Are Ticket Touts taking over the Events Industry

Ticket touting is a massive issue for the events world today, with new technology making it easier than ever for secondary sellers to resell tickets at extortionately inflated prices. The mass amount of tickets being sold in this way is changing the shape of the industry, making it a less affordable activity for the masses. It is Event Managers responsibility to make sure attendees are not mislead and they can attain their rights as consumers. So, what should they be doing to stop this?

Many steps are being made right now to fight back, but is it enough? Or is there more to be done?

Here’s a summary of the main issues and actions surrounding tout activity. (Please turn on your sound).

So what do you think? Should ‘BOTS’ be made illegal following the laws set in New York? Or, will growing technology only bring new ways for them to operate?

Have you or anyone you know been affected by such scams? We’d love to hear your stories!

Leave a comment below with your thoughts, and we’ll get back to you!


SJH says:

This is one of my biggest bug bares at the moment!!!

I believe ticketed performances, be it concerts, shows etc, should be accessible for all. Ticket resellers are making it more so that only the affluent people can obtain tickets to performances in high demand. It becomes so only the richest can purchase the higher inflated tickets. Tickets are expensive enough as it is without someone buying that ticket and reselling it to you at an extortionate uplift.

Last year i was trying to secure tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Musical. A search of multiple websites seemed to show fairly limited availability from the main sellers (none resellers) and i secured what i could. Only to find when i arrived we were sat in an almost empty area when these seats were designated as sold. Obviously this resellers couldn’t find buyers for there expensive tickets that evening but with the likes of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, you can see why they still continue this profitable pursuit as often they only have to sell 1 or 2 tickets out of 10 to make a profit.

I for one would like to see the UK Hamilton Ticket sale replicated where there are strict limitations on tickets per card and that the card holder must attend with the card that sold this.

Unfortunately this means that people can no longer buy them as gifts if they themselves are not attending. Although I’m sure someone will always work out a way to get around this, it is so important for each ticket seller to do the upmost to prevent reselling as not to affect their show (as in playing to empty audiences despite people wanting tickets and not being able to afford the resller prices or keeping productions accessible for all)

We won’t know the success of the tickets system until Hamilton it hits the west end this winter. Although an initial search shows no tickets on reseller’s sites, it’s hard to know if thiswill continue once the show opens and the resellers work out how strict the rules will be enforced. Will we see people turned away who don’t reach the standards set? Only time will tell. I’m hoping that it will work so well it will be adopted by other productions and greatly reduce resellers. It’s just a shame legitimate buyers will have to jump through hoops to get these tickets but I would rather these strict rules than have the alternative of 95% being bought by resellers.

One thing I worry about is that shows like Hamilton can happily employ these types of ticket restrictions as they are almost guaranteed to be successful and have high demands for tickets. But I guess for the shows that may struggle with ticket sales, they may actually appreciate the tickets being purchased by resellers. A sold ticket, be it through a bot or a standard sale, is still a sold ticket. And on the same note ticket sellers may like resellers at it drives demand.

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to resellers and I hope that more productions will employ new a better techniques to combat it this criminal trade. However, I do wonder if some productions are happy to turn a blind eye to it as long as it helps with the sale of tickets.

Thank you for your comment! We greatly appreciate it. The live theatre element of touting is often overshadowed by the medias reporting on concert ticket touting.

With musical tickets being released in such big quantities and so far in advance it provides touts with a larger opportunity to gain more money.

The other issue to raise is whether there should be a moral and ethical management of this from the production companies behind such big musicals – and surely it will end up with people not necessarily wanting to attend the show if the resale prices are so high, would they not prefer to sell them at restricted quantities to ensure that more people are able to purchase them at affordable prices?

However, with the amount of money it costs to produce such large scale shows, maybe productions are happy to turn a blind eye as it is still providing them with the money from the purchasing of tickets.

This is definitely an issue that we would like to see tackled immediately as well!

jlannon2014 says:

What an interesting article. There does need to be action on this issue, however the way that the music industry works also needs to be reviewed. Whilst it is all well and good for the artists to shout for change and appear to be champions of consumers, they rarely undertake the risk of live performances; instead promoters are charged with providing venues and selling the tickets to the public. Is it in their interests to crackdown on these touts, or is it a case of sell the tickets no matter to whom… This will eventually have an impact upon the live experience of concert goers as the touts do not need to sell all of the tickets that they have bought to make a profit and so the venue may not be full and therefore the feel of the event changes.

Thank you for your comment! It is much appreciated. I agree with you that it needs to be tackled. With the way that technology is heading – and Touts continue you act the way that they are, there could be a new way for people to experience live events but not have to pay the extortionate prices. This is an issue that needs to be tackled immediately we believe, however the debate on how to tackle it it ever growing.

PennyForYourContemporaryIssue says:

I think you have raised some good points regarding the increase on ticket touts taking over.

On the spot fines could be one way of tackling this, although, how can this be implemented, controlled and monitored, but I do agree that something needs to be done about the industry as a whole. Touting was made illegal when the Olympics came to London so this is something that can be done, but whether it can spread across smaller event is yet to be seen.

I do not think that touting will ever be stopped completely as there will always be websites like Viagogo and Seatwave and BOTS softwave to override ticket purchasing limits, but does this lead to going back to old ways of purchasing tickets, like purchasing through a box office or over the telephone?

Thank you for your comment, it’s really good to have your insight into the debate!
Really good point about the on the spot fines, I think many people have the same concerns as you regarding how this would be monitored and if they will just find new ways of operating and getting around the law.

Although it may never be stopped, people are hoping that these steps will help to stop things getting out of hand. There needs to be a line set between where it’s okay to sell on an unwanted ticket and buying to sell, causing others to miss out.

Laura says:

I’ve personally been scammed with Global Gathering tickets a few years ago through a seller on Gumtree. It was such a horrible experience to have been cheated out of so much money. It was even more upsetting to find out so little could be done by Gumtree, the police and the bank to try and stop the crime. This experience has caused me to have a negative association with the event and therefore I have lost all interest in attending.

In my opinion ‘BOTS’ should certainly be made illegal, enough isn’t being done to protect consumers in the events industry. It may be useful for events organisers to play more of a proactive role in protecting their events and their consumers from scams?

Thank you for your comment Laura! I’m sorry to hear that you were scammed out of your ticket, this happens far too often!
A lot of event organisations are trying to spread awareness of fraudulent sellers like this but there is little they can do when it does happen which is a real shame!
A negative associations with the event is one of the main issues fraud and touting is causing Event Managers and one of the reasons it’s becoming important for them to take action and stop these matters getting out of hand and stop others, like you getting scammed!

GFSound says:

I didn’t realise that New York had banned using bots, looks like pretty hefty fines too. What I’d like to see is a coming together of industry (like what Iron Maiden are doing) and government, I think that could perhaps turn things back in the favour of the ticket-buying public.

Yes, people are starting to get very serious about making it illegal in the UK too.
The main concern is that the ban won’t have a large enough effect on stopping touts as a whole, what do you think?
I agree, more event organisers need to embrace technology in creating ‘un-toutable’ and ‘un-fraudable’ tickets like Iron Maiden!
There is still a lot for the industry to do the fight back.

GF Sound says:

I dare say I make it sound simple but if you hit the touts in their profits they’ll be less inclined to carry on, I would expect fines to be an effective means to that end; it’s just a question then of catching the touts in action.

Ellie Blumenthal says:

This was a very interesting blog and I like the use of the video in order to assist in getting your message across. I have also been a victim of ticket touting, from when the tickets had sold out online and later re advertised by touters for double the price.

This is unfair, as who gives them the right to sell on tickets for a profit and make those who can not afford the extortionate prices miss out on an event?

This is definitely an issue that needs to be considered further, thank you for bringing it to our attention!

Dear Ellie,

Thank you for your comment! it is greatly appreciated.

We are incredibly sorry to hear you have been a victim of ticket touting! it is a shame, and seems to be ultimately stopping people from wanting to go to live ticketed events.

We believe that bringing such an important issue to the surface, will encourage people to start thinking about it also – as well as hopefully allowing something to be done about it!

abbie griffiths says:

Ticket resale truly is getting out of hand as the mark-ups being placed on events can be extortionate, preventing access for many fans.

Personally, I am always incredibly cautious when buying tickets online for any event due to the horror stories that emerge each and every year. These days consumers can go to every length to safeguard against such dangers yet can still fall victim to such crimes. BOTS should absolutely be banned, as I believe this would be the first step to building a safer and more trustworthy process. However, ticket touts will always find ways to scam and deceive consumers and therefore there is a great need for stronger regulation. The question is who should be responsible for enforcing such regulations? and will we really need to pass law for platforms such as TicketMaster to finally offer its users protection?

The events industry needs to push for better preventative measures to be put in place and instead of waiting for others to do the right thing, start to pave the way before it’s too late!

Thanks Abbie for your comment it is much appreciated!
It is important consumers are aware of this this matter so they do not fall a victim. Technology is increasing helping touts to buy large quantities of tickets, however stronger software needs to be addressed to stop BOTS also.
In 2015, new rules in Consumer Rights Act were put into place, which requires any reseller tickets sold via a secondary website to state the block, row and, crucially, seat number, as well as the face value and information about any restrictions. However, this is still not enough as secondary seller websites are failing to provide the required information.
The government needs to intervene and take action to make touting a criminal offence for all music, arts, theatre and sporting events.

Sarah says:

A great video!
This is definitely an important issue that needs addressing within the events industry.

As someone who regularly attends events I do my best to actively avoid ticket touts and second hand seller sites.

It’s a shame these people are ruining the experience for those that wish to attend. Recently I wished to attend a concert that sold out before I could buy tickets. The £40 tickets were then on sites for nearly £200 each and it shocks me these people can get away with it.

Hopefully more can be done in the future to stop these people!

Thanks Sarah for your comment. It is much appreciated!

You are right that a negative association with the event is one of the main issues touting is causing the event industry and it needs to be tackle. The main concern is that the ban won’t have a large enough influence on stopping touts as a whole, what do you think?
With the advance of technology, touts may never be stopped, but we believe bringing such an controversial topic can create more awareness of this matter so people do not become a victim of touts, and also encouraging them to start thinking how this should be deal with. There is still a lot for the industry and government to do to protect the industry stakeholders and consumers.

Laura Bowles says:

BOTS in my opinion should be banned along with ticket touting. This would definitely reduce the problem, however, I’m not certain that it would go away completely as it’s hard to monitor and control. Cheltenham Festival for example, the touts surreptitiously locate themselves in the town centres – away from the Festival. Although it may be obvious to the public who they are, they are certainly smart enough to disguise themselves from authority. Therefore, I believe the issue needs to be tackled collaboratively. The government, the public, the police and event managers need to all work together to diminish the problem.

Hi Laura, thank you so much for your insight.
This is the main concern for many people, controlling the problem and any new laws surrounding it will need to be thought through by not only the government but but the events and ticketing industry.
On the street touts are definitely hard to handle, I agree but we are hoping there is more they can do to stop online touting.
It is definitely a matter of everyone working together to stop the problem, one will not be successful without the other, very well said!

Lisa says:

This is a really interesting blog.
I recently attended an interview with a sports events manager and discussed ticket touting within football fixtures (even though it is illegal) and the variety of issues associated with that, that I didn’t even initially think about. Ticket touting and BOTS are a massive issue, as you have addressed, and I completely agree that it should be banned, but will it really stop it? Will the ‘BOTS’ be defeated? Probably not….. At least not until the industry enforces some more advance ways to tackle this issue.

Thanks Lisa for your comment. It is much appreciated!

At the moment touts is illegal in football events, but I agree that there is still a variety of issues influencing the event industry. It may be hard to completely stop touts from happening but at least to create more awareness of this controversial topic so people do not become a victim of touts. This is definitely a matter which everyone should work together to stop the issue, and we are hoping to see the industry and the government carry out laws to tackle this issue.

Beth says:

Great Blog you have raised a major issue who I have fallen victim of.

Do you think this will ever change? The demand for high profile artists will always be there such as Glastonbury people will pay ridiculous prices just to go.

Do you think if the event industry offered a stricter policy this would help? Such as providing Identification when attending events to ensure the name on the ticket and the person using it?

Thanks Beth for your comment. It is much appreciated!

We are incredibly sorry to hear you have been a victim of ticket touting!
There may not be a significant change as there is a demand of paying higher prices to those high profile events, and technology advance has helped people to resell ticket in overseas websites as well. However, touting has created negative experience in events and surely it will end up with people not necessarily wanting to attend the show if the resale prices are so high. At least banning touts can ensure that more people are able to purchase at affordable prices.

Providing identification on tickets would help to deal with touting but it may lead to the issue of privacy. The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has also designed a kitemark that all the members of STAR are required to follow, and this helps to verify a ticket seller is genuine. I think not only the industry, but also The government needs to intervene and take action to make more effective actions.

Jake says:

Even though it is illegal isn’t this an issue that is always going to be around as people are always wanting to buy tickets for events even if that means spending extortionate amounts of money buying from a third party source.

Great vlog and very insightful!
This is without a doubt a huge issue both within the industry and as a consumer. I myself always prepare to be at my computer (and try to get friends involved to get tickets too) as we already know that the bots will be 10 steps ahead of us in poaching tickets!
I have also in the past resorted to buying resold tickets from one of the tout sites and the charges on the tickets were absurd.
I recently attended a talk on the impacts of touts and it’s great to see that government is now getting involved, with bands like You Me at Six and Iron Maiden working together and even talking at Houses of Parliament in attempt to put a law against ticket touts.
I’d like to think that the issue will be resolved however in such an uncertain climate of the ticketing industry I have to feel as though there will always be someone that is ahead of the game and cheating the system!

Sharing Green Responsibility says:

Do producers working with the artists and celebrities step up in time to help the companies selling the tickets to reduce touting? Or this method should only be used as a last resort?

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