Buying tickets for live sports events these days can be an expensive undertaking. Worse, it could turn disastrous if you arrive to find you’ve bought bad seats. Enter Rate Your Seats, which aims to take some of the guesswork out of live event seat selection.
Launched in February of this year, Rate Your Seats provides a place for fans to rate and review their seat locations at sporting events, allowing a prospective ticket buyer to “try on” those locations in order to find the best seat available.
Users rate their event experiences using a five star scale regarding a total of eight factors, including the quality and proximity of food concessions, view of the event, nature of the surrounding crowd and access to restrooms. Additional ratings are given on the venue experience, including ease of parking and tailgating opportunities. Fans may also share photos of the event and talk about their ticket buying experience on the site.
A prospective ticket buyer locates ratings by clicking on the team of their choice (the site currently has listings for the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL), which takes them to the team’s venue page. Once here, the user can view any section ratings for that stadium. Next to each section are the various fan ratings for that section, including scores on each individual factor, an overall score, and the average price paid per tickets. Rolling over the section number pops up a picture of the fan perspective from that location. Clicking on the section number brings up a list of seats rated for that section, and clicking on a seat entry gives a more detailed review of the experience from that seat. At the bottom of the venue, section and seat pages are listings of available tickets from various secondary sellers, with links for users to purchase tickets.
Thus far, the site has constructed pages for over 15,000 sections in 120 venues, with displayable pictures from 12,000 of those sections.
Keith Hanson, founder of Rate Your Seats, sees this site as meeting a long-standing need for buyers on the secondary market. In a recent conversation with TicketNews.com, he explained, “With the growth of secondary ticket marketplaces, fans now have more options than ever when it comes to purchasing tickets. And like the travel industry ten years ago, there is no way for consumers to make an educated decision on one set of seats or another. RateYourSeats.com hopes to solve this problem by collecting and displaying seat reviews and seat ratings.”
According to Hanson, the site currently has 200 reviews submitted, with a similar number of registered users and considerably more unregistered visitors.
The company has developed affiliate partnerships with both ticket brokers and travel sites, and Hanson has other potential sources of income in the works, but he asserts that his primary focus at this point is to build awareness and recognition of the Rate Your Seats product. “Generating revenue is not a current goal of the organization,” Hanson said. “We have a product that our users have responded favorably to, and we are trying to gather as much feedback and refine our product as much as possible before trying to generate revenue.”
In the meantime, collaboration with ticket brokers should play a significant part in Hanson’s business plan. “We are providing this service specifically for those who buy from ticket brokers, so we think there is a natural fit. We think we can offer great benefit to brokers and secondary ticket marketplaces. The more confidence consumers have in their research, the less likely they are to abandon their purchase…with tickets costing into the hundreds of dollars, there is a lot of skepticism from consumers. Removing the skepticism and replacing it with confidence can increase overall ticket sales, positive experiences and repeat purchases.”
As for plans for growth, Hanson sees his company soon expanding to cover the likes of concert venues, theaters, and college sports arenas. In terms of audience, he hopes to drive traffic to the site using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and image sharing sites to connect with fans using these sites live while attending an event.
There are also plans to build an “in-stadium presence” where Rate Your Seats staff will interact directly with fans at live events across the U.S. And, there are those plans for partnerships, the benefits of which are yet to be realized: “We also hope to leverage relationships with ticket brokers and ticket marketplaces to drive future growth.”