With people feeling more comfortable going to public events again, the travails consumers suffer when trying to purchase tickets are coming front and center. Last week TicketNews reported that President Biden is urging Congress to pass legislation limiting excessive fees and mandating transparency about hold back practices.
The issue of high fees that are often hidden until you are well into the purchasing process is pretty well-known and complained about. Hold backs on the other hand, are less obvious and more in the realm of a suspected, but not confirmed practice.
While companies like Ticketmaster and Live Nation regularly blame ticket resale or “bots” for the enormous spike in ticket prices consumers are paying, many believe that price inflation by hiding the true available supply through holdbacks is the biggest factor in that price surge, with the industry hoping to sell consumers and lawmakers on resale being the issue rather than their own deceptive practices.
Support for President Biden’s plan was also put forward by the National Association of Ticket Brokers, a trade group supporting ticket resale rights and consumer-friendly policy. Its statement specifically called out the “scheme called slow ticketing” used by Ticketmaster and Live Nation to hold back huge portions of tickets for most events without disclosure when tickets go on sale. Once the public is convinced that tickets are sold out, additional tickets are slowly released to the market, leading to a perceived yet artificial scarcity that convinces consumers to pay surged prices – referring to the process as a deceptive marketing practice.
Transparency and fair pricing may be a bigger issue in the attendance decision than we may realize. Among recent online reviews of my venue, comments about fair pricing and low fees appear multiple times.
It bears paying attention to public sentiment and how lawmakers move to resolve these growing concerns.
Perception of practices by some of the larger operators are so poor that suspicions may be raised about the entire event industry, painting everyone with the same brush. Engaging in relatively straightforward demand based or dynamic pricing practices may easily get lumped in with attempts at artificial manipulation, shunting tickets directly to resale markets and excessive fees.