How the TicketSwap app aims to fix the music industry’s ticketing problem
“Customers saying they got scammed and asking if there’s any way they get refunded has pretty much stopped”
Buying a second-hand gig ticket from a stranger online sometimes feels a little shady, doesn’t it? The quick social media profile checks to ensure that it’s a genuine seller; the anxious anticipation of the ticket arriving in your inbox after you’ve sent the money, and then the silent acceptance that your ticket might be a fake as you approach the venue doors.
And it’s no wonder we have these worries – in 2022, music and festival ticket scams soared 600 per cent compared to 2021, reported The Telegraph, with victims facing an average loss of nearly €300 each time. And a report by CNBC claims that 12 per cent of buyers are scammed due to unfair ticketing practices.
TicketSwap is rapidly eradicating these fears with its mobile app. It lets you securely buy second-hand tickets for a reasonable price, look for upcoming gigs, and safely sell your own tickets.
The company, founded in 2012 by Hans Ober, Ruud Kamphuis and Frank Roor in the Netherlands, is helping 9.2 million fans in 36 countries see their favourite artists perform. And, as TicketSwap continues to expand, it’s made the wise decision to partner up with venues, event organisers, police and artists to provide further assurance for concert-goers.
Lakota, Bristol, is one such venue that’s working closely with TicketSwap. Mike Hollingshead, head of events and marketing at the venue, tells us that since TicketSwap has been in the game, resale-related complaints have plummeted. “Customers saying they got scammed and asking if there’s any way they get refunded has pretty much stopped,” he says.
Hans Ober will surely be pleased to hear that. He co-founded TicketSwap after hearing stories of friends being sold illegitimate tickets to festivals and gigs. When he needed to sell a festival pass of his own, the buyer wanted to meet Hans to verify his authenticity. After the brief interaction, the buyer was happy to pay Hans via bank transfer. Following the exchange, Hans was convinced that a platform should exist for secure, safe resale transactions – enter TicketSwap.
So, what makes TicketSwap such a trustworthy solution? For one, users are required to verify themselves via payment processing platforms such as Stripe. Plus, TicketSwap has over 215 employees of 30 different nationalities, which includes a customer support team that resolves any ticketing issues for buyers, sellers, and venues. For Mike and Lakota, this is a “win-win” situation.
“Our customers get peace of mind. [Ticketing] issues rarely happen, but if something does, TicketSwap provides the forum for customer and buyer to resolve it,” he says. “They hold the funds for the buyer and seller so, if it’s clear that someone is trying to scam someone else, they’ll never send the scammer the money and the customer gets their money back.”
As a result, 99.7 per cent of resold tickets on the platform work with no issues, according to the brand.
TicketSwap is also helping reduce the number of scalpers, who infamously overcharge fans. Each sale is capped at 120 per cent of the original price – meaning a Lakota ticket that went on sale for £20 can’t be sold for more than £24. Why 120 per cent? TicketSwap says that it “found that fans were more likely to sell their ticket when they were incentivised to, i.e. with a small profit margin.”
To enforce the sales cap, TicketSwap employs a partnership API integration with ticketing companies to gather as much information as possible on the original ticket. For any non-partnered events, TicketSwap’s Prevention team manually creates the ticket types and maximum prices in its database.
Plus, TicketSwap says it’s “constantly trying to find innovative solutions to read and extract the information on all tickets through machine learning,” and “has tested several price detection algorithms.” Suffice to say, if TicketSwap can keep up this impressive work, scalpers and extortionate second-hand ticket prices might just become a thing of the past. It adds: “We believe it’s wrong for anyone to exploit and profit off concerts and live events by inflating the price of tickets set by artists and promoters. Price gouging hurts everyone in the end. We ensure you will never overpay and that your ticket will work.”
Of course, TicketSwap isn’t the only reselling platform out there. Ticketmaster has its own resale function, while other apps such as Tixel and Twickets operate in a similar fashion to TicketSwap. However, for Mike, one of the main appeals of TicketSwap was its discovery function. “It’s just a bonus that, as a customer, you might go into TicketSwap and just think “what’s going on in Bristol or in London this weekend,” for example,” he says. “The events [Lakota] do, and the reputation we have, tend to come up on the Discover section. It’s another discovery tool that lends to our credibility.
“I used [TicketSwap] myself as a customer and the organic search was just so much better. And it gets a lot more traffic than other sites; it’s just more reputable than the other places.”
This may all sound rosy and optimistic – but it’s not completely seamless yet. As a seller, you can, of course, end up not selling your ticket and therefore lose your money, rather than be refunded by the event organiser. And, as a buyer, you can choose to be notified when tickets are available for an event you’re hoping to go to; but if it’s a big event, the odds of you actually being able to snag the ticket before anyone else is frustratingly low (trust us, we’ve tried many times). Such issues are part and parcel of the ticket-buying experience anyway (Glasto, anyone?), but as more people start to use TicketSwap, we’d hope that more concert-goers will find trust to purchase more tickets and have the confidence that they can resell them to another fan should their plans change.
And, as more festivals and venues partner with TicketSwap, purchasing a ticket from someone you don’t know will be more of a natural transaction rather than a nail-biting one.
So is it time more event organisers and venues turn to TicketSwap? “I think that’d be brilliant if everyone used it,” says Mike. “It helps keep our attendance a lot higher than it was before, which is beneficial for the atmosphere in a club. It’s all about keeping customers happy and ensuring they continue to have trust in the venue.”
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