Your time is nigh Ticketek. React or die.

Been to this site recently?

Not many have. Just 6500 visitors a day visit Autotrader, a lot less than the over 140,000 per day average that visit Trade Me Motors.

Autotrader lost because everything was just too hard and too expensive. Their business practices were inherently expensive and unfair to dealers, and the process was painful to sellers and customers versus the ease of Trade Me. They were unable to adapt to the arrival of the internet, and when Trade Me deigned to pay attention to the market they soon faded away.

Ticketek is in the same situation. They sell 10 million tickets each year across in Australia and New Zealand, and do so in a way that seems to make people hate them. I certainly resent ever having to give any money to Ticketek – they seem to go out of their way to make the buying experience painful and expensive.

You represent a band. Go ahead – get Ticketek to represent you. Start with the website.

I can’t find a way. It seems Ticketek signs venues not acts, but even as a venue I can’t find a way into that site. And there is plenty else wrong with that page, even if you like a lot of blue. The logo refers to Ticketek.com, which is a gateway site – ther eis no real site at Ticketek.com, just some faded dreams.

The links at the top of the homepage are over two lines and with two different designs. Moreover they link to MSN, Bing, and, incredibly, Autotrader.

The buying process is disingenuous. First there is the note underneath ticket pricing that states “service fee may apply.”

What it should say is “We should include our outrageous fees in the advertised price under NZ law, but this little sticker says we don’t have to. Oh – and we’re kidding when we imply that fees may apply – fees always apply”

The first fee is delivery fee, which you have to pay as there is no online option:

Because it costs $8 to print a ticket out and put it into a stamped envelope. Automatically. And it costs  $8000 to hire people and print tickets for the 1000 tickets that people pick up at the venue.

Finally there are all the other fees. I declined to find out what they were because I had to register to continue – and was confronted with this screen of transaction death:

Enough.

Ticketek dominates the space because they have the contracts with the event holders sewn up. Their usability and values can be horrific but if their venues get the acts we want to see, then we will suffer accordingly.

But Autotrader used to have all of the motor vehicle dealers sewn up as well. Trade Me, through Autobase, had to approach every one of them – and slowly they moved away until the floodgates opened. They moved away because Autobase and Trade Me were easier to deal with, cheaper and a lot more effective at selling cars.

Enter EventFinder. They have been around for a bit, and it’s a friendly experience to use their site as a buyer:

They charge just $2 service fee for this Phoenix Foundation gig.

However they still want me to register, though the screen is not so intimidating.

So I gave up as well. I won’t get to see the SF bath house just yet.

A quick aside – a while ago I wrote about not making customers register as they go through the buying process, using Ascent as the case study. Well MightyApe actually tried this out after reading that article, and saw sales rise by a significant percentage. (Dylan said I could not quote the actual percentage, but it was a good one).

If you’ve read this far and you have a register screen on your site before allowing customers to buy, then why not A/B test this? Give it a go, and do let me know down the track how it works out for you.

I suggest the folks at EventFinder try it as well. The trick is to ask only for the details you need to deliver a ticket, and to do that at the last possible moment of the transaction. Get my email address for sending the voucher, my street address for the credit card authorisation and that’s it. When all is done you can whether I would like to add a password to save details for next time. Don’t call it registration though. You can separately ask whether I want to be spammed, I mean, added to your email lists.

Anyway – the feel of EventFinder is a lot lot better than Ticketek, but the real news is that they have made it dead easy for event providers to sell tickets. Introducing EventFinderPro, which is at the url of SellTicketsOnline.co.nz for now.

It feels right. It feels fair.

It seems the sites are providing a better service to sellers, lowering the costs of delivering that service and providing a massively better customer experience for buyers. (They syndicate the event listings through several other sites) They are aiming at the smaller sellers first, but getting increasingly professional. Sound familiar?

They charge sellers $1 per ticket sold. I have not reconciled that with the $2 that the customer is charged for the Phoenix tickets though. Will they still charge customers that fee?

They are implying that Ticketek is taking money from sellers in a variety of ways, and not all of them pleasant. Meanwhile EventFinder is front and center about their value proposition to sellers and are attacking Ticketek at the point of customer pain:

On EventFinder free means free. I hate to think what comped tickets cost on Ticketek.

EventfinderPro also seems to have lovely tracking charts for sellers, and pay the next day. They also appear to be able to ramp up their product for bigger venues – with scanners and the like available. I’d use them if I had an event to sell.

So Eventfinder seems cheaper, faster, simpler and a darn sight more fun to deal with than Ticketek.

While Ticketek has the venue market now, they have been treating buyers and sellers poorly, and the tide of frustration is getting ready to break. If Eventfinder plays this right, and Ticketek, as I suspect, are institutionally incapable of changing, then it is just a matter of time. They can rect, but that reaction will need to be to move to where EventFinder alredy is, and they will see a loss of revenue as they do it. The alternative is to hang on to a business that slowly fades away.

Ticketek has just 225 venues across Australia and New Zealand, and it will get progressiviely easy to switch those venues over to EventFinder as time goes by. EventFinder will need a strong sales effort and patience to make this happen.

EventFinder’s cost to serve venues is lower, and they take less money from customers and venues and their website makes it easier to buy and sell tickets. If they win they will help reduce the real cost of tickets for customers, put more dollars in the hands of venues and acts and fill the clubs and stadiums. And wouldn’t that be a good thing.

At some stage the economic model of Ticketek will collapse, they will thankfully disappear, and we can all start going to concerts again.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
This entry was posted in Internet Business, NZ Business, Trade Me. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Your time is nigh Ticketek. React or die.

  1. Juha says:

    Ticketek has something of a monopoly on ticket sales for events and it’s one important reason I don’t get out more. Having to pay for tickets and then pay again even when you pick them up in person is just too galling for words.

  2. Steve says:

    If you think Ticketek is bad, give Ticketmaster a go. Possibly the worst user experience I’ve ever found for a large website. They don’t even tell you whether a particular session is available or not – for each combination of ticket class (A res, B res, etc) and session (21 jan, 22 jan), you have to manually check – AND FILL IN A FUCKING CAPTCHA EVERY FUCKING TIME.

    Moshtix (from Australia) also looks to be making an entrance in NZ. I hope either they or Eventfinder kick Ticketek and Ticketmaster to the curb.

  3. Simon says:

    Use “Under the Radar” – all done in a flash, print your ticket out or stick it on your phone, done.

  4. Bill Bennett says:

    In New Zealand they are all bad. It’s another case of having inappropriate technology foisted on us from afar.

    I’ve had some bad experiences with buying tickets from The Edge in Auckland.

    The last two times I ordered online, the tickets were couriered to me. On both occasions I was at home, but the lazy couriers left “while you were out” cards.

    Now lazy couriers are another story entirely. But for the first set of tickets, the courier note was left on the day of the concert. So I had a 90-minute trip across town to the courier depot to pick up and then a row about not having the right ID on my at the depot. The whole experience spoiled the event, something that otherwise would have been a great night out.

    When I whinged to the Edge about the courier experience, it was clear the person on the other end of the line had heard my story 100 times before – and didn’t care. I doubt if anyone is reporting these whinges back to senior management.

    It would have been easier to go to the office in person and but the tickets. Surely that misses the entire point of online ticketing.

    If I buy tickets online, how about an option of picking them up from the Edge ticket office?

  5. David Preece says:

    You know we have a local startup doing ticketing?

    http://www.dazzletickets.co.nz/tickets/

  6. Glen Barnes says:

    We have way more than just Event Finder.

    We have iTicket, Under the Radar, Dazzle and probably some more I don’t know about. In typical NZ fashion we have way to many startups targeting a small market in NZ.

    Event Finder are in a strong position as they are pretty aggressive when it comes to competition. I expect this category to thin out like the DVD’s by post market did. Maybe some mergers within the next 12-24 months.

  7. rich says:

    Limited barriers to entry. Anyone who can get a merchant account can be a ticketing firm. No real network advantage unlike auctions.

  8. Clare Kelso says:

    Please support us and Eventfinder because both our companies seem to care about the end client. It’s sooo much cheaper and so far they have been great to deal with. See you at our shows at Comedy Festival – “Sex. Lies and Improvise” and “Bite Me” Laff On!

  9. Mikee says:

    Ticketek usability makes me want to pull my hair out.
    Drives me crazy that having registered and then trying to remember my login every time that I then still have to fill in my details and credit card number.
    I hope the site Die Die Dies.

  10. Perrin says:

    Possibly the most egregious example at the moment: wanting to buy a $16 ticket to one of the Comedy Festival shows, and having to pay a $5 “service fee” to download and print out the ticket myself.

    I want to see some of these shows but not badly enough to suffer buying the tickets from Ticketek.

  11. Well, I know the Ticket websites are awful for clipping-the-ticket on the way through and TicketTek is probably just as bad as the rest but have you ever taken a look at Hoyts website for purchasing tickets?

    It is fairly easy to purchase a ticket from Hoyts but I cannot understand why they charge a fee for doing so. After all, if I turn up at the cinema and buy one there, on a credit card, I don’t have to pay an extra dollar per ticket for the privilege. Do you have any idea what is driving them to grab an extra buck off me?

  12. elliot says:

    Nice one Lance. Agree that TicketTek sux and Event Finder doesn’t. Also agree on guest options for shopping, our customers dig it. Over 70% shop as guests.

    I wish they would text tickets to phones. They could use that fancy bar coding technology, just hold up your phone to the laser thing and your in, too easy, staffless, safe (if your phone doesn’t fun out of battery of course)

    Though nothing wireless electricity wont be able to suss for us sooner or later.

  13. Ticketek have not covered themselves in glory with their early social media activities so your comments about institutional inability to change are spot on

    http://halfpie.net/article/238/ticketek

    In this case they got boingboinged…
    http://boingboing.net/2004/08/16/ticketeks_pr_blunder.html

    Eventfinder have done a good job here – and they have a sweetheart deal on the real content through the government, which is the events as opposed to the venues. They should do well, especially if they can do some QR code ticketing

  14. And if someone could tell me why Dazzle won $70k worth of stuff as the best startup at Planet 2010 that would be helpful. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/small-business/news/article.cfm?c_id=85&objectid=10635472I can’t see the secret sauce that would make them competitive.

    They seem young and enthusiastic – and probably about to be taken out as Glen suggests….

  15. Glen Barnes says:

    @miki One of the reasons Dazzle won was that you could only enter if you were part of an incubator. Self funded startups such as My Tours couldn’t even enter. I hope next year they run a real startup challenge and allow any startup to at least submit an entry.

  16. Sean Smith says:

    I’ll start this by saying I don’t work for Ticketek, but I did when their current site was developed for both AU and NZ. There are many criticisms leveled at Ticketek, some of which have some validity, but there are a lot of constraints that are unseen to the uninformed.

    A few simple facts:

    - Small ticketing companies cannot afford millions of dollars of technology investment to fit out the access systems for stadiums and big venues. These costs annually add up to tens of millions of dollars of upfront and ongoing expenses.
    - Scanners simply cannot get 50K+ people into a stadium in 60 mins. Great for an outdoor festival with access drip feeding all day. Not good for the Bledisloe Cup. Neither are door-staff with clip-boards.
    - Ticket revenue is not Ticketek’s, but the promoters. The fees charged aren’t just to recoup postage, but the many millions of dollars of technology investment required across hundreds of large venues. I can assure you that the profit margin on a ticket is thin – much thinner than you may expect.
    - The increased conversion rate of not forcing membership is far outweighed by the LTV of a marketable member, in any business. It may not be the very best purchase experience, but it does lead to increased sales volumes over time for all event promoters. It also means that events can be cross-promoted across other event’s customers – something an individual promoter cannot do.
    - There is definitely an online ticket option, which is in fact Ticketek’s preferred method of delivery. However a promoter has to choose to have it depending on the access system they are using for their venue.
    - All ticket delivery methods have costs associated. “Venue pick-up” has staffing costs which Ticketek funds. Tickets themselves require expensive stock and even more expensive specialist printers & networking infrastructure. Online tickets are cheaper to produce but still have on-costs such as R&D and infrastructure. Couriers of various flavours differ in price depending on where they are delivering to.

    I’m not saying their offering is perfect, and certainly there are aspects from both a B2C and B2B perspective that could be improved. However bashing ticket companies is an old game that rehashes the same arguments without a deeper understanding of the complex relationships between ticket sellers, promoters, venues and customers (there’s not enough room here to even begin that subject).

    Ticketing the big events is a lot more than a nice website with a few useful tools and cheap fees. It involves gate access systems, anti-scalping measures, client reporting systems, management of varying revenue streams for promoters and venues, large scale website traffic management, ticket security, enormous banking gateways, offline and online marketing, media planning and much much more.

  17. Nick says:

    Excellent overview and couldn’t agree more. The sooner monopolistic Ticketek lose their grip on distribution in New Zealand the better. I can’t remember how I even began subscribing to your blog but I’m very glad I did, excellent articles, thanks.

  18. Pingback: More Developers, Less Salespeople | Sell Tickets Online with Eventfinder Pro

  19. Two years later and apparently nothing has changed. Found your blog after using Ticketek for the first time and being thwacked an $8.25 “transaction fee” for a small community production. The hell?

    The registration page is also indeed downright painful and somewhat unnecessary.

  20. Pingback: Eventfinda HQ » More Developers, Less Salespeople

  21. Sideswipe says:

    I think the biggest problem with Ticketek is the design of the tickets. They’re just so dull and repetitive. Rugby tickets shouldn’t look 99% similar to wine festivals.

  22. Mary says:

    Now ticketek have started selling tickets in “secret fan pre-sales” more than a year in advance of a concert. My money, earning interest in their bank. I think this stinks!

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