Today we’re excited to announce three important changes to the way we interact with you.
How We Present Pricing and Fees
We get it – you don’t like service fees. You don’t like them mostly because you don’t understand what the heck they are for. We’ll try to do a better job in this space over the coming months of helping you understand our business, and how our fees compare to others in the industry (both in ticketing and ecommerce in general). But the reality of the live entertainment business is that service fees have become an extension of the ticket price. Most of the parties in the live event value chain participate in these service fees either directly or indirectly – promoters, venues, teams, artists, and yes, ticketing companies – and service fee rebates are our largest annual expense at Ticketmaster.
All of the research we’ve done, and all of our conversations with fans like you tell us that the way we present these fees in the check out process is a huge frustration for you and hurts ticket sales. You just want to know UP FRONT in the buying process how much of your hard earned money you are being asked to pay for a given seat. If we are as transparent as possible with you sooner in the purchase process, you can make the decision about how much you want to pay to go to an event. The problem is that historically we haven’t told you how much you have to pay for a given seat until very late in the buying process. And our data tells us this angers many of you to the point that you abandon your purchase once you see the total cost, and that you don’t come back. The data also says (and this is the important piece) that if we had told you up front what the total cost was, you would have bought the ticket! So by perpetuating this antiquated fee presentation, fans are getting upset, while we and our clients are losing ticket sales.
This practice changes today. Over the next few days we are rolling out a new way of presenting pricing and fees on Ticketmaster.com. Going forward, just like almost every other business in the world, we’ll tell you up front how much you can expect to pay for a certain ticket. We’ll still break out the “face value” from the other fees where required, and we haven’t broken down per-order fees yet (although you will begin to see many of our clients move to truly all-in pricing, because they know it sells more tickets and makes you happier). This user experience mirrors what you see across the web from leaders in their field – Amazon, Apple, Expedia, Zappos and more. It’s not complicated, it’s just the right thing to do.
We are the leader in the industry, and so we are accountable for taking the initiative to drive industry change. We take that responsibility very seriously, and at the new Ticketmaster we wake up every day obsessing over the fan experience. We think this change is a big step toward creating pricing transparency that is good for fans, and thus good for business. We hope it arms you up front with the info you need to decide how you want to experience the incredible live events we sell on Ticketmaster.com. You can see the new layout here (http://bit.ly/a1IZHU). We’re looking forward to your feedback!
Ps – after this week you may see a few events on Ticketmaster.com that have the old pricing presentation…this is most likely because in a select few cases our contracts with venues prevent us from making this change. We’re working with these clients to help them see the benefits, and are confident they’ll want to join in! Almost all of our clients are enthusiastically supportive of this change. Stay tuned…
The 3 Day Return Policy in Live Nation Venues
If we could, we and our clients would happily offer a no-hassle refund policy. We’d like you to be able to buy tickets and have the flexibility to return them at any time in case your plans change. But as you know, our product is a little different than most others that are sold online – it is perishable, and often exists only in very limited supply. One of the additional challenges in the live event business is that we as an industry often don’t price our inventory properly relative to what consumers are willing to pay. Sometimes we price it too high, sometimes we price it too low. We’ll talk a lot more about pricing and our initiatives in this space in the coming months, but this pricing issue has historically made it very difficult for us to offer a no-hassle refund policy. If we offered full refunds at any time, we’d be encouraging ticket brokers to snatch up all the inventory and try to sell it to you for as much as possible, knowing they could refund it with no risk. You would come to Ticketmaster.com, see that an event was sold out, and never come back. Tickets would likely go unsold, and you would probably miss an event you’d love to attend. That’s not good for anyone.
But we’ve got to try something, because we want to give you every reason in the world to buy a ticket. So Live Nation is putting its money where its mouth is, and introducing a new return policy in case you get cold feet. If you buy a ticket in a venue operated by Live Nation (http://bit.ly/97JJkV ), you now have three days to return it, up until one week before the show. We cut this off a week before the show because we need some time to be able to sell that ticket to someone else in case you choose to return it. We’re not pretending we have this perfect, and the policy will probably be subject to some iterations and improvements. But we hope that at a minimum it encourages you to go ahead and buy those tickets, knowing that if your plans suddenly change, or one of your friends bails out the next day, you can return what you need to within three days worry-free. We’ll be watching very carefully to see if the policy is exploited by brokers to your detriment, but we think as a starting point this is a pretty good balance for fans. At Ticketmaster, we’re inviting ALL of our venue clients to join into this policy if it works for them – we’ll handle the customer care at no additional cost. We’ll keep you posted, and welcome your feedback on how we can make it better.
As you can now hopefully tell, our plan is to use this space going forward as a place to write about the industry, our business, and our fans. Please check back often or sign up for our Twitter feed or Facebook page to get notified when we post new updates.
Thanks for reading!
CEO – Ticketmaster