Tixel Co-Founder Zac Leigh knows firsthand what it’s like to buy a fake ticket on the secondary market. The episode may have robbed him of the chance to see Tame Impala several years ago, but on the bright side it sparked the idea for Tixel, a safe resale space where tickets are screened for validity and sold at no more than 10% above face value.
Founded in 2017, Tixel is now the official resale partner of event organizers and promoters globally, including Superstruct in the UK (home to events such as Kendal Calling and Bluedot), Beyond The Valley, Strawberry Fields and artists such as Vance Joy.
Here, Leigh discusses the current trends in secondary ticketing, the data insights the secondary market can offer event organizers, and more…
When punters know they have the option to safely resell their ticket, does that impact their decision to buy in the first place?
We ran a report last year, and 88% of event goers are more likely to purchase a ticket early if they know that they can resell it easily down the track. Having that flexibility drives that confidence to buy earlier.
Are you seeing more event organizers leverage that in their marketing?
The good ones, definitely. The reality these days is that flexibility is becoming more important. When we used to buy a ticket for something, it was a pretty solid commitment. And that's not necessarily the case anymore, especially after COVID.
In all industries people expect more flexibility, they expect to get either a refund or to be able to return their product. And events are no different – people now expect that same level of flexibility. And the industry is adapting.
And I think that a lot of event organizers and promoters are embracing safe resale, and actually using it to give that flexibility to fans.
"88% of event goers are more likely to purchase a ticket early if they know that they can resell it easily down the track."
What are the steps Tixel and event organizers can take to alert fans to their resale options?
There are a few practical steps, like actually pre-planning for resale and incorporating it into the whole ticketing strategy instead of just keeping your head in the sand. It's definitely something that we see as a successful way to kind of make sure that there are no issues at the gate, make sure that fans are actually being looked after.
Having a clear policy of refunds and resale definitely helps reduce some of those issues down the track.
Are there any statistics around when secondary tickets are more likely a) to sell, and b) come on the market?
I think around 70% of tickets are sold within the week leading up to the event. People get sick or wake up hungover, or they don't want to go.
And it's a big chunk of the audience as well. There are a lot of people that actually end up swapping tickets – we sometimes see 30%-plus of tickets actually end up changing hands. So that's one in three people.
"70% of tickets are sold within the week leading up to the event."
Is there a demographic that is more likely to sell or buy on the secondary market?
It's a good question. On Tixel, our largest demo is between 22 and 25. Word on the street is that ticket buyers are skewing a little bit younger now.
But we know that the top two reasons why people are most likely to sell is, number one, their friends aren't going anymore. Often events are quite a social thing, and so if a friend bails then that's one of the reasons why people will end up selling that ticket. And also people get sick, that’s the second one.
If event organizers and promoters are working with Tixel, does it give them access to data around a secondary ticketing audience that they may otherwise not have had access to?
Yeah, there's definitely a value-add for the partners that we work with to access a really huge missing data set. When we work with an event organizer they get full control and transparency over their audience.
Like I said before, sometimes we see more than 30% of tickets actually get resold for an event. So that's one in three people that's walking through the door that you really know nothing about. So you can't tell them about the next show. You can't sell them any merch, you can't market the album launch, you don't know their preferences.
And so actually being able to understand that part of the audience and capture that missing data set is really important so that you can better cater for them and sell more tickets in the future. It’s now more important than ever to really be more personalized in the experiences that you're running. And so it's definitely something that is important for event organizers to be able to capture that extra 30%.
And then even on top of that, being able to gauge demand – lots of our partners that we work with, using our waitlist data, they're able to understand more about the demand for their show and actually gauge how many people at any one time want a ticket.
It helps them set better pricing for future shows, or if they want to put on a second show, or where to place upcoming tours, what type of venues to play. So that waitlist data and that data about the demand is really, really important as well. And it can also help ladder up to more ticket sales.
"Sometimes we see more than 30% of tickets actually get resold for an event."
In terms of marketing Tixel, what platforms are proving most effective?
The two things that have worked really well for us, number one, it's word of mouth. So we have lots of people who will be listing a ticket, and they'll share their ticket listing in their news feed. Or if they join a waitlist, they'll share their waitlist link on social, so Twitter or Instagram or Facebook.
And so you'll be able to kind of harness that power of word of mouth. And the reality is, you're much more likely to try out a service if it's recommended by a friend or somebody that you know, rather than a company.
And then the other thing is, we work with a bunch of partners, whether that's artists or festivals or venues. And so they'll often direct fans to Tixel for a safe resale option. So the partnership is also a good channel for us in terms of exposure. We do a little bit of marketing on other channels, but they're the main two for us.
Is your work in the secondary market giving you insights into trends in the primary market?
Yeah, definitely. Sale cycles and buying behavior are definitely changing. People are basically taking longer to make a decision and buying tickets closer to the event date. So more primary ticket sales are happening closer to the event. What we used to see is a lot of on-sales would have this big boost at the very start and then at the very end, but now it's kind of happening more towards the end.
The second big one is a lot of ticketing companies are now using mobile ticketing, and there's obviously less hard copy tickets. In-app ticketing and mobile ticketing is definitely becoming more prevalent. So more personalization, and having that kind of technology is something that we're seeing.
And thirdly, ticket prices are getting more expensive. Costs are getting higher, and so ticket prices are also getting higher. Dynamic pricing is a big one as well. Dynamic pricing models are becoming more common. Obviously it's copping a little bit of flack in the media, but it's something we'll probably see more of in the future.
"What we used to see is a lot of on-sales would have this big boost at the very start and then at the very end, but now it's kind of happening more towards the end."
What do you think the next innovation in secondary ticketing will be?
I think people will just continue to value flexibility more and more. It's going to become more commonplace for artists and organizers to partner with reputable resale partners.
In the past, resale was a bit of a dirty word and there's a lot of bad actors in the space, but we're seeing more people actually doing it legitimately. And so I think that, yeah, it'll definitely be more and more relevant, and people will embrace it.
And mobile and digital ticketing technology will continue to progress. So that'll kind of trickle down to secondary as well. They’re probably the two big ones.