I was recently asked to be a panelist at the upcoming Ticket Summit 2010 and it made be think back to the last two Ticket Summit events that I’ve attended.
The first was the conference’s second year. 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 (although once you consider that Fred Rosen was retired and Qcue was in its infancy, there was actually just one, Derek Palmer of Tickets.com).
Fast forward to this past July. StubHub’s president gave a keynote address, the New Jersey Nets had a booth, and Qcue was the controversial young company. In fact, our pricing panel stirred up such a healthy debate on what dynamic pricing really is and how it affects brokers and season ticket holders, that I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the three the biggest misconceptions raised during the discussion.
“With dynamic pricing, I won’t be able to resell my tickets for bad games since teams will just drop prices.”
What if I told you that prices are more likely to rise than fall over time, even for the worst games? Dynamic pricing is about being smarter with pricing, not just dynamic. That means that at the start of the season, a game played on Tuesday night against the last place team will start at a lower price than a game played on Saturday afternoon against your archrival. And there isn’t much that can happen to that Tuesday night game to make it worse. Sure it can rain, but barring that, prices will only move up as tickets sell and the game becomes, with any luck, better than it looked on paper.
You’ve always known that those games had different values because you could sell them for different prices — but with dynamic pricing, you can’t pretend you paid the same price for them anymore, because you didn’t. Once you consider your real cost for those low value games, you’ll quickly realize that you can sell them at a fair price and dynamic pricing helps.
“I just found an interesting blog post about dynamic pricing for Giants tickets. For the first two games, it looks like ticket prices increased leading up to the game. Under the dynamic pricing model, don’t prices generally go down as the game approaches?”
If you track prices for tickets on StubHub or the other exchanges, you’ll see ticket prices drop immediately prior to an event. But dynamic pricing is very different from pricing on the secondary market. One element of this is that teams have more tickets to sell, meaning that they’re going to be more conservative with prices earlier in the sales cycle. As more tickets sell, and availability decreases, the prices leading up to a game will actually increase.
If you aren’t convinced that primary and secondary market pricing are different, take a look at group sales. Any team will gladly give you a discount for 25 tickets together because they have 20,000+ seats to sell and bigger sales are advantageous. But that same purchase on the secondary market will cost you a premium because for a broker, 25 seats together is a scarce commodity.
“Dynamic pricing is going to devalue my tickets. The team will just try to undercut me on the secondary market.”
Season ticket holders are the lifeblood of teams, and teams will always protect those loyal customers. Dynamic pricing brings more fans to the game, providing a better fan experience across the stadium, and increasing the resale value of tickets. More tickets sold also means more revenues for teams, which ultimately translates into lower costs for season ticket holders.
Dynamic pricing is really about teams being more intelligent and flexible with pricing – which means protecting your most loyal customers and increasing the value they receive. Increasing attendance and more accurately pricing premium games are two ways in which dynamic pricing achieves those goals.
Barry Kahn is the founder and CEO of Qcue, the world’s only dynamic pricing engine for live entertainment events. Sports teams, concert promoters and venues use Qcue’s patent-pending technology to set the right price at the right time, and provide the best value for fans, from the onsale date right up to the event date. Customers and partners include the San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball and Tickets.com.