As an enthusiast of all things live music and social media, a number of people pointed me in the direction of stories on Fast Company and Mashable regarding Ticketmaster’s new integration with Facebook. The gist of it is that ticket purchasers can opt-in to a new feature allowing your Facebook friends to see the exact seat location of your purchases for sporting events and concerts. This is available for the 300+ venues utilizing the pick-your-own-seat interactive seat map.
The immediate uproar in the comments section of the major blogs was that this is a stalker’s dream and typical concerns of privacy. These kneejerk reflexes are completely unfounded as the customer opts-in to this feature. Plus, you shouldn’t be Facebook friends with your stalkers anyway.
But here’s how I think it got it wrong and conversely how Ticketmaster could take a major bite out of how scalpers get all of the best tickets, something the company claims it tries to battle to the best of its abilities, despite ticket buyers having their doubts.
What if instead of having the social integration take place after the purchase occured, it happened before tickets went on sale? READ ON…
I see it working like this: Get as many of your Facebook friends to commit to this event as possible before the tickets go on sale, with no limit to the number of people you can include. Many events have ticket limits of four or eight, which supposedly is a deterrent to scalping, but won’t matter in this scenario. Here, ticketing priority automatically is given to those who participated in the Facebook integration by putting together a group of friends.
Sounds like a scalper’s dream: create a bunch of fake Facebook accounts and get priority access to tickets. But not if this was for a paperless ticketing system where credit cards or proof of identification were needed to be shown to enter the concert. I personally think that events that are 100% paperless are a pain the ass. Any number of scenarios can create a hassle: What if you have to cancel last minute, what if you want to gift a ticket to someone, etc? Instead, I am all for a plan which would allow customers to opt-in to this process to secure a group of tickets together. Under my plan, the benefit of this system – deterring scalpers – would outweigh the potential inconveniences of paperless ticketing. Tickets could be contingent upon a code only accessible via a person’s Facebook account and a matching ID presented at the door.
The way the system was launched seems to only work for very slow-selling not sold-out shows. If a friend buys tickets in Section 204, Row 11 seats 7 and 8, I would love to buy seats 9 and 10 directly next to him if they are available – but this will only work well after the initial on sale when hundreds of tickets are not being gobbled up by the second. If you’re not directly next to your friends it is arguably more frustrating to have them nearby but not next to you. “Oh, hey, there’s my friend Andy, I’d love to tell him share something, but he’s 20 seats away.”
My mind races at the positive benefits this dream system would enable. What if instead of the first ten rows at arena rock concerts being filled with those willing to spend a premium on the secondary ticket market, they were filled with large groups of the band’s biggest fans, those that got a group together and put in their request before tickets went on sale? What if scalpers could no longer use their sneaky (and potentially illegal) methods to snatch up the best tickets and resell them to you at a premium? What if this service was offered up at no additional cost but instead, customers actually felt like they were receiving something of value for the 20-30 percent convenience fees tacked on to every ticket.
Ticketmaster wants to brand itself as a more fan-friendly company but it has a long way to go. Basically, everyone hates Ticketmaster. I am intrigued and maybe even a little excited that it is trying to embrace social in a way that enhances the fan’s experience. I think it got it backwards. Build a system allowing all of this to take place before the dreaded on sale, instead of after the fact, and watch massive networks of friends commit to buying tickets, the best tickets, and you’ll know it’s them that are in the seats. Bands will know it’s their best fans in the front row and while we’re at we’ll fuck the scalpers too.
What do you think of the system DaveO proposed? Let us know by leaving a comment below.