has recently run a number of workshops to help increase awareness of this issue. We know that improvements are being made, and there are certainly ticket agents and venues that are currently working towards implementing online booking facilities for disabled people. We look forward to hearing more on these developments later in the year, but there is still much work to be done.”
Penny Mordaunt MP, the UK’s minister of state for disabled people, health and work, adds: “We must do all that we can to offer disabled people a real choice in how and where they spend their time and money. I wholeheartedly welcome the publication of this guide to support ticketing retailers in becoming as accessible as possible, and hope that the whole industry will take the guidance on board.”
The number of deaf and disabled concertgoers rose 26% in 2015. Attitude is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull told IQ earlier this year that there is a growing “international movement towards accessibility”, wherein live music stakeholders are increasingly “expecting disabled people to be in the audience” and making sure their needs are met.