Ticketmaster: taking a proactive political position

Last week, Ticketmaster UK announced that it would be closing its ticket resale sites in October in a bid to combat ticket touting. Ticketmaster have not listed any new events on Get Me In and Seatwave since Monday 13th August.

The decision comes a month after the Irish government banned the resale of tickets at above face value. Ticketmaster’s action could therefore be seen as a proactive step. Has it managed to avoid draconian measures should the UK Government decide to impose a similar law? There are already signs that the time could be right to get out of the market, as  the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority recently reviewed the online ticket resale market and may proceed with legal action against Ticketmaster’s competitor, Viagogo.

It seems that Ticketmaster is trying to get ahead of the game. While its resale sites GetMeIn and Seatwave are closing, it will offer a resale option through its main website. It hopes this will not only impress the Government, but also customers. The proactive choice should lower the at times exploitative prices for fans, who have recently been using Ticketmaster less. Many customers had already begun choosing to buy tickets through competitor Twickets, for example. Twickets don’t allow resale prices to be more than 10% higher than face value. The maximum price on Ticketmaster’s new resale function will be the original price paid, including any booking fees.

Whatever the outcomes, this seems to be an example of good leadership – a topic GK recently published a blog on. Rather than having to react to a crisis, Ticketmaster sensed the growing number of complaints about ticket touting. They acted before it escalated into a reputational issue for the company. Perhaps this is because the business has recently suffered a number of crises, such as a data breach in June when 40,000 British customers may have had their credit card details stolen. To solve this crisis, it has provided affected customers with a free 12-month identity monitoring service. This fix was likely at a high cost to the business, which it would want to avoid in the future.

Ticketmaster, of course, it not the first company to make proactive decisions. However, many firms continue to use reactive policy, only dealing with an issue when it has become a problem. At GK, we have worked with many businesses to predict what may lay ahead and help them avoid rough waters. We offer services such as parliamentary monitoring which allow firms to understand which political discussions may affect them.

Ticketmaster’s decision to restructure how ticket resales work evidences the importance of knowing what is being discussed in Parliament. Labour MPs, such as Sharon Hodgson, have been attempting to push legislation on this issue since the Government passed the Consumer Rights Act through Parliament in 2015. However, the recent focus on secondary ticketing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and particularly the DCMS Select Committee, have applied pressure on companies such as Ticketmaster to address issues in this market. This demonstrates the great influence that Parliament holds. While legislative measures in last year’s Digital Economy Act meant that some direct action was taken, the work by the DCMS Committee and backbench MPs is a good example of where political scrutiny from Parliament can lead to significant pressure for change in the business world.

In conclusion, Ticketmaster’s decision to close down Get Me In and Seatwave shows the great influence that parliament has, without a bill being passed. The Government now have one of the biggest ticket retailers in the world on their side regarding ticket touting. However, it is also a positive move for Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster now is one of the most attractive ticket resale outlets for those looking for sold out event tickets, as they are adding no extra cost. It is likely to build them an even bigger customer base and keep customers happy too. It seems to be a good outcome for everyone involved, government, company and customer – just not the ticket touts!

To find out more about what GK can do for you, email charlotte@gkstrategy.com

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