From Shawn: Today’s post comes from PDX Deals Guy who previously wrote about using the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program in Las Vegas. Today he is going to talk about ticket reselling for both a profit and as a method to manufacture spend. You can follow him on Twitter and look for the latest deals on his website. Enjoy!
This is part 1 of 2. You can find the second part here.
Ticket Reselling for Profit and/or Manufactured Spend
Article by PDX Deals Guy
Cover photo by Amy Meredith.
Let me be right up front. Ticket reselling is not for everyone. There is a risk of losing money and the potential for wasted time and frustration. Also, you will find that some people (maybe even you!) simply view ticket reselling as some sort of horrible or inexcusable activity (“how dare you sell a ticket for more than face value you scalper!?!”).
But especially if you live in a decent-sized city, whether big or medium, there’s a good chance you have the opportunity to occasionally make some “easy money.” Your motivation might be the “profit” and/or it could be to “manufacture spend” (such as meeting the minimum spend requirement on a new credit card).
The focus of this article is to point out some of the lowest-risk opportunities, along with some important things to do and others to avoid. What I can’t give you is an exact formula or can’t-miss list of tickets to resell. Like most things in this hobby, you will learn by trial and error.
What to Resell?
The goal of reselling any product is maximizing profit. Thus, you want to buy the product as inexpensively as possible, and be as certain as you can that a market exists for that product at a reasonable profit margin. The nice thing about sports (and some theater) tickets is that season ticket holders usually get a nice discount off of face value. The amount of the discount can vary significantly, so this requires some research. More importantly, in today’s world of secondary ticket markets, you should be far more concerned with the discount (if any) you are able to buy the season tickets at relative to prices found on StubHub.com, Craigslist, and elsewhere.
Besides season tickets, the other common reselling opportunity is for big events, most notably music concerts, comedians, and shows. These are obviously less consistent in nature than season tickets, but are also potentially more lucrative, given that many events are for one night only and sometimes in very high demand. Selling tickets for individual shows is also obviously less of a time and financial commitment.
Where to Resell?
The simplest way to sell tickets is also not surprisingly the most expensive. You are probably familiar with StubHub.com. Much like its parent company, eBay, it has become the de facto market leader in its space. This is both good and bad. The good news is that buyers know to look there and are generally confident to buy there, given its “Fan Protect” guarantee. Unfortunately, as a seller, you pay a steep ~25% to sell there.
StubHub tries to say that it is a 15% seller fee and 10% buyer fee, but since all buyers see the final price, the reality is that the full burden effectively falls on the seller. But selling via StubHub is very easy, safe, and efficient. So if you have enough profit potential in your tickets, you can still do well selling at StubHub despite the fees.
StubHub Quick Tip: To see what a ticket has sold for recently on StubHub, start to create a listing and click “Help me price”. You will then be able to see both sold and unsold listings for that ticket.
The other primary option for selling tickets is Craigslist. It is an amazing place for buyers and sellers to meet, but also a world fraught with potential scams and frustrations. I can’t possibly get into all of the details of buying and selling on Craigslist here, but I’ll pass along a few key details. Of course, the biggest benefit of selling via Craigslist is that there are no fees. The downside is that you must interact with people. And those people are always looking for a deal and usually horrible at communicating.
I never give out my phone number in a Craigslist ad for selling tickets and always try to strike up a conversation via email with a potential buyer. Usually pretty quickly you can determine if the person communicates clearly and feels like the type of person you want to “do business” with. If they aren’t, just move on (unless you’re desperate to sell at the last minute – which happens sometimes!).
When you finally make a deal with someone to sell them tickets, I prefer to make the transaction electronically if possible (they pay via PayPal, you send the tickets via email). But, if you must “meet up,” be sure to do it in a public place for your safety and theirs. If they can come to your place of business, that will often give them comfort, and make it even easier for you.
While there are many other third-party ticket resale websites, the other most common place you can sometimes sell is via the place where you bought the tickets. The best example is Ticketmaster, which allows for reselling tickets to some but not all events for which it is the primary ticket seller. Many season ticket holders have the ability to sell their tickets through the sports team’s website, which is sometimes run by Ticketmaster (or sometimes StubHub for resale purposes, as is the case with Major League Baseball).
While this is not a widespread issue (yet), you should be aware of some issues between Ticketmaster and StubHub, as noted in this recent article.
Tips, Tricks and Suggestions
In my experience, the easiest tickets to buy and resell are in your local market. You probably have some local knowledge of what is in demand in your city. In fact, the VERY best tickets to resell are for shows you plan to attend yourself (buy 4 tickets and sell 2 – and you will often times pay for your own 2 tickets that you use!). It is also easiest to sell via Craigslist if you are selling in your local market. Some sports teams frown upon people buying simply (or primarily) for the purpose of reselling, but if you live locally it’s tough for them to identify you as a “broker.” And, if the tickets you have are local, the worst case scenario is that you can use them yourself or find a friend to go to the game or show.
Quick Tip: Always make sure you are aware of any local laws regarding ticket reselling to ensure you comply with the law.
Get on Email Lists and have the Right Credit Cards
Nobody likes junk mail, but getting on email lists for your local teams and venues (or in other markets with which you have good familiarity) is the best way to find out about hot new concert presale events and discounts. Another benefit of being in the points/miles hobby is that often times Citi and American Express cardholders get special presale access (and sometimes discounted prices) to events.
In Part 2 of his guide being published on Saturday, PDX Deals Guy breaks down one of his recent ticket sales and provides more tips for being successful including: how to choose the right events, learning from mistakes and how best to stay organized!