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Secondary Ticketing: The fightback

Secondary Ticketing: The fightback

Chair:  Olaf Furniss, Born to be Wide (UK)

Guest speakers included:
Stuart Galbraith, Kilimanjaro Live (UK)
Sebastian Ott, MCT Agentur GmbH (DE)
Russ Tannen, DICE (UK)
Claire Turnham MBE, Victim of Viagogo (UK)
Reg Walker, The Iridium Consultancy (UK)

For many years the topic of secondary ticketing has been debated at the ILMC without any solution in sight. But this panel aimed to show there’s been some huge leaps forward in tackling the issue.

Stuart Galbraith of UK promoter Kilimanjaro told the room about his firm’s efforts to stop the touts reselling tickets to a recent Ed Sheeran tour. He said the artists wanted to prevent his tickets being resold after seeing passes for a charity show he was playing being resold for up to £3,500 each – with none of the money going to the charity.

Galbraith explained the company took legal advice and produced terms and conditions that explicity forbid resale of tickets, and that these were strongly communicated to fans and resale sites. “We explained we would cancel tickets that we found being resold,” he said, adding all resale companies agreed not to list the tickets, except Viagogo.

Using the services of security expert Reg Walker from Iridium, they uncovered thousands of tickets that had been bought by touts, cancelled them and resold them to the public at face value. At the concerts he offered the people who had bought tickets from Viagogo a ‘refusal of entry’ certificate so they could claim refund from the Viagogo.

It was a lot of work but proved to be a big success, he said.

Claire Turnham from Victim of Viagogo said she’d set up her organisation after buying tickets from Viagogo and being hugely overcharged for them. After she successfully won a refund, she wanted to help others and has since been helping people all over the world. “We are 14,000 members strong and have reclaimed back over £1m for fans,” she said. “By joining together we’ve shown we can bring about change.”

Walker said there’s been significant rise in attacks on UK ticketing systems from North American and European actors. Much of the activity is linked to organised crime.

“By joining together we’ve shown we can bring about change.”

Among his advice for event organisers was to use paperless tickets, which are less portable for the tout but not the consumer. “Tell the touts what you’re doing,” he advised, as this often puts them off. But, he counselled, you have to follow through with your threats. It’s also important to tell the public what you’re doing and why.

He also suggested putting tickets on sale on a Saturday morning when most people are off work. This dilutes the number of touts.

Russ Tannen from ticketing company Dice suggested that the answer is mobile tickets locked to a device. “The tech exists now to stop touts,” he said.

The panel expressed concern about the dominance of large ticketing firms, which they felt reduced consumer choice and could put up ticketing fees. Galbraith said Europe’s competitive market is keeping down fees, whereas in North America, they can be up to 30%.

“The end is in sight for secondary ticketing,” concluded Walker. “The way tech is going primary ticketers can stop it.”