There has been a lot of recent discussion about the possibility of developing and launching new Ticket Exchange platforms into the marketplace. In general, we welcome having additional players in the marketplace, and think that new exchanges could push everyone to improve, and could offer us additional opportunities to connect ticket buyers with ticket sellers.
At the same time, many of the arguments being made to justify new exchanges seem specious at best.
MyCityRocks has been a TicketNetwork partner for around five years now, and one of their more substantial partners for the past three years. The improvements that TicketNetwork has made over that time period have been phenomenal.
Two years ago we estimated that close to 25% of customers had an experience so terrible that they would never use the service again under any circumstance, and we were close to the point of ending participation in TicketNetwork’s partnership program. I made the trek to Vernon to meet with the folks at the company and see that our concerns were heard. We were assured that things were going to change, and they did. Today the percentage of customers who have a bad experience is negligible… surely FAR less than 1%, and continually decreasing. We see lots of repeat customers now and are pleased to hear from so many happy fans about the wonderful experiences they have had through using the service.
Pivotal in turning the secondary ticket market into a legitimate business for us has been seeing TicketNetwork implement policies and processes which have significantly increased the percentage of orders that are accepted, and the speed at which they are accepted. Also critical, has been the virtual elimination of busted orders as well as broker practices which provided customers no or false expectations as to when their orders would be shipped.
When an accepted order is busted, much more often than not, it is our reputation, and not that of the broker, that the customer sullies to their friends and on the social networks. We are thrilled that TicketNetwork has implemented policies and financial incentives to make it clear to those brokers who were giving us and our industry a bad name that they would either have to clean up their act or leave the network.
Ticket Brokers are the lifeblood of the secondary ticket market, and they provide a truly valuable service both to us and the public.
However, we really don’t find it in the least amusing when we get a letter or a phone call from an attorney, the BBB, or a state Attorney General alleging fraud because a broker, either intentionally or accidentally, has created a deceptive listing or engaged in a transaction they had no ability to fulfill. We are very glad to see that TicketNetwork is providing the oversight necessary to prevent those circumstances from occurring, even if the cost of making it happen is not negligible. We know that the staffing, infrastructure and operational costs are substantial for TicketNetwork to manage and operate a fair and accurate marketplace with millions of listed tickets, and dealing with many thousands of ticket sellers engaging in transactions with many thousands of customers a day. And we know that it would take more than a few million dollars of investment at this point for a new ticket exchange to enter the market with similar levels of fulfillment and customer service.
We are not brokers and know very little about buying tickets. But we do know a great deal about how to find people who want to buy the tickets that brokers have to offer, and we are very good at connecting sellers with buyers who are at times willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a ticket order.
TicketNetwork was, at its foundation, a broker developed and operated system. We know that the rules, financial policies and incentives they have implemented for working with other brokers have been driven by the needs and costs of maturing the industry into an era where the public will view it with legitimacy. Surely there is still plenty of room for improvement in the way that they rate and work with brokers.
However, we see continual improvement in all aspects of their business process, and know and trust that a year from now circumstances will be improved even further.
If creating a new ticket exchange platform is simply a mechanism to give brokers who bust orders or treat customers with contempt a new outlet to engage in those practices, then we want nothing to do with it. Such efforts would be a huge step backwards that would only harm our industry and we hope to see them vanish quietly into the night.
On the other hand, if new ticket exchanges employ true innovation that results in improved customer experiences, we heartily embrace such efforts.
Cliff Kurtzman, Ph.D., is the executive director of MyCityRocks, a rapidly expanding social engagement venture which focuses on helping people enjoying their passions for things like music, art, theatre, food, sports, romance, and travel while also making their part of the world a better place to live. MyCityRocks provides a framework for bridging the gap between online social networking and offline real-world activity.