Not only has the line been blurred between primary and secondary ticket sellers it has been completely eliminated, according to several speakers and ticket brokers at the first day of the National Association of Ticket Brokers conference in Las Vegas. The annual event drew a few hundred members of the ticketing industry to the Wynn Las Vegas where the topic of conversation centered on where the burgeoning industry is headed next.
“The primary ticket market wants to be in the secondary market, and the secondary market has already become like the primary market,” said Dan DeMato, formerly the director of ticket operations for the New York Mets and now an industry consultant with FutureTix. “There are more first-time sales on secondary ticket broker Web sites than ever before.”
Greater transparency throughout the industry appeared to dominate much of the conversation as executives acknowledged that to survive, more businesses are going to need to work together. “Fans will know,” said Greg Bettinelli, who is a top executive with Live Nation’s new ticket venture. “The companies that are the most transparent are the companies that will win.”
Bettinelli, who will be a speaker at Ticket Summit 2008 July 23-25 also in Las Vegas, went on to say that from a fan’s perspective the secondary ticket market is ineffective, in part because shipping and transaction costs are too high. Bettinelli worked at StubHub prior to joining Live Nation, and he said that Live Nation’s tickets generate $400 million on the secondary market annually, carry a total of $100 million in fees, and cost a total of about $20 million to ship. “We’re really just shipping a bar code. Google and FedEx are the only ones really making money in this industry.”
Joe Freeman, head of communications for Ticketmaster, said that a lot of mistrust still exists between brokers, primary ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and venues, and urged members of the broker community to reach out to venue operators and local box office managers. “We’re all in this together.”
One of the event’s biggest applause points came when TicketNetwork owner and CEO Don Vaccaro grilled Freeman about the perception that Ticketmaster is trying to hurt brokers by some of it recent moves. “We didn’t just make a significant purchase in buying TicketsNow to hurt brokers,” Freeman said.
“At the end of the day, the line between primary and secondary ticket sellers is gone,” Derek Palmer of Tickets.com told the audience during a panel on the primary market. “The availability of inventory and the ability to connect to it will continue to grow.”
Freeman’s boss Sean Moriarty, President and CEO of Ticketmaster and the convention’s keynote speaker, reiterated the communications director’s sentiments during his 20-minute address. Since Ticketmaster purchased secondary ticket company TicketsNow earlier in year, Moriarty has tried to raise his profile in the industry and is working to bolster the company’s image among brokers. “It’s easier to find tickets than ever before, but market awareness is still low. We must figure out how to put together complementary aspects of our industry.”
“Do we continue to exist in a world where we fight to stay where we are, or do we embrace technology and other factors and figure out how to tap into new opportunities?” he asked. Those opportunities include more paperless ticketing, and dynamic pricing where tickets are not only discounted on the fly but also increased, among others.
He ended with a plea for more cooperation and partnerships among brokers the primary ticket sellers. “When you look at partnerships, it’s actually about two people working together to provide something that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, and the money comes from third parties that recognize that.”