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How To Buy Sports and Concert Tickets Online

Aug 17, 2007
I'm always amazed when I meet someone who doesn't know they can buy event tickets online. People often don't realize that just because the box office says a game or show is sold out, doesn't mean there are no more tickets available anywhere. You don't have to stand in long lines or camp out overnight anymore. You can now get tickets to just about anything online these days. And all you'll need is a credit card and an Internet connection.

Just like the book market and stock trading industry, the Internet has had a profound affect on the ticket industry as well. It has leveled the playing field, making it easier than ever before for anyone to purchase sold out, premium or hard-to-find event tickets. Since you don't need to physically touch a ticket before you buy it, purchasing tickets online makes a lot of sense. The only things that differentiate various online ticket websites are trustworthiness, selection and price.

What kinds of tickets can I buy online?

You can buy just about any event tickets you can think of on the Web. You can get NFL season tickets, NBA playoff tickets, or World Series tickets. You can purchase tickets to the U.S. Open, Broadway or Las Vegas shows, world concert tours, NASCAR races, jazz concerts, circus and magic shows, and tickets to a thousand other events too.

It used to be that you either had to wait in a long line right before the tickets went on sale, continue calling Ticketmaster or the box office battling the busy signal until you finally got through (often right after the tickets were sold out), or participate in some shady deal outside the venue or stadium with a scalper, chancing arrest. All of these options were less than ideal. But now you can go to many competing ticket websites online and shop till you drop, all in the comfort of home or office.

The people who benefit the most by this are the consumers. We can now compare prices in a flash, find great seats that used to be only for people who knew someone important or who had season tickets, got a hot tip, or was somehow 'in-the-know'. What else could we do? There was no other way.

But now it's different. We have plenty of choices. And if you are willing to pay a price that is above face value, you can buy tickets to almost anything.

How do I buy tickets online?

You buy tickets online just like you would buy a book online: find a website that sells what you want, enter your credit card and shipping information and you're done. Compared to going down to the box office weeks before the event and waiting in line when the tickets first go on sale, buying online is much better.

Actually, online ticket websites have been around for a while. There is Ticketmaster.com and Tickets.com, which have relationships with many venues, and are probably the most well known ticket websites. Ticketmaster.com for example, prides itself in not charging more than face value.

But since they don't charge more than face value, there are some drawbacks in using Ticketmaster.com. For instance, they sell out of their tickets very fast. It's not uncommon for a band's tickets to go on sale and sell out in mere minutes. And you're still waiting in line, just virtually. In other words, you are put into a queue when you log on to their site and find the event you want, and then you stare at a "processing" page till your turn comes up. You are then presented with any tickets that are left. If they've sold out in the meantime, you're out of luck.

Why is it so hard to find sports and concert tickets?

One of the reasons Ticketmaster.com for example sells out so quickly is because the demand is often much higher than the supply and Ticketmaster is the top of the food chain, so to speak. Also, many other people besides consumers buy the tickets first. Many tickets are grabbed by promoters, tour sponsors, scalpers, marketers, radio stations, bands, fan clubs and stadiums, which often give preferential treatment to season-ticket holders seeking concert seats. Regular fans are frequently some of the last people to have a chance at that prized ticket.

So, if you don't want to wait in an online queue, or you come up empty-handed at Ticketmaster.com which happens all too often, then your next online choice is to go to secondary market ticket broker websites. Examples of these are tickco.com, http://www.bestshowticketslasvegas.com, ticketsnow.com or http://www.clickitticket.com.

How do you find these tickets websites in the first place?

Either go to any of the websites mentioned directly above (since I have used each of them and know they are completely reliable) or use your favorite search engine and type in a relevant phrase. But be sure to be as specific as possible. You'll have a much better chance of finding the tickets you want easily, and most importantly quickly, by typing in "cheap Boston Red Sox tickets" or "the musical Wicked in Los Angeles tickets" for example, than you would "baseball tickets" or "Broadway".

Prices are often higher than face value in the secondary online ticket market. This is because service fees are added. You are paying for the convenience and the opportunity to purchase tickets to games or concerts that have already been sold out. And it is often much better than Ticketmaster.com since you are not waiting in a virtual queue and you are much more likely of actually getting the tickets you want, regardless of the show or game being sold out.

Another very important reason why these tickets cost more than face value, sometimes a huge amount more, is because of simple supply and demand economics. If there is a larger demand than supply for tickets to the Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna, the Red Sox in the playoffs, or the Super Bowl for instance, then prices will get higher. In fact, they will get as high as people are willing to pay.

The Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, who helped coin the phrase "rockonomics," said "There's a cadre of wealthy fans pushing up prices of popular acts."

Critics of the secondary ticket market argue that consumers are made to pay outrageous prices. But these people need to re-learn fundamental economics. No one is "making" anyone pay higher prices. On the contrary, by being in such high demand, consumers are more than willing to pay the high prices. If we start to attempt to regulate the secondary ticket broker market, then we may need to review eBay.com and all the things being sold for what some people consider "high" prices. Let capitalism take care of prices, not regulations.

There are other benefits from using secondary market ticket websites. The ticket inventory on these sites is often in real-time, so you can see the most updated inventory of tickets for any show or game at any given time. They also frequently offer seating charts to see where you would be sitting. Just be sure that they have a secure and encrypted server to purchase your tickets from. Look for the closed pad lock on the bottom right of your browser when you are on the page that asks for your credit card number. As long as it is closed, you are safe to purchase from that website, since the closed pad lock means 'encrypted'.

Along with speed, easiness and convenience, purchasing tickets online from a ticket website has another benefit. If you are traveling to another city and want to catch a show while there, such as New York City to see a Broadway play, Chicago to see a White Sox game, or Las Vegas to see a show, you can buy tickets online to almost all major events and shows going on in the city you're traveling to. And you can do it in advance in the comfort of your home.

What other online choices do I have for buying tickets to shows and games?

Another option for buying tickets online is to go to the performer's website. Performers or productions will often purchase blocks of tickets up front to sell to their preferred fans or website members.

For instance, you can sign up on your favorite rock band's website, or favorite Broadway production website, and buy special pre-sales tickets for fans and fan club members. You may need to register at the website, but it could be worth it to have a place to buy sold out tickets and get newsletters and information on your favorite performers. If a concert, show or game is sold out, check back regularly as promoters, performers and venues often times release last minute tickets that are close to the event date.

Also, try searching the Web for pre-sale password codes for Ticketmaster or band Web sites.

You can check if your credit card company has pre-sales or preferred tickets put aside for cardholders. American Express has offered this benefit in the past.

And you can go to eBay.com or Craigslist.com to find tickets for sale by individuals. Here you need to be very careful however, since an individual can sell you fake tickets.

If you want the convenience, speed and ease-of-use, or if the tickets you want are premium or already sold out, then your best bet is to go to a reputable online ticket website which sells tickets above face value on the secondary market.

Check to make sure they have a secure checkout (as explained above), that they have a street address, phone number and privacy policy listed on their website, all of which show trustworthiness, and you should be fine. You can also check for seals such as Square Trade, the Better Business Bureau, or Thawte. If a site has any of these seals, and the link goes to a unique page verifying the authenticity, then you should be fine too.

The ticket websites mentioned in this article are all reputable websites that you can trust. Also, if the ticket website you are considering is part of Ticket Network Direct (TicketTransaction.com), then you can trust them as well.

If you find a website that you like, and have a good experience with it, then be sure to bookmark the site since you'll probably want to buy tickets again in the future.

When searching for tickets online, I recommend that you open up a few browser windows, find the show or game you want to go to on each ticket website you're considering buying from, check the seating charts and prices for the day you want, and compare the websites' prices. Just be sure you are comparing the same exact days and seating sections across websites.

Gone are the days of camping out in line, out in the cold, overnight. Now we can all just hop on the Web in only our underwear, click around a few times and viola, our hard-to-find tickets are in-hand a few days later!
About the Author
Jason OConnor owns and operates Oak Web Works, LLC and also runs www.BestShowTicketsLasVegas.com.
Web Design Company
Sports & Concert Tour Tickets
jason@oakwebworks.com
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