Ajay Chowdhury, CEO of Seatwave, discusses the cyclical nature of tech innovation and what London’s businesses can do to make the most of new technology
Behold, there come seven years of great plenty … And there shall arise after them seven years of famine, and all the plenty shall be forgotten.Genesis 41:29-30…
Online ticket marketplace Seatwave has appointed its first group marketing director as the company prepares for a major drive into mobile.
Martine Parnell joins from peer-to-peer lender Zopa, where as marketing director she helped grow the business into facilitating more than £500m worth of consumer loans.
She has also held senior marketing and product positions within the Friends Reunited Group where she was part of the team that sold the company to ITV to 2005 and then on to Bright Solid in 2010.
(From Ajay Chowdhury, Seatwave CEO)
In the past week, BBC’s Watchdog has undertaken an investigation into how the secondary ticketing market works. Watchdog’s findings will air in a segment on the show tonight and again in a second programme at the same time next week.
Watchdog approached us to take part in the programme and we were very happy to be involved. There are a number of misconceptions about the secondary ticketing market that we think are important to tackle.
Seatwave’s goal is to help fans get to the live events they love, by being able to buy and sell tickets in a safe and secure manner. Secondary ticketing with Seatwave means we don’t buy or sell tickets ourselves, we simply provide a platform to allow people to sell event tickets they no longer want or need, or buy tickets for events that are sold out.
Watchdog was concerned about whether the secondary ticketing market inflates the price of tickets. On Seatwave tickets can sell for above the original purchase price or, in many cases, for a much lower price, determined by consumers and what they want to pay and not by Seatwave. We believe that consumers should have the freedom to decide how much to sell their tickets for and consumers can decide whether they want to pay that price to buy a ticket or not.
It is worth noting that the secondary ticketing market makes up a very small percentage of the total number of tickets available to an event. For example, out of roughly 60,000 tickets available for Kate Bush’s concerts, only 200 were sold via Seatwave. We believe that if you bought a ticket to see Kate Bush in concert and found out that for whatever reason you could no longer go, it is only fair that you have the freedom to sell your ticket, because you won’t be able to get a refund from the concert organiser.
At the heart of the argument about the secondary ticketing market is a fundamental disagreement on whether consumers should be free to buy and sell tickets on their own terms. I do not believe that music or theatre tickets should be afforded special protection that does little more than restrict consumer choice. For any other item that you buy it becomes yours and you can keep it or sell it if you want to, which I believe is fair.
I’m a music fan and I’ve paid over and under face value for tickets on Seatwave. Sometimes that’s the only way to get your hands on a ticket to a gig that has been sold out for months. Similarly, on occasion when I’ve found out I can’t use a ticket anymore, I’ve managed to get my money back by selling the ticket via Seatwave – an option I wouldn’t have had if the secondary market did not exist. I, like many people, want to be able to buy and sell tickets in a safe manner where I know that I’m protected from fraud and I can clearly see how many tickets are available and what is a fair price. Companies like Seatwave provide this safety and transparency.
Watchdog also asked us about the safety and security available for Seatwave customers. Seatwave operates the TicketIntegrity Guarantee – we ensure that in the rare instance there is a problem with a ticket, every customer receives a replacement ticket or a full refund – 100% of the time. We also operate a number of very rigorous safety procedures in place that safeguard against ticket fraud. As a result, fraud has only occurred in 0.13% of ticket sales on Seatwave – covered every time by the TicketIntegrity Guarantee. Unfortunately there will always be people who try to beat the system and problems such as security around paperless tickets affect the whole events industry, not just secondary ticketing like Seatwave, but we make sure our customers don’t lose out – something we are proud of.
The rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves at Wembley Stadium is reported to have sold all 60,000 tickets in under an hour, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is said to have confirmed.
Louise Mullock, spokesperson for Seatwave, comments: “Many were unsatisfied with the result last time, so fans will be hoping for a definitive result and Wembley is a fitting venue for arguably the biggest boxing bout in the last 60 years. However, one thing already decided is that, in terms of ticket demand, boxing is more popular than the national football team – something which I imagine surprises a lot of people.”
Meanwhile Drake is currently the most popular rapper with UK audiences, outstripping the combined ticket demand of rap rivals Jay Z and Kanye West by up to 50 per cent, according to research by ticket marketplace Seatwave.
His upcoming Wireless Festival dates also remain the festival’s only sold out shows, in sharp contrast to Kanye West’s Wireless dates which have failed to sell out.
Louise Mullock, spokesperson for Seatwave, said: ‘Drake is in the prime of his career and fans recognise that, as a result we always see high demand for his tour dates. The fact that his Wireless dates have sold out while plenty of tickets for Kanye’s shows remain is a testament to Drake’s popularity and perhaps an indication that Kanye is not the star he once was.
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As I headed off the plane on my most recent trip to London, I reserved a room at my favourite hotel in Soho with the HotelTonight app in less than 30 seconds. With just a single tap of a button once I hit baggage claim, my black cab from Hailo was waiting outside. On my way into the city, I used Seatwave to buy stalls tickets to a West End show, before firing up Blinkbox to catch the ending to a film I was watching in the air.
A quiet one this week lads and ladies, which may not seem very exciting, but it does give you the chance to save up for something big round the corner (this isn’t an announcement that something big is right round the corner, all we’re saying is that we feel it, like, in our loins).
As for what announcements we do have this week, we have the following;
Top British comedians Jon Richardson and Frank Turner have both announced a tour respectively. In true comedian fashion these tours are pretty sizeable, so whichever corner of this nation you reside in, you should have access to one of their scheduled venues.
As far as music is concerned, this week you have a choice between the Modfather himself Paul Weller and the nu-metal pioneers Korn. Paul Weller will be performing a series of live concerts at forest venues (yep, you read that right), and Korn have a one of show scheduled at Brixton Academy in London.
As always, tickets for these events and more can all be found at seatwave.com.