Organized Ticket Scalping

Kyle Whelliston describes the secondary market for Olympics tickets in Vancouver. It’s a good deal more organized than you might think, complete with a manager: “Everything ran seamlessly. One man stood off to the side, wearing a Bluetooth headset; after each transaction, the placard-bearing buyer or seller would return to his area. He was the nerve center, the one who tracked inventory and set rates.” Meanwhile, the operation’s “banker” was in charge of “making sure that the foot soldiers were not carrying too many tickets (to maintain the appearance of scarcity) or cash (to make changing bills more difficult).” (HT: Tim Burke)[%comments]


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  1. mapgirl says:

    You see the same thing in DC in front of the Verizon Center aka Phone Booth before Capitals hockey games. These guys are organized! (And they definitely don’t like independent sellers who sell for face. Whatevs, they’re my season tickets so face *is* profitable. Your supply cost is not my problem buddy.)

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  2. Gary says:

    I rather prefer ticket gambling to ticket scalping. Another blog tipped me off to a site called OptionIt, where you can buy options to purchase tickets to future games at face value. Neat concept, and having the current top two teams in the NHL on board early means we’ll likely see how this plays out some time in May.

    Its left me torn… if it came down to it, at what price would I give up Stanley Cup Finals tickets? If the stars align and I have the chance, could I possibly part with them?

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  3. Michael says:

    This is pretty much the modus operandi in most cities these days.

    These guys often work for ticket brokers, and the tickets they’re selling outside the venue are ones they either couldn’t sell online/in the office or obtained too late (often at a discount from “distressed” sellers).

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  4. MariferCMS says:

    In my opinion, ticket scalpers are the best thing that could happen in an economy. These people run the industry that is the closest we will probably ever get to perfect price discrimination. After all, they sell each ticket at a different price to each person, it all depends on their willingness to pay. Thanks to this, more tickets actually go to the people that value them the most, instead of the people who can get to the tickets first. Even though consumers may not be too happy about this because they bring consumer surplus to almost nothing, they should be happy that the people who valued the tickets the most were able to get them.

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  5. MartinieCMS says:

    All depends of the demand for the tickets. For example, the hockey games that are taking place in vancouver are receiving great popularity but the finals and the medals will not be distributed until the finals between the strongest and ablest countries. Can scalping work at this stage? The Vancouver Olympic’s team is already having trouble maintaining the tracks and snow balance well. When the hockey finals arrive there will definitely be a scarcity of tickets because the demand for the tickets to see the last game will be at its highest point because at this game people will have the greatest willingness to pay for a ticket to the finals. Scalpers, in this occasion, will earn enormous profits. If the tickets originally cost 100-300 dollars the sales of each limited ticket to the highest bidder amongst the crowd will triple their investment into profits. This form of sales is very similar to monopolistic price making, only better since they can charge different people different prices.

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  6. AngelPeña says:

    This market in my opinion is perfect. Obviously for the scalpers. They get to make a quick, easy and huge profit. It’s interesting that a new market technique has emerged for scalping. Best case scenario is if under-pricing at the box office creates excess demand, thereby not allowing the market to clear. This will cause the scalping market to raise their prices, and even monopoly price in some cases. Some think scalping is immoral, but it’s a business, withe free-market transactions. People don’t like it when prices raises because of demand, but they seem ok if prices are raised because of increase in cost. Just silly. Scalpers is like any firm, they have cost with a uncertain demand curve. It is great technique to make the illusion of low supply creating a feeling of scarcity therefore allowing those consumers to pay the highest they are willing to pay. The scalping business generates about a billion dollars each year.

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  7. KCKY says:

    My question is: how much has the men’s hockey gold medal game market crashed after last night’s USA/CAN game?

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  8. Joel says:

    I find it most interesting that arbitration has started to resort to cooperation instead of scalpers directly competing against each other. This seems to suggest that there is a sort of prisoner’s dilemma in the scalping market. In other words they seem to have realized that working together will earn them more money than working against not only the IOC, but also each other. I would be very curious to know how more they are making than if they tried to sell on their own.

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