Blog Posts

Your Service Fees Are Killing Your Sales

Last week, while NCAA basketball conference tournaments were occurring, I started to notice the empty seats. Some of these tournaments play in vastly larger arenas than they should, but I started to wonder why so many single conference tickets weren’t purchased.

Then, I did something that may seem oblivious to those in the industry. I actually tried to purchase one of the tickets to several different basketball conferences online.

That’s when I noticed the service fees. In some cases, they were nearly a third of what the actual ticket price of the event went for.

Here’s some examples:

Notice what this does to the consumer. They see this, and they shy away from purchasing online. Is it really smart to avoid having people purchase single game tickets online, just so you can force them to call into your ticket office and buy an all-session pass? What if they just stayed home instead? Quite a few are doing just that.

The idea that there is an all-or-nothing mentality to ticket sales is silly. It’s like going to Safeway and being forced to purchase 10 frozen pizzas, even when you just want one. Not just 10 pizzas for a prorated price, but almost to the point where if you purchased a single frozen pizza, you’d pay almost as much as you would have 10 of them.

That’s not only silly, but frankly stupid.

If you have service fees that are approaching “racket level” in what they charge, consider how the fan buying them views the purchase. This isn’t about discounting tickets, but making the actual sale of a regular ticket appear fair, easy and reasonable. When the customer doesn’t view that sale as fair, they get turned off, and seek out entertainment somewhere else.

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  1. March 14, 2017 at 11:06 am — Reply

    As a user of Ticketron, a founder of BASS Tickets, and executive Vice President, sales and marketing, Ticketmaster (the early years) I have been through all phases of ticketing, including hard ticketing prior to computers…..and today I am with sales outreach for Brown Paper Tickets.

    Yes, service charges are ridiculous (except for Brown Paper Tickets) but that is because the early “rebates” have become how many ways to split the pie. Ticket companies bid for the rights to sell tickets for facilities, often with large (maybe a million dollars) up-front payments and offering full computerization. So of course the public ends up paying. Is it shortsighted? depends on the demand (ie Hamilton) and the marketplace.

    BPT doesn’t play that game: fully capable of delivering on line or mobile admissions, and still has full time telephone sales (!), with a service fee of 99 cents plus 3 1/2 percent of the ticket price, which includes the credit card charge… won’t be able to get tickets through us for the venues mentioned, because Steve Butcher and William Jordan made the decision not to buy clients, but to make it virtually seamless transactions between the public and the productions…and no fees to the producers…..does it work? tens of thousands of clients throughout 5 continents.

    And I am delighted to have ended up with such a “fair trade” company. Producers and venues might want to take a 2nd look at why ticketing is not functioning the way it was intended.

  2. March 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm — Reply


    While I appreciate the blog and the spark for conversation this would make a great survey and data driven analysis for like minded orgs to partner on. We can view this, and make some intuitive reactions but what does the data at the team and / or event level say?

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