'Tis the season for scrambling for tickets!
Actually, you could argue that summer is the most competitive season for trying to buy events tickets. People have free time, big summer concerts and ballgames come to town, ticket reseller swarm in and buy up all available tickets, and you have a perfect storm that makes it very difficult to find tickets to sporting events or performances at an affordable price.
But you could also argue that fall is just as bad as, if not worse than, summer, what with the sudden explosion of college football, NFL, and MLB events that come with the season. And of course, the scalpers and resellers don't have an off season.
How much extra can it cause you to buy event tickets from the wrong source? Obviously, the biggest loss will come if you pay someone for a ticket that never materializes. But even going with a seemingly reputable name brand like Ticketmaster or StubHub can cost you big time. According to one investigation, sites like these have been found to mark up ticket prices by as much as 30%.
Yes, there's a reason why the online event ticketing industry is currently pulling in $5 billion in annual revenues.
But it doesn't have to be at your expense. If you're smart and know where to look, you can still find great, affordable tickets to events. To get started, try these six tips for getting great deals on event tickets:
What if you could get the drop on resellers before they have a chance to buy up all the tickets? Signing up for newsletters with sites like Ticketmaster or Ticketline will give you the heads-up on when pre- and on sale tickets are released.
You can get similar benefits from joining fan mailing lists from your favorite bands, with the added benefit of exclusive priority deals and offers that only their members get.
This is the best course of action for people who are looking for tickets to very specific events from specific teams or performing groups who want to make certain they get tickets.
If, on the other hand, you aren't 100% dedicated to getting tickets to a specific event, try the following.
Yes, that Craigslist. It turns out the granddaddy of online personal ads is still one of the best places to find good deals on event tickets, mostly because you have a higher chance of dealing with regular folks there, rather than professional resellers. But how to filter out the scalpers from the honest people?
"Only click on links that are designated as 'Tickets by Owner,'" suggests Ryan Glasspiegel at WonderHowTo. "You can even sort your search results as such."
Glasspiegel also recommends using Craigslist to scope out the terrain in terms of prices:
"Send out feeler emails to all of the sellers, even if their asking prices seem ridiculous. These people are not going to have the same discipline as scalpers as the event draws closer and will be more willing to negotiate with you in good faith."
That last part about waiting is so important that it bears repeating...
Of course, to go with this strategy, you can't be married to the idea of attending the event. You have to be ready to miss out, if it comes down that. Having said that, this tip is one of the most commonly shared in event ticketing circles. Why? Because like any sales situation, the closer the product comes to expiration, the more motivated the seller is to lower the price.
Ultimately, ticket sellers want to get rid of tickets, even if it means they don't pull in as big a profit as they might've liked. If you are willing to gamble a little and wait until the last few days or the day of, you just might end up getting a sweet deal.
"If you can hold out until the day before or day of an event you'll likely save money on tickets," says Thorin Klosowski at Lifehacker. "It's often not your best option, but if an event doesn't sell as well as it's supposed to, you'll find cheap deals."
Yes, I used the word 'gamble' purposely earlier. In this situation, you are playing a game of chicken. If your desired event ends up being in high demand, you could easily end up watching all the tickets get bought up and gambling yourself right out of the event.
This advice doesn't apply to sporting events, but to stage performances. The reasoning goes like this: if Justin Timberlake is going to play the House of Blues every night for a week, the first night is going to draw the biggest crowd. This increased demand automatically jacks up the price (stupid economics!).
Recommends UK Mirror writer Chantelle Symester, "If an artist is playing more than one date in a city avoid buying tickets to the first night as they're often the most expensive."
It's easy to become dependent on online ticketing sites. They make it so easy to get tickets, who wants to leave home and drive down to the box office to physically pick up tickets? That convenience is almost irresistible.
Almost. How much is that convenience costing you when you purchase tickets online? Definitely as much as you'll end up paying in service fees, transaction fees, or processing fees. Maybe more.
According to experts, when your options dry up online, your box office might hold options you didn't know you had.
"Most larger music venues and stadiums have a box office where you can purchase tickets directly," agrees Klosowski. "This isn't always the case, but if it's an option to you, it's a great way to avoid the ridiculous service charges that come when you order tickets online."
This is also a good option when everything online says 'sold out'. Says Klosowski, "Oftentimes stadiums and venues will release extra tickets the day of the show or game and all you need to do is show up at the box office when they open."
This is another tip that doesn't really apply to sporting events. In fact, it doesn't apply at large events either. But if you are eyeing a show at a smaller venue, this tip can save you good chunk of change.
According to Symester, when artists play smaller venues, tickets start cheaper and then get progressively more expensive the closer the event gets.
Obviously, in this case, waiting until the day of the performance will produce the opposite of your desired effect.
In so many cases, not just with event ticketing, it pays to know a little about your options and assess just how important a purchase is to you before you commit yourself. In some cases, a concert or game will be so unmissable to you that you will be willing to pay full price to lock in your seat there. For other events, you might be willing to take more chances for a deal. The important thing is that, in either situation, you are in control and you're making educated decisions. And that's a good place to find yourself.
To see how the biggest event ticketing sites stack up to one another, visit our Event Ticketing Reviews page today!