March 27, 2013

What is secondary ticketing?

Secondary ticketing can be argued to have its positives, but it’s negative implications not only affect the ticket buyer but also the promoter, artist and event. There are several ways to prevent the resale of tickets, however there is currently no legislation in the UK controlling the reselling of event tickets beyond the primary ticket market.


Secondary ticketing began as peer-to-peer ticketing. This involved individuals selling on tickets they could not use or no longer needed. Others then started to buy a few extra tickets, selling them on at a slightly elevated price to help fund their evening (travel etc). It was not long before professionals clocked on to this idea, taking it to a higher level by immediately buying a large amount of tickets and then registering them for resale on their own website or marketplace websites.

Secondary ticketing companies enabled large numbers of tickets to be on sale through their own website, either buying direct from the promoter or via ‘power sellers’. This process may bring with it a considerable mark up in price. A good example of this is when a particularly popular music event goes on sale, and sells out within minutes. These sold out tickets then appear a great deal more expensive on a variety of other ticketing sites.


Peer-to-peer ticketing can be a positive outcome of secondary ticketing for genuine fans. Selling on your ticket to a friend for face value is allowed through this lack of ticketing legislation, and means many tickets are transferable (unless photo ID is required).

Some tickets can be purchased at a lower rate than the original retail price. This is the case especially with those tickets sold through an auction or dynamic pricing. Individuals selling tickets outside a venue, or last minute online, does allow others to make last minute purchases. This depends on the ticket buyers budget however, as a price markup may have been applied.


Some argue that secondary ticketing allows genuine fans to gain access to tickets for more in-demand and popular events. However, the reason for this is because this secondary source has bought out a large proportion of an event’s allocation, forcing consumers to pay out more for their ticket. In addition, this higher price will prevent further fans from affording the now inflated ticket price.

Many ticketing solutions provide event organisers with contact information regarding all of their customers, at the very least providing them with a contact email address. This process is there for a reason. It allows the event promoter/organiser to contact the customer should a change in circumstances, such as event cancellation or any change of time or venue. If a customer buys a ticket through a secondary source, not only do they not receive this information, but the event could suffer due to lack of attendance. Both parties lose out. Artists and venues often see none of the profit from secondary ticketing.

Examples of secondary ticketing

Last year, Viagogo was the centre of a court ruling. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) won a court battle in November 2012, winning the right to access some names and addresses of Viagogo users selling on tickets to matches. RFU planned to provide suitable consequences for the resale of tickets, ranging from naming and shaming through to repaying the profit made. The courts support in the ruling over Viagogo is one step to discouraging ticket touts and other individual buying tickets simply to sell them on for profit.

Secondary ticketing remains legal in the UK. The only way the industry will be stamped out is if the government take a strong stance on the matter and create some sort of legislation. The victory for RFU against Viagogo is a step in the direction to discouraging ticket resale. Some events have provided genuine solutions for unwanted tickets. The 2012 London Olympics set a good example when they created their ticket resale scheme. This service allowed ticket buyers to sell on unwanted tickets to events for the original face value of the ticket.

Fraudulent Tickets

As there is no legislation a major problem facing ticket buyers using secondary ticketing or marketplace sites, is fake tickets that do not actually exist. As there is sometimes no hard proof that the ticket exists there is no sure way of knowing whether the vender is fraudulently selling non-existent tickets.

It is not always clear who the customer is now buying from. This makes the dependability of the seller questionable. The ticket buyer also runs the risk of being denied entry to the event with their often now illegitimate ticket. Many promoters and event organisers hold a clear and strong opinion against the practice of secondary ticketing. Their Terms and Conditions often contain a clause stating that the ticket will not be accepted if there is evidence of resale. This leaves the ticket buyer out of pocket and unable to attend the event.

How can you prevent secondary ticketing at your event?

Here are some tips to help decrease the chance of secondary ticketing for your event

  • Use Google Adwords: Secondary ticket agents will commonly spend significant amounts of money on popular or high profile events and artists to capture ticket sales. If you find this happening on your event, don’t panic! Although bidding on your event name may initially look expensive, Google will quickly identify your site as the official event site and reduce your cost per click to suit. By competing in this space, it will also drive up cost for those that are deemed less relevant, namely the secondary ticket agent. Read more information on using adwords to promote your event.
  • Improve your website’s SEO: By improving your site’s standing in search engines you can make sure your customer has the best possible chance of buying a ticket from you. There are lots of resources available for free to help improve basic optimisation. A quick Google search will point the way to many of these resources, a good starting point is here.
  • Terms & Conditions: Make sure that you make it clear in your terms and conditions that secondary ticketing will not be tolerated.
  • The Ticket: Stating the repercussions on the ticket, such as denying entry, will discourage ticket touts and other individuals from attempting to sell tickets on. It will also discourage potential secondary buyers.
  • Take Action: If you do experience secondary ticketing, take action. Inform your fans/customer on social media of any instances and the consequences. This will not only reassure your genuine fans that you are taking a stance, it will also prove to offenders that you will not tolerate their practice.
  • Use Photo ID: Use a photo ID system to ensure that the same person who buys the ticket, uses the ticket.

By Helen Whitcher