By Christine Paluf
Celine Dion’s performances at the specially built Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, have been regular sell outs since it began in 2003. Ticketmaster offers four seating levels, ranging from $79 to $204, plus service charges, which are higher as the price rises.
Buying tickets through the Caesar’s Palace site brings you right to the Ticketmaster page. But if you’re looking for more than 8 tickets, you’re out of luck with that avenue.
“On Ticketmaster you can’t use more than one credit card per eight tickets,” explained Director of Colosseum Sales for Caesar’s Palace Vicky Savini. “You can’t buy group tickets at Ticketmaster because ticket brokers buy tickets and resell them.”
Box Office Manager for Caesar’s Colosseum Bruce Felinberg said “There’s a ticket limit across the board to everybody, to give the masses the opportunity to see the show. … Right now we’re selling at 95 percent capacity.”
The group sales are offered as a “service,” but offers no discounts. Aside from a couple of section upgrades for groups larger than 20, and “each ticket ends up costing a few dollars less,” according to Savini, because the service charge is only $12.50 per ticket.
Finding a discount when it comes to Vegas shows is a challenge. The Website Vegas.com is another place that lists tickets for sale to see Celine. But don’t expect a deal on tickets here, even though they’re called package deals.
Felinberg said that AEG Live, the promoter of the event, “sells packages through Vegas.com, and Caesar’s as well, as partners. … The pricing is set, we work directly with them.”
Vegas.com offers four price points to correspond with the levels in the Colosseum, ranging from $115 to $252.50.
The $115 ticket gives you the same ticket you can buy on Ticketmaster for $79, but you also get a drink at the show. The “Show & Drink Package” offers little else, except for the addition of $22.70 in convenience charges and processing fees.
Some quick math reveals that this is less than a deal. A representative from the Colloseum’s catering division said that drinks at the show range from $7 beers to a $14 ‘souvenir drinks,’ and top off at $15 for the most expensive wine offering.
So if you’re planning to take home your glass, with the charges and taxes, you’ll be paying $137.70 for a $79 ticket and one drink. That’s a $58 cocktail.
When asked if the customer is getting a benefit for purchasing the package, Felinberg replied, “They’re not. Vegas.com is just another landing site. Because of our agreement the only way they can sell tickets is to package them.
“The price does go up [on Vegas.com] with taxes and service charge. We as a promoter retain the majority of that value,” Felinberg continued. “Vegas.com gets their service charges and fees.”
So the $58 drink may not actually cost $58, but that’s what the customer will pay.
“That doesn’t make sense to pay that much just for a drink,” said Vegas.com spokesperson Pamela Johnson.
After checking to see the reasoning behind the inflated pricing, Johnson said that the reason tickets are priced as they are on the site is that Vegas.com offers “a totally different kind of customer service.”
“We don’t make any money on the drink. But we may have our own seats, which we would have available when others are sold out, our purchase path is easier, and when most people come to Vegas, they’re not just doing one thing,” Johnson explained. “They like the convenience of having this all in one place. If you’re going to Vegas and booking a lot of stuff, Ticketmaster isn’t going to do you any good.”
Felinberg said that Ticketmaster’s face value of $79 doesn’t reflect all fees. There is a 10 percent live entertainment tax that shows up once you complete your order.
“Ticketmaster shows the initial price, it doesn’t show taxes. Face value is actually $87.50 for the second mezzanine,” he said. “The original is the net, and doesn’t include the live entertainment tax.”
So basically, buying a ticket from Vegas.com only makes sense if you are there buying a bunch of other items and want to pay more for the convenience of one-stop shopping.
“Vegas.com is a terrific marketing tool, a terrific partner. They know how to market their Website, their product,” Felinberg said.
“We’re the largest ticket seller of shows in Nevada. We sell more than Ticketmaster,” said Johnson of the site. “Our competitors are scalpers who are charging boat loads more.”
Which raises the question of whether the site should be considered a reseller or not.
“Vegas.com is the largest city site in the world,” Johnson said. “We have our own inventory, we have the relationships to get that inventory, and we’re part of a media company that’s been around for over 50 years, and that allows for cooperation.
“We have a business relationship with the show, so we get access to specific seats,” Johnson explained. “And because of our deal we have really good seats.”
“We have a confidential agreement between the three parties [Caesar’s, Ticketmaster and Vegas.com]. When there’s inventory still available, Ticketmaster has the first opportunity,” Felinberg said. “Vegas.com gets an allotment, but it’s not unlimited. If a show is sold out on Ticketmaster, it also will be on Vegas.com.”