Get smart about preventing concert ticket fraud

Cristina Peralta

Apr. 12, 2018

By Bill Leigh, originally published on the Eventbrite blog

Ticket fraud affects nearly five million event attendees per year. Even if concert ticket fraud and scalping haven’t impacted your shows or festivals directly, the problem reduces confidence in the live music industry. If fans are afraid that their ticket may be fake, your attendance will suffer.

Scalping and ticket fraud can also lead to sold-out concerts with empty seats. Not every ticket purchased by an automated bot is resold.

“The ticket may go unused, so you’re missing out on a person being physically at the event,” says Biasha Mitchell, Eventbrite’s Director of Music Festival Strategy and Solutions. “That means you miss out on food and beverage sales and other ancillary revenue. So you eat the cost of the ticket, plus the opportunity cost of not having a person in the venue or the festival.”

Venues and promoters have to get smarter about preventing ticket fraud and scalping, without affecting sales or frustrating fans.

“There are ways to solve this problem without slowing down the purchase or adding obstacles,” says Gilad Horev, Eventbrite’s Vice President of Product, Platform. “We don’t need to add friction and affect all the good buyers’ experiences in order to weed out scalpers.”

Are you using the latest fraud-fighting techniques? These steps should be part of your ticketing process.

1. Limit ticket sale quantities

Start fighting fraud with precautions at the point of purchase. By setting a reasonable cap on the number of tickets per household, you can prevent scalpers and bots from grabbing up large quantities of tickets. That way, you can ensure more tickets get into the hands of real fans.

Your ticketing partner can help enforce ticket limits, even when savvy scalpers attempt to get around them. Eventbrite uses algorithms to scan for scalpers, watching sales in real time and preventing scalper sales before they happen.

2. Delay ticket fulfillment

When a customer buys a ticket, send confirmation, but don’t provide a “print-at-home” ticket right away. Instead, send barcodes a week to ten days before the event. That way, scalpers will be unable to transfer tickets far in advance.

The delay also allows your ticketing partner to conduct a sweep confirming that each purchase has adhered to the ticket limit.

3. Have a reselling policy

After tickets are sold, there are more steps you can take to prevent scalpers from raking in money. Choose a ticketing provider like Eventbrite that partners with fan-to-fan ticket exchanges like Lyte.

Lyte allows ticket holders to return tickets in three clicks, rather than trying to sell the ticket themselves. And for those still looking for tickets, they can buy a verified ticket on Lyte without any anxiety about its validity.

Lyte CEO Ant Taylor predicts this will become common in concert and festival ticketing. “In 3-5 years, if someone buys a ticket and can’t go to the show, people will just ask, ‘Did you return your ticket to the organizer?’ It will be an antiquated notion to go online and try to sell it yourself. This will put more money back in the pockets of the people who matter: attendees, artists, and event creators. The only people it doesn’t help is scalpers.”

4. Rely on your ticketing partner to automate fraud prevention

There are several steps ticketing platforms can take to minimize fraud. For example, Eventbrite uses sophisticated real-time decision logic and machine learning technology to flag potential scalpers before they can buy tickets. The technology voids those transactions to stop bots, weed out scalpers, and get more tickets in the hands of actual fans.

For music festivals like Newport Folk Festival, these methods stopped professional resellers from buying more than 10% of festival tickets. As a result, the number of Newport Folk Festival tickets on the scalper market has decreased by 70%.

When you prevent fraud and scalping, fans save money and revenue goes directly to venues. Plus, by reducing no-shows, concerts can increase at-event revenue from the bar and merchandise table.

For more on the latest trends in the live music industry, get our report on 2018 Music Trends: The Top Predictions.

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