A new player in the ticketing space aims to marry the familiarity of social networking with traditional internet resale.
Unseat.me provides a place for sports season ticket holders to let their friends and family know about the tickets they would like to sell off, removing the anonymity that is characteristic of some other secondary ticket resale Web sites, such as StubHub.
The company, currently in a closed beta phase, is the brainchild of Lael Sturm, who found that he was more interested in selling his San Francisco Giants season tickets to his own friends and family than to strangers, but no resale site offered him this level of transparency.
Unseat.me provides such transparency by allowing sellers to share their online ticket inventory easily with their social circles, facilitating direct communication between seller and buyer.
The unseat.me user starts by creating a personalized sales page on the site, then lists all tickets that are for sale. Next, the seller uses the service’s social networking connection to announce the listings to Facebook and Twitter contacts, who can then jump to the seller’s page to browse tickets.
If a seller has tickets listed on StubHub, those listings can be imported to the seller’s home page. Once on that page, a buyer clicks the “Buy Tix” button next to the ticket entry and will be redirected to StubHub, where the purchase can be made. StubHub is presently the sole ticketer working with unseat.me, but Sturm is in talks to sign future agreements with other, unidentified secondary ticketers.
If the seller is not listing on StubHub, he/she gets a “Contact Me” button next to each ticket entry, inviting prospective buyers to email with their interest in the tickets. This allows buyer and seller to start a communication about the tickets in question, even making arrangements to meet in person if they choose. The site currently can handle most major league sports, including the NHL, NBA, MLB, and, just added in recent weeks, the NFL.
Site revenue will be generated through a number of sources, according to Sturm, who recently spoke with TicketNews about his new company: “We are discussing several options [for income], including affiliate fees from secondary markets, premium services for sellers and dedicated tools for professional sellers.” The site does not work directly with brokers, but Sturm does not rule out such arrangements for the future: “If we see significant demand in that community, we will build tools to suit their needs.”
At present, the site has 300 users, in addition to several thousand waiting to get invitations (through a quick application process on the site’s front page). Explains Sturm, “We are keeping the user number low while we test new features and build the technology so it scales.” He is estimating the official launch to occur sometime this summer.
Since this new product adds an extra, social-based layer to an already existing ticket listing, it doesn’t directly compete with the secondary ticketers. “We are platform agnostic, which allows us to work with any secondary ticket market, any team/venue and in any country,” explains Sturm. “This technology is additive to the industry and our intent is to drive additional transactions into the marketplace by putting offers in front of people who might otherwise not be looking for tickets.”
Plans for the future include expansion of ticket listing capabilities to the arts and other live events by year’s end, as well as possibly connecting to LinkedIn should corporate business pick up. Sturm is hoping that seller word-of-mouth will help the company in its initial months, while at the same time he will be seeking “strategic partnerships” to further grow the business.
And, Sturm hopes that the unseat.me/social network interface will provide its own powerful advertising: “As we further integrate with Facebook, sellers will see more and more unseat.me links on their home pages.”