Barry Kahn, founder and CEO of Qcue, will present once again at the upcoming Ticket Summit to be held on January 13-15, 2010, at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. Qcue offers a dynamic pricing model to sports teams, promoters and venues in order to optimize ticket revenue in response to fluctuations in market and environmental conditions. An economist, Kahn guides company strategy and product direction for Qcue as well as overseeing business and partner development. Kahn recently shared with TicketNews his hopes and expectations for the upcoming Summit.
Q: You will be presenting at Ticket Summit 2010. What topics do you expect to focus on in your presentation?
A: My focus will be on dynamic pricing, but more specifically, I’ll spend a lot of the time discussing how dynamic pricing by teams and promoters impacts season ticket holders. The audience at Ticket Summit is primarily brokers who hold season tickets, so I think the real interest here is going to be how dynamic pricing is going to effect resale value and how brokers have the opportunity to change some of their purchasing patterns to take advantage of dynamic pricing and make their season tickets a much more valuable commodity.
Q: How many times have you appeared at Ticket Summit?
A: This is my second time speaking at Ticket Summit. I also attended the conference once as an attendee, back when the conference and Qcue were both in their infancy. Back then, Alfred Branch was the lone reporter for TicketNews, StubHub was the controversial young company, and there were only three representatives from the primary market. So it really has been interesting to see the conference evolve as it has and to now being in a position where I have some knowledge and experience to share.
Q: Tell me more about your experiences with Ticket Summit over the years.
A: At the first conference I attended, to say I was green would be an understatement. Anyone in the business will tell you that ticketing isn’t like any other industry and in those three days (and nights) I picked up a lifetime’s worth of knowledge.
Fast forward to July’s conference and I had a much deeper understanding of the industry, and the industry had matured. StubHub is now an industry staple. Their president gave a keynote address [at the Summit], the New Jersey Nets had a booth at a secondary market convention, and I got the opportunity to represent Qcue as the controversial young company. I was very impressed by the enthusiasm and interest in what we are doing. It resulted in a lively discussion that began during our pricing panel and followed me around for the rest of the evening.
Q: What challenges do you see ahead for the ticketing industry?
A: The buzz around the industry for the last year or so has been the merging of the primary and secondary markets, and I think the real challenges here are how both sides respond. While there have been some attempts to prevent the markets from merging, such as technology like paperless tickets, I think everyone is better off with a more unified market. Of course, how to price tickets continues to be the biggest challenge organizations must solve. The San Francisco Giants and the Dallas Stars have already taken steps to be more nimble in this new marketplace and you’re going to see a lot of teams and promoters follow their lead – which involves completely changing the way they’ve sold tickets for decades. I think in 3-5 years on the outside, secondary market websites like StubHub and TicketsNow will start to look a lot more like Orbitz and Kayak, with primary and secondary market tickets being sold side-by-side (openly). What that means is these websites become a different sales channel, not a different marketplace, and that is going to change the way that primary and secondary market sellers have to price their tickets.
Q: What new and impressive companies or individuals do you see on the horizon?
A: Obviously, I am going to say Qcue here. But the honest answer is that I think for the first time in decades, it is the primary market where the innovation is happening. I know a lot of new companies are coming out of the secondary market, but I still haven’t seen anything on that side of the business that is a game changer. But watching established organizations recognize the changing tide and respond by embracing technology and changing business models has been inspiring. We’ve seen that from Russ Stanley at the San Francisco Giants and Colin Faulkner at the Dallas Stars. These are two people who have been able to take their organizations in a new direction and really change the tide of an industry. You are also seeing some game changing innovation from Larry Witherspoon and Derek Palmer at Tickets.com. While it doesn’t garner the headlines, they are trying to change the face of the primary ticket market by redefining the ticketing system as an e-commerce platform, something that should have happened a long time ago.
Barry Kahn will be at Ticket Summit to discuss “How to Price your Tickets” on Friday, January 15 from 10am to 11am.