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TicketProxy appeases customers by eliminating service fees
TicketProxy.com is bringing a new sales model into the secondary ticketing space. The new ticket brokerage is aiming to prove that the service fee, long a staple for secondary ticketers, is not a necessary part of doing business.
Launched in January, TicketProxy is a Denver-based start-up developed by Nico Casias, Chelsea Gullette, and Mark Evans.
"The idea came in 2011 from a realization that our industry was changing quickly," Casias, who manages sales and inventory, recently explained to TicketNews. "Having been in the industry for eight years…I've seen a few changes. But after hearing a talk at Ticket Summit by founding CEO of Ticketmaster, Fred Rosen, I realized that if we wanted to last in this industry, we needed customers to come to us, and we needed provide a reason for them to do so."
Previous experience in ticket sales revealed to the trio one major customer complaint, which, if resolved, could bring those customers in: service charges added to the total at checkout, often surprising the ticket buyer. TicketProxy's answer: its tickets would be sold at one stable price from selection to checkout, with the sole addition of a delivery fee.
The company has found this move to be good not only for customer relations, but also the bottom line. In a recent press release, sales and customer service specialist Gullette noted, "Customer complaints regarding the cost of tickets are almost non-existent. They know they're often paying above face value for premium and sold out tickets, but are pleasantly surprised when the only additional cost is a delivery fee; which we're also considering eliminating."
And as for the bottom line, TicketProxy has exceeded its first quarter goals and is on track to do the same for the year.
"[Customers] know they're going to pay a premium," remarked Evans in the same interview with TicketNews, "but with the standard service fee model, [they] don't know how much those $100 tickets are going to cost them once they click 'Buy'."
"Our no service fee policy doesn't mean that tickets aren't marked-up. It simply means that the markup is shown before you click the 'Buy' button; we want to be up-front about the price and we want the consumer to know where they stand before they make that first step to purchasing."
This is an unusual stance for a ticketer to take, with the service fee a more or less expected add-on for ticket buyers in the secondary (and primary) market and usually representing a significant percentage of a reseller's profit.
But the ticketing industry is beginning to experience a backlash against the longstanding practice of service fees. Most recently, the Colorado jam band String Cheese Incident helped fans avoid Ticketmaster's service fees by staging an en masse cash buy of tickets to their show at L.A.'s Greek Theatre. Fans and friends managed to buy nearly 400 of the show's tickets at the $49.95 face value, which the band in turn sold on their website, fee-free except for a $12 shipping charge.
On May 21, Pittsburgh ticket broker Headline Tickets Now announced that the company would no longer be charging service fees on its event tickets. In a press release announcing the news, the company also stated that their customers can also learn how much profit the broker will make on a ticket before they buy it.
At the TicketProxy site, fans can peruse ticket listing for theater, concert, and sporting events throughout the U.S. and Canada. A blog written by the company's co-founders aims to enhance the customer service product that fans receive when they purchase tickets: "[It] gives consumers tips on how to get tickets from the box office before they sell out; lets readers know about upcoming box office onsales; and even gives consumers tips on how to get tickets on the secondary market for less than face value," says Evans.
While the founders are aware that they are not the only ticketer working to make the process more transparent, they are proud of what they have built thus far. "We believe it's important to let the consumer know that while we are out to make money, we won't resort to malicious or unethical tactics to do it," says Evans. "We hope that we can leave a good and lasting impression in this industry where brokers, by the actions of a few, have been stereotyped as dishonest and unethical."