By Alfred Branch, Jr.
Seatwave.com, a U.K.-based ticket reseller, is wrapping up its beta phase and plans to launch publicly in January, according to James Hamlin, the company’s director of online marketing. Former Ticketmaster executive Joe Cohen heads the venture capital-backed firm and is joined by former employees of AOL, CitySearch and Match.com.
Listing tickets for sale on the site is free, but Seatwave charges an administration fee for each successful transaction. The amount of the administration fee varies and was not disclosed, but similar reselling sites charge fees of about 10 percent for many events. Through its “TicketIntegrity” trademark, the company guarantees that the tickets sold come from legitimate sources and that they will arrive on time for the event. Under the guarantee, buyers who experience a problem can receive compensation in the form of the full face value of the ticket plus half of what the buyer paid.
Hamlin declined offering further comment, but said the company will make a marketing push in conjunction with the launch.
One unique feature of Seatwave is the site has a free, dedicated blogging page where buyers and sellers can set up individual blogs to communicate with each other, ask questions and offer comments on the events they’ve seen.
The company is entering an increasingly crowded field of resellers, including Viagogo.com and Soldouteventtickets.com, and its launch comes on the heels of U.K. government officials vowing to crack down on scalping, referred to as “touting.” Last summer, the government called upon the entertainment industry to institute reforms to better police touting by the summer of 2007.
“The innocent victim of ticket touting is the fan who has to pay through the nose for a vastly overpriced ticket to see their sporting, stage or musical hero,” Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told BBC News. “These are the people we must protect.”
Ebay appears to the main online focus of the government inquiry, but where it will leave Seatwave, Viagogo and others is still unknown. Officials are not planning legislation outlawing touting but are looking to make touting more difficult to accomplish, according to published reports.
“What we are looking to do though is to stop the enormous proliferation that has come about, with the advent of the internet, of people that are buying tickets purely and simply with a view to making profits out of genuine concert-goers,” Stuart Galbraith, managing director of Live Nation, told BBC News.