The ticket resale process can sometimes be confusing for customers who aren’t aware that they’re buying their ducats from a broker rather than a primary seller, especially when they arrive at the box office. But in the Ticket Summit 2009 NYC panel “Box Office Blues: Venue Issues in the Evolving Market,” venue representatives and brokers discussed solutions for improving the customer experience even after a ticket sale has been completed.

Moderator Dave Brooks, an editor and writer for trade publication Venues Today, opened the panel discussion to the audience, allowing the two sides to actively trade thoughts and questions on the subject.

“We need to figure out a better way to treat our customers, whether they’re primary or secondary customers,” said panelist Karen Sullivan, vice president of ticketing for the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, NJ. “We need to help get the people to their seats.”

Sullivan and Dave Touhey, vice president of booking and entertainment at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, noted that they frequently work with brokers to make box office transactions and ticket pick-ups go as smoothly as possible, but wished they had more connections with the industry to clear up last-minute ticketing questions or errors.

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A majority of brokers, Sullivan and Touhey agreed, are pro-active and responsible when it comes to customer service. Touhey applauded brokers who set up shop near box offices on the day of major ticketing events to hand-deliver ducats to customers, answer questions or resolve any unexpected issues.

However, the practices of just a few brokers and failed fan-to-fan transactions have clouded the industry’s reputation. “The more popular a show is, the more resale there is and the more fraud there is,” Sullivan stated. “The problem isn’t with resale, it’s with the fraud.”

“No one’s trying to vilify brokers [in the venues or box offices]. We’re asking for your help so you won’t be vilified,” Touhey appealed to the audience. He frequently noted that he was preaching to the choir when it comes to customer service, but hoped to receive feedback on streamlining the secondary market’s box office experience.

As a result, the panelists, including Association of Luxury Suite Directors Executive Director Bill Dorsey and Cincinnati Reds consultant Pat McCaffrey, turned the question to the audience: What can we do to improve customer and box office communications with brokers?

The impromptu brainstorming session produced a number of solutions, including compiling a list of contact information to post in box offices in the event of customer questions, and requiring tickets to be printed on security paper to prevent copying.

Both sides agreed that these steps to open channels of communication between box offices, ticket holders and brokers would improve customer service on both ends of the industry and maintain the flow of satisfied fans through venue doors.

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Last Updated on January 9, 2009