secondary ticketing

New survey reflects public concern on secondary ticketing

Toutsout FanFair

FanFair is the driving force behind #toutsout campaign. Photo credit Kirsten Holst

A new consumer survey has revealed the depth of public concern with mass scale ticket touting taking place on so-called secondary ticketing platforms such as Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave.

Commissioned by FanFair Alliance, with support from UK companies See Tickets, The Ticket Factory and Twickets, its findings show that 80 per cent of the British public consider secondary ticketing to be a “rip off”.

Meanwhile, the majority of people who purchase above-face-value tickets on secondary platforms are less likely to spend money on other live events, on at-venue purchases (drink, food, merchandise) and on recorded music.

Other key findings include:

  • 52% of respondents said it was difficult to distinguish between authorised primary ticket sellers and unauthorised secondary sites
  • 43% of respondents said Google was their first port of call to search for tickets. This is despite previous FanFair research showing that secondary sites systematically pay to top search rankings. Viagogo has drawn particular criticism for advertising itself on Google as an “official site”
  • 58% of respondents said they supported the concept of face value resale
  • 82% of respondents said that secondary platforms should be more transparent and show more detail about the identity of those re-selling tickets
  • The vast majority of respondents support precautionary measures to prevent ticket touting, including the provision of authorised resale services (87%), limiting ticket purchases (80%), and personalised tickets with ID checks (75%)

Ticket resale market

“The debate around online ticket touting raises strong passions, so it’s important that the wider music business, politicians and regulators can get a sense of what the general public think,” said Adam Webb, FanFair Alliance campaign manager.

Webb said the message from this research is clear: UK audiences “are fed up”. “The model of secondary ticketing promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave is causing them very real concern – albeit, they are not against the concept of ticket resale.

“The majority would like the option to resell a ticket for the price they paid for it, and they’re in favour of measures to curb mass-scale online ticket touting. On that front, FanFair urges legislators and regulators to accelerate their endeavours to tackle the most egregious practices of the secondary market.”

Webb also noted that an increasing number of UK ticket companies are now offering face value resale services and that it’s becoming common practice for artists to implement anti-touting strategies.

“This is hugely encouraging, although there remains a deep-rooted resistance from some parts of the live business that needs to be overcome,” Webb explained. “For while the status quo might bring short-term gains to certain companies, there is a real danger that their intransigence will cause considerable long-term damage – not only to the live music sector, but across the music business overall.”

The research comes on the back of considerable political and regulatory pressure to make ticket resale work better for British audiences. In April 2017, Government passed new legislation to criminalise the mass online harvesting of tickets by touts, as well as new measures to bolster existing UK consumer law and provide enforcement resources for National Trading Standards.

Amidst two evidence sessions into “ticket abuse”, Damian Collins MP, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, described the UK’s secondary ticketing market as a “national scandal”. Despite being invited, Viagogo failed to show to the second of these sessions.

A Competition and Markets Authority enforcement investigation into online secondary ticketing, announced in December 2016, remains ongoing.

The survey was conducted by AudienceNet, a full service social and consumer research agency alongside music industry consultancy Music Ally.

The FanFair Alliance was established to unite members of music and creative community who wish to take a stand against industrial-scale online ticket touting.

The full report can be downloaded from the FanFair Alliance website.

Tickets please

Access speaks to five ticketing companies on the influence of tech and the issues in the secondary market

Behind the excitement of purchasing a ticket for an event or a festival, ticketing companies are advising and leading the industry.

Without the secure sales of music and live event tickets or the support from ticketing associations combating the secondary ticketing market like FanFair Alliance, this side of the business can fall under the radar. But Access sat down with leading ticketing companies to ask our burning questions to gain an insight on the advance of the sector. But first we asked them to talk to us more about what they offer for the live events scene.

“TICKETsrv provides cost effective online e-ticket sales for events and attractions combined with onsite ticket scanning as a complete out-of- the-box solution,” says Sally-Ann Jay, sales and marketing director at TICKETsrv, the e-ticketing solution company for outdoor events.

“With nearly 40 years’ experience in the live events industry,” says Stuart Cain, The Ticket Factory MD. “The Ticket Factory sells for a variety of events ranging from comedy, concerts and sporting events, to exhibitions, theatre performances and visitor attractions.” Cain explains to Access that the Ticket Factory provides solutions with bespoke products and services with a customer-first approach. “We focus on technology and digital marketing backed by exceptional service and operational delivery.”

“The Ticket Factory adds further value through its creative marketing approach,” Cain adds.

“In 2008, I founded Ticket Arena to provide consumers and gig-promoters with a better
way to buy and sell tickets online,” says Reshad Hossenally, MD at Ticket Arena. “Over the years that have followed, the company has developed its own online platform called Event Genius, and has increased its market share to become one of the largest online ticket agents and event technology providers in the UK.” Th
e business of Ticket Arena is split into two brands. Ticket Arena and Event Genius, which is the industry technology and services side of the business.

On the radar

“Intellitix provides festivals and live events with game-changing tech solutions that increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve the guest’s experience,” explains Eric Janssen, chief revenue officer at Intellitix, Motreal. But the company has offices situated in Toronto and Chatham, as well as representatives across the globe.

“We’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest and best events including Tomorrowland, Coachella, Comic-Con, and UEFA Champions Festival,” Janssen adds.

“We tend to work with the outdoor events sector,” says Jay. “Large agricultural and county shows where traditionally secondary ticketing hasn’t been an issue. For events where secondary ticketing is a problem, tickets can be assigned to a single name ticket-holder so that photo ID can be checked on the gate.”

Eventbrite is a leading platform with nearly three million events powered around the world each year. “We process two to three million tickets every week,” explains Marino Fresch, marketing director at Eventbrite UK.

“Hundreds of thousands of organisers, like Showmasters, Telegraph Events, The Guardian, WOMAD music festival and many more, use Eventbrite to boost ticket sales, promote and manage events, handle onsite operations, and analyse results across multiple sales channels,” Fresch adds.

The conversation of technology is one that everyone 
in this industry
 has an opinion about, and with good reason. These are the companies that the advance and influence of technology directly reflect upon.
 Jay tells Access that for events, TICKETsrv can now see up to 67 per cent of advanced tickets being purchased on a mobile device. “The mobile revolution is already here. Mobile optimised sites and super-easy purchasing are a must for today’s events. It’s just a case of events getting them organised and ensuring they are up to speed as soon as they can.” This means an increase and heavy focus on that particular sector, to make it quicker for customers to book on the go.

“There are a number of technology solutions that we have enabled to help service our larger event organisers,” explains Fresch. “We partner with peer-to-peer exchange platforms and continue to explore other partnerships that help fans sell tickets they no longer need, and secure tickets at fair prices. It is crucial to understand where, when and how to meet potential ticket buyers today.”

“The average event can expect up to 20 per cent of sales to come through social media channels,” adds Fresch. “The significant number allows both ticketing suppliers and organisers of live and outdoor events that the audience they target are often influenced though their screens.”

“The speed and adoption of new technology
has been transformative for the ticketing industry in delivering greater efficiency and profits,” says Hossenally. Technology that offers benefits can be massive for organisers who are trying to remain pro table in the face of rising costs. In the race to provide the best possible technology and services for organisers to use, it often goes unsaid just how much money and time is spent on research, design and development on the technology that they are provided with.”

“Ticket agents are now faced with the need to continually adapt and update software to block fraudulent activity without damaging the sales process for genuine fans,” explains Cain. “We’re fighting a war with ticket touts on a daily basis and have invested significant resource into trying to combat malicious bots and to educate our customers about the importance of buying from STAR approved sellers.”

Hossenally explains tactics that Ticket Arena have introduced in a bid to battle the touts. “Our fair queuing technology for high demand events helps protect us from the automated bots that online ticket touts use, and we are currently developing our own innovative tout beating solution to tackle the issue in a way that’s fair to fans and promoters,” adds Hossenally. “We’ve also been vocal supporters and signatories of FanFair’s campaign to create stronger legislation to protect fans and consumers from the pitfalls that have emerged with the secondary market.”

A stronger system

“We empower event organisers to sell more tickets, to improve the marketing for their
events, allow for faster access control and cashless payments, and we provide organisers with real time and in-depth intelligence on their events and attendee,” says Fresch.“The secondary ticketing issue widely discussed today is focused on large sports and music events held in huge venues and arenas. These events are the most attractive to commercial resellers looking to profit from the high demand for tickets. These customers are largely outside the scope of our customer base, and therefore not an issue for us today. That said, as leaders in ticketing, we care about this deep- rooted industry issue.”

“Our technology has definitely changed
 the ticketing sector for good,” adds Fresch. In 2006, when Eventbrite began, the industry saw the ticketing market dominated by less than a handful of providers. “We took modern online technology and developed a professional yet affordable ticketing service for mid-sized and long-tail event. For the first time, an organiser could just go online, set up their event and start selling tickets.”

“There are so many ways that tech is infiltrating live events – access control, VR, social media, cashless payments – and guests are embracing it. Not only that, but they expect it. They want to be wowed by a cool experiential activation. They want to use their phone or wristband as a ticket. They want to leave their wallet at home and use their wristband to pay for beers,” says Janssen. But he believes there is a better way.

He believes that event organisers and consumers are frustrated with secondary ticketing and ticket fraud. “But we have a solution. RFID is not only the solution to ticket fraud, it comes with countless other benefits as well. If you want to get guests in the door quicker so they can start buying food, beer, and merch – then you need RFID. This is the future of live events and it’s happening now,” continues Janssen.

“We wish organisers knew how simple and timesaving their ticketing should really be,” says Jay on behalf of TICKETsrv as she describes her most treasured corners of the sector. “The outdoor events sector is the most vibrant, exciting sector to be in. There really is nothing like helping organisers get the most out of their ticketing, helping to increase sales year on year and that feeling on the morning of the show as the buzz builds before happy customers are scanned into their favourite events.

“We work with such a wide range of events – sports, concert and music 
events, conferences, 
food, wine, and beer festivals. There’s never a dull moment,” agrees Janssen.

Working in events, specifically outdoor, it’s undeniable that the opportunities arise for everyday office days are quite extreme. Attending a festival and calling it work is something that it an odd obstacle to overcome. The same goes for those working to get that festival together, like the ticketing companies that work closely with these events.

Fresch tells Access quite simply that ticketing is more than the transaction of a ticket purchase. “We help people find events to discover new passions, and to fuel existing ones. We help organisers sell more tickets, and in turn grow their events. We help grow live experiences and ultimately, we help bring the world together through live experiences.”

“The excitement and energy is the best thing about this industry. There’s nothing like the thrill of helping organisers put on a great show for their customers and us providing all our technological services to make the event better for them and their customers,” concludes Hossenally.

Taking down the touts

With the topic of secondary ticketing at an all-time high in the industry, two ticket sales companies give Access an inside view

Reshad Hossenally


“Fans are only going to become increasingly savvy about which companies offer certain resale platforms”

THE outcry about the inflated prices and fees charged by some secondary ticket sellers has created more press and political scrutiny on the entire ticketing industry. This has increased fan demand for fairer ways to purchase and sell tickets and has prompted a shift in our plans. We are now actively investing in, and developing our own tout and fraud beating technology, together with an ethical reselling solution that actually addresses the problem correctly, working for both promoters, artists and fans.

With the superb work done by groups like FanFair, plus performing artists in highlighting the issues with reselling, fans are only going to become increasingly savvy about which companies offer certain resale platforms, and where they
can go to make an ethical purchase. For an independent ticketing technology company and seller like Ticket Arena and Event Genius, that’s a natural shift to our offering; fans will know they can buy tickets from us with a clear conscience.

We welcome the moves made by the Government to try and create a fairer ticketing market for fans. We’ve been working closely with FanFair to lend
our voice and support to its campaign. While there is more work to be done, especially against the online touts who abuse the system, we all want to give fans easy access to the information they need to make an informed purchase.

Stuart Cain


“These are global, well-financed organisations and cyber-warriors that we’re dealing with”

TICKET touting has evolved drastically over the years. It’s no longer the stereotypical ‘dodgy dealer’ trying to flog you a ticket outside the venue – these are global, well- nanced organisations and cyber-warriors that we’re dealing with. The systematic pillaging of tickets by touts using malicious software to harvest tickets and sell them on at inflated prices via the secondary ticketing market is diverting revenue from the UK’s live events industry – already under threat from a lack of funding – and lining the pockets of touts with no intention of investing in the industry.

As the topic comes under increased scrutiny and is debated in government, we have also seen expectations shift with campaign groups like FanFair Alliance asking promoters and agents to help raise awareness of the risks of purchasing tickets from secondary sites – whether it’s promoters specifying authorised ticket sellers on artist websites, or ticket agents offering face value resale options.

Artists, ticket agents and promoters across the industry have really come together on this issue and we’re united in the fight against touts and secondary sites. For too long a lack of legislation has seen fans being ripped off, while also diverting revenues from the creative economy.

While the fans are the immediate victims, not taking action today will damage the industry irreparably in years to come. So, with the Government’s passing 
of the Digital Economy Act and the amendments to the Consumer Rights Act, comes the acknowledgment that the tide is beginning to turn.


Ticket Zone joins FanFair Alliance

Ticketing service provider, Ticket Zone, has joined FanFair Alliance, the campaign against industrial-scale online ticket touting.

Ticket Zone has signed FanFair’s declaration against online ticket touts. The campaign take action to ensure face value tickets reach fans and outlines measures to disrupt the practices of online ticket touting.

“This is a really important issue, with over 35 years in the industry we have seen industrial-scale touting rise over the past few years,” said Wayne Munday, chief operating officer for Ticket Zone.

“As an industry it’s really important we work together to make the ticketing market more transparent and fairer. Joining FanFair Alliance will help us to achieve that aim,” Munday added.

Petition launches against ticket touts in Spain

The petition, organised by the president of the Bruce Springsteen fan club in Spain, Joan Colet, has been launched in order to raise awareness to the Spanish government into legislating against ticket touting.

The fan club, known as the ‘Stone Pony Club’, demands that the Spanish Congress and Government legislate against companies, websites and individuals who resell concert tickets about face value.

By using the hashtag #stopticketabuse to promote the cause, the campaign aims to get 500,000 signatures be able to trigger a law allowing the petitioners to make their case directly to the Spanish congress.

“Live music fans need a government ban on the resale for profit of live music tickets, so that we can return to buying tickets at their agreed price, without risk of being ripped off,” said Joan Colet.

Touts have been accused of selling fake and duplicate tickets on secondary ticketing websites Seatwave, Stubhub and Viagogo.

“I have created this petition in order to gather the 500,000 signatures that will allow me to present our case to make Congress, the Government, and the Judiciary take the necessary legislative and judicial measures so as to end the robbery of the real fans of live music by a few unscrupulous people who profit at their expense,” added Colet.

Couple with fraud past found reselling tickets via Seatwave

A husband and wife convicted in 2012 of £2m fraud have been listing thousands of pounds worth of tickets through secondary ticketing sites, the Guardian has found.

Michael Mayiger and Michelle Meiger’s names recently appeared as the sellers of tickets for the Ed Sheeran gig at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow via Seatwave, a resale website owned by Ticketmaster.

The couple were convicted four years ago of fraud after they admitted to obtaining and selling hundred of Premier League tickets, some of which did not actually exist.

Mayiger is one of Ticketmaster’s ‘trusted sellers’, meaning he has been assessed by the company. Ticketmaster’s UK chair, Chris Edmonds, told MPs last year that the firm had a zero-tolerance policy on fraud.

A Ticketmaster spokesperson told Access: “Our resale sites, GET ME IN! and Seatwave, are safe and secure marketplaces where individuals are able to buy and resell tickets, with all purchases backed by our industry-leading fan guarantee. The seller has sold tickets to music fans on our secondary ticketing platforms for many years legitimately without issue.”

But campaigners for ticket reform spoke out about the revelation.

“This is a perfect example of why transparency is necessary to ensure fans have all the information at their fingertips so they are not ripped off by touts with who are known ticket fraudsters,” said Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ticket abuse.

Seatwave has been under scrutiny by secondary ticketing critics in recent months: 200 fans were turned away from a Black Sabbath gig at The O2 in January 2017 after the London venue detected ticket fraud. The tickets had been bought via Seatwave.

Ticket Factory to cancel Adele tickets sold on secondary sites

The Ticket Factory has announced it will cancel Adele tickets that appear on secondary websites for resale.
Pre-sale tickets for the award-winning singer’s 2016 run sold out within ten minutes, with many immediately appearing on resale sites for up to £2,000.
Stuart Cain, managing director at The Ticket Factory, said: “We genuinely want to make sure that the tickets we sell fall into the hands of genuine fans and so if we are aware of any of our tickets making their way to a secondary site, we will take steps to cancel them.
“If customers do choose to buy them from secondary sites and they are found to originate from The Ticket Factory then they also run the risk of losing their money and being unable to attend the event and we will cancel those tickets where possible.”
 These measures are part of a government-coordinated effort to make secondary ticket sales more transparent.