by Dave Wakefield, Republished With Permission
Late last week, Floyd Mayweather made a post that seemed to shock a number of commentators on the Internet and observers when he posted on Instagram that said that if you were looking for tickets to his fight with Connor McGregor, buy them from Ken Solky at LasVegasTickets.com.
This led to a little back and forth between Ken Solky, the broker mentioned, and Dave Brooks of Amplify Media about the nature of scalping versus being a ticket broker, and a few other things.
But the bigger issue isn’t about scalping versus being a broker or anything of the sort.
The bigger issue really comes down to why would Mayweather point fans towards the secondary market versus the primary market at Ticketmaster and I think there are a number of incredibly valid reasons.
Here’s a few from my POV on both sides of the issue:
First, in many cases, the secondary market offers a higher level of customer service than the primary side:
This may or may not come as a shock to many of you reading this because we’ve had it beaten into our heads over the last few years that digital everything is going to the answer to all of our worries.
The fact is that in many cases, the buying decisions and buying path of many digital purchases isn’t as great as it is played up to be. And, when you are making high dollar purchases, the fact is, you need a guide and someone to reassure you as you do more information.
Somewhere the myth of needing more information to make a buying decision has latched onto our psyche and won’t let go.
Here’s the key: buying is always an emotional decision and when you are buying a high dollar ticket to a sporting event or concert, that holds more true than ever.
Which brings us back to the move between the primary and secondary, in the case of buying tickets to the fight, you have a choice of buying from the website of Ticketmaster where there are hundreds to thousands of choices with very little information besides a seat and row number and a price. Or, you can call Ken and talk to someone that can help you make a proper buying decision based on your needs, your budget, and what you want from the evening.
You might say that all of this stuff is obvious to all buyers, but that just isn’t true.
In my own experience, I’ve worked with countless clients that have come to me with preconceived ideas of where they wanted to sit, what the wanted to spend, and what they hoped to achieve for themselves, a family outing, or a business purchase that were off, out of line, or some combination.
Let’s be honest, the buying process, at its best, is pretty confusing…especially if you are a first time buyer or an infrequent buyer.
Second, the buying process through Ticketmaster has been anything but transparent:
Early in the sales process Ticketmaster’s site went down or shifted from the new school pick a seat map to the old school put your request into the box format.
Now, the new school pick a location and shop off the map scenario is back up.
That’s confusing in its own right, but combine that with hundreds of listings and a buyer is going to be really confused.
Just like the myth of “more information needed to buy” has intruded our consciousness at every turn, so has this concept that the buyer needs to know exactly how many tickets are available, at what prices, with what amenities, and on and on.
This causes “overchoice.”
In marketing 101, we found out that having too many choices really causes our potential buyers to stress out and likely make a decision not to buy.
This has played out in industry after industry.
When you look at the efforts by Ticketmaster and other online retailers to make buying “more transparent” or “clearer,” you find that the exact opposite happens in most cases.
Which brings us back to Mayweather’s pick to refer people to the secondary market, again the point can’t be made enough but when you have the opportunity to deal with one point of purchase and talk with a person, the level of openness and transparency increases because if you are dealing with a knowledgeable salesperson they are going to help narrow your options, find choices, and get you into a seat that works for you.
Or, you can go to the web and fall down the rabbit hole of choices. But as many, many retailers have found out, more choices doesn’t mean more sales.
The secondary market is more likely a real reflection of the actual price of the tickets:
One of the arguments and questions that came out of this discussion has been “how much loyalty does a performer owe the primary side to help them sell out?”
That’s a great question because it really strikes at the heart of many of the issues at play in tickets and entertainment right now. These are issues like:
- Why are fans waiting until the last minute to buy?
- Why are fans not buying the way that they used to buy?
- What can we do to make sure that we get more fans into our events, stadiums, and games?
In this case, one of the real reasons to buy from the secondary over the primary is that there has been a lot more price elasticity on the secondary market.
For many buyers, price is a real issue.
In which case the fact that Ticketmaster’s seats have been sitting at one price for the entire on-sale time is likely hurting their ability to sell all of their seats earlier.
Which doesn’t mean that they won’t sell out by the time the fight starts, but it does mean that if someone is trying to plan a trip to Vegas for the fight and has a number of variables, including price, working with a broker may be more attractive than going all or nothing with Ticketmaster.
While likely not 100% accurate in all cases, for some buyers this may be a make a break decision point.
When you factor into any bonus experiential offers that may be included with the tickets like a pre-party, post-party, or ability to help with hotel reservations, other shows, etc. then you may find that having a more accurate pulse and price point in the market makes a lot more sense for a lot of buyers.
Regardless, the truth is that buyers don’t have as much of an absolute belief in the primary versus secondary any longer and when you think about what is offered from the POV of a buyer and not the seller, you likely see that there are many valid reasons to buy from the secondary market and in some cases the service provided makes the choice a little easier.
In the long run, maybe Mayweather realized that as well.