Friday, September 08, 2006

communism and ticket "scalping"

In the USSR the government fixed prices on all commodities, how desirable an item was merely determined the length of the queue not the price. Today in the same manner when purchasing tickets for concerts and sporting events the desirability of a ticket determines the length of the queue not the price.

It seems to me that the solution to the "scalping" problem that has recently been described in many newspapers is to have the companies that sell the tickets run a public auction. The current situation is denying fans the option of paying more money to guarantee a ticket, denying the musicians the best payment for their services, and not serving the best interests of anyone except the scalpers!

Internet auctions are easy to setup, ebay even has online store facilities that any merchant can use - it would be easy for any company that is running a concert to sell all the tickets at auction through ebay. People who don't have the ability to access the Internet could pay an agent to bid for them so no-one would be excluded.

A well run ticket auction system would maximise revenue for the company selling the tickets and guarantee that fans can get tickets if they are prepared to pay enough. It would be best for everyone!

Some people with weird communist tendencies (the ones who want to emulate the least effective and useful aspects of the USSR) claim that the current ticket sales system (where all tickets are sold in 10 minutes to whoever queued for the longest time or phoned in at the right moment) allows poor people to purchase tickets at lower prices than an auction might deliver. What they fail to realise is that rich people pay others to queue for them, whether that is by paying scalpers who buy tickets in bulk or by paying one person to sit in a queue for them. There are people who are happy to sit in a queue for a few dollars per hour and people who pay them to stand in line.


Giacomo said...

You missed completely the problem. There was already some test on auctioning the tickets, but most of the times it failed.

#1 How to do the auction? You give all ticket to the same price? But this requires booking and complex rules (as you find in financial market, i.e. for IPO). IMHO it would to complex and there is some timing problem (early enough to organize travel if you are not from the right city? Or late so you can choose until the end).

Or you can make a lot of single auction, so at the end every ticket has a different price. But then the people are not happy and so also the artists (concert is not essential as bread!)

#2 Speculation. It happens also that few people buy a lot of tickets. Then they sell it at higher price. But they are not interested in selling all tickets. You can also speculate and sell only few tickes at very high price. So you will see a lot less people. And then the organizer will not be happy: they gain also on merchandising, beers,...

Don't expect that organizers and artists will do "fair price" because it is fair, but only because they will gain more.

[ And having "sold-out" is a good marketing strategies, to be covered in news, to tell other "users" to buy discs from this very good band, etc.

Anonymous said...

Another solution would be a lottery process. Rich or poor, everyone can then express interest in their own time. Some will win and some will miss out, and the rich will not be able to buy their way in, so it would be fairer. Of course, scalping could still occur after the lottery, but it would be for individual lots, so the scalper wouldn't benefit much. It also wouldn't help those who want to buy group lots for a whole army of family and friends that want to go together - that would then be a matter of pot luck. But then, an auction would have that same problem too, compounded by the increased hassle of the need to buy the multiple tickets over multiple uncertain auctions. There's no easy answer.