Ticketmaster Announces New Pricing System

26 Aug

Ticketmaster is moving toward an all-in pricing model and has begun to roll out a number of customer service initiatives to improve its image. Ticketmaster’s CEO for Ticketing Nathan Hubbard announced that the company is launching a new transparent pricing model for most of its events, and gave more details about the company’s new three-day return policy.

Hubbard shared the news on Ticketmaster’s new blog Ticketology (blog.ticketmaster.com), which Hubbard hopes will improve the company’s image with the public.

Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation earlier this year, is rolling out an up-front ticket pricing system that tells fans the final price of a ticket while browsing the site. Hubbard uses an upcoming Jack Johnson concert as an example — as fans browse over an interactive map, they are presented with an estimated price that combines the price of the ticket with the ticketing fees.

“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,” Hubbard wrote in a letter to customers on Monday. “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.”

Hubbard was careful not to call the system “All-In Pricing” because it still has a few limitations. Per order fees and shipping fees are still tacked on to the end of the purchase.

Ticketmaster “can’t boil all fees down to a per ticket fee until we know how many tix are bought and the shipping method chosen, so it has to happen later,” CEO Irving Azoff later wrote on Twitter.

Hubbard said the system won’t be rolled out across all venues because of contractual issues, but by the end of the week, most events will use the new pricing system. Hubbard also gave more details about the company’s new 3-Day Return Policy.

“If you buy a ticket in a venue operated by Live Nation, you now have three days to return it, up until one week before the show,” he wrote.  “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.”

Hubbard said he plans to carefully monitor the system to make sure it’s not exploited by ticket brokers, and invited other venue clients to adopt similar policies.

“We’ll handle the customer care at no additional cost,” he wrote.

Michael Marion from the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., said his facility was one of three to test the new system during a trial run that began in April, and he’s only gotten positive response from fans.

“When I was in L.A., they pitched the plan to me and I thought it was a great idea,” Marion said, adding that Ticketmaster handled the implementation of the new system without much outside help.

The news brought a seven-percent spike in the share price of Live Nation, which had been battered by reports of lowered earnings in recent months.

“This is a sign that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are beginning to take some of their public relations problems seriously,” said Mark Mahany, an analyst with firm Piper Jaffry. “There’s hope that this move will improve their overall ticket sales and recapture some declining ticket sales.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Nathan Hubbard, (310) 867-7000; Michael Marion, (806) 378-9471; Mark Mahany, (415) 951-1744

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