Ticket reselling site StubHub sells tickets to thousands of events in the US each year, and Australians are the most enthusiastic non-American consumers of that service. Yet despite a recent executive visit to Australia to scope out opportunities, we won't be seeing a local version any time soon.
StubHub allows people to sell unwanted tickets to sporting events and concerts, while StubHub itself guarantees that the tickets will be valid and not forgeries (via some fairly extensive checking of existing ticket databases, amongst other strategies).
Resellers can set their own price for tickets, while buyers can see exactly where seats are located in a given venue, and what prices have been paid on StubHub for nearby seats. That approach discourages excessive gouging on resold tickets, though for premium events paying more than the face value isn't uncommon. "We find that about 50% of the tickets are above face value and 50% are below," StubHub senior director Glenn Lehrman told me in a phone interview.
StubHub has been owned by eBay since 2007, which gives it an obvious entry point into the Australian market. Lehrman visited Australia last month to get a greater understanding of the local tickets and event market. However, he says it will be a good while before we see a local version.
"I think it's going to be quite some time," Lehrman told Lifehacker. "At the moment we don't have any immediate plans to come to Australia. It's going to be a few years down the road. I don't think there's any reason to speed up the process. Things don't necessarily happen overnight in a big company, and we haven't gone outside of the US so far."
While that's disappointing in terms of introducing competition locally, it seems likely Australia will be near the top of the list when StubHub does eventually expand. "We see more interest from Australian consumers than any other country outside of the US so far," Lehrman said. "That's quite a remarkable statistic. The easiest explanation is that Australians, when they come to the US, tend to come for a longer period of time, and part of the trip is seeing some sort of large sporting event."
Expanding into Australia will also require partnerships with the major local sporting bodies such as the AFL and NRL (who, if their general behaviour is any guide, will want a cut of the action). "In whatever market you go to, forming partnerships helps," Lehrman said. "When it comes to ticketing, because everyone has been burned at some point in the past, consumers are naturally wary. You have to provide them with a certain level of trust and security."
Lehrman's big lesson from his visit? "It was surprising to see what a rabid sports public Australians were, and to see how passionate they are. In Melbourne, nobody would talk about anything else other than Aussie Rules."
With StubHub holding out, there aren't too many local options for reliably reselling tickets online. eBay has strict policies on the resale of tickets on its main Australian site, including bans on reselling free tickets, while some events, such as the AFL Grand Final, bar resale of any tickets.
Despite the restrictions, eBay resells more than 160,000 tickets locally each year. Rival sites such as TicketChoice work in a similar way to StubHub, but don't have the same range of seats on offer.
Would you like to see StubHub hit the local market sooner? What's your favoured strategy for getting tickets after an event has "sold out"? Tell us in the comments.
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