231-922-9460 | Google +

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ticketmaster Looks to Build On Its Success At Olympics

For the best deals on big event tickets, check out Online Tickets USATicketmaster said 6.8 million tickets to the Beijing Games were sold world-wide, the most ever for the Olympics.

The company, which last week officially was spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp along with HSN home-shopping network, distributed tickets to the international Olympic committees and handled all domestic ticket sales. (News Corp.'s Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, jointly owns a personal-finance Web site with IAC.)

Ticketmaster hopes to use its Olympics experience to boost its presence in China, where ticket brokering is still a fragmented and young industry, and online payment systems are relatively primitive compared with more-developed economies such as the U.S.

"This was the most complex, most high-profile event," Chief Executive Sean Moriarty said Monday. "We have been presented with some extraordinary challenges."

So far, Ticketmaster is present in six markets, and is looking to expand. The company has 6,500 outlets globally and about 35% of its revenue comes from outside the U.S.

China poses additional challenges. Apart from the lack of a widely used online-payment system, Chinese customers have different habits, such as the desire to receive tickets at the point where they pay. In other markets, customers are generally comfortable paying first and getting their tickets later.

In China, some companies employ couriers to hand-deliver tickets to customers. Mr. Moriarty said rolling out more digital tickets could alleviate that need.

Early Olympics sales rounds were beset with problems as the volume of interest exceeded expectations last year, causing the system to collapse under the heavy load.

By the May round of sales, Ticketmaster's Web site was able to handle its biggest single day -- 175 million page views, with 27 million in the first hour alone. "We are extremely pleased with the results," Mr. Moriarty said.

Even after domestic tickets were sold out, some foreign-passport holders were still able to purchase tickets locally through third-party ticket brokers. During the Games, observers noticed an unusually high number of empty seats in the stands, which some officials attributed to normal scheduling and others blamed on tickets doled out to sponsors.

By: Shai Oster
Wall Street Journal; August 26, 2008