entertainment ticketing

Event Ticketing Fees Explained?

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Event ticketing fees are added on to the ticket price when purchasing tickets for entertainment events. Just what are they and what are these fees for is a mystery to many of us who buy tickets.

Live music events are exploding as the Covid pandemic restrictions are lifted. Live music fans are excited because after two long years of little to no concerts, they have the opportunity once more to purchase tickets to see the artists they love.

One thing that these music fans are noticing is a rise in event ticketing prices. The big question is, why has the cost of buying a live entertainment ticket gone up so much? Will it continue to go up? What are the factors involved?

event ticketingWe are all familiar with the fees that online ticketing sites tack on during the checkout process of buying a concert ticket. Not only are ticketing prices increasing so are the fees associated with the purchase of event tickets. Let’s take a look at these ticketing add-on fees and why they are necessary.

Add-On Ticketing Fees Explained: Ticketmaster

Let’s break down what these fees look like when checking out on the site Ticketmaster. The fee structure is very confusing to most buyers. When buying a resale ticket, you may see fees listed on top of the ticket price. It you buy a ticket for an event (not resale) you may only see a total price. For instance, two tickets listed for $55.50 each (total $111.00) on the site comes out to a price $152.35 before checkout with no explanation for the difference.  That’s a thirty seven percent increase over the published ticket price.

In other cases, the ticketing add-ons percentage may be less. For example, if we buy a ticket on Ticketmaster for a live entertainment show for $149, the add-on fees total up to $28. This is about 19% of the original ticket price, bringing the total price to $177.

Actually, the fees vary by the show and whatever Ticketmaster has negotiated with its partners for the event. John Oliver recently took on Ticketmaster on his HBO show. Here’s a link to Celebrity Access’ report on John’s show. Caution, John Oliver uses a lot of four-letter words during his monologues.

Those extra add-on fees can be a deterrent for many people in buying the ticketing tier they prefer. They may end up buying a cheaper tier ticket or not buying a ticket at all for the event in question. Of course, most people who routinely buy event tickets know that they will be hit with these extra fees before they go to buy the tickets they want.

What is the purpose of these add-on ticketing fees? Ticketmaster states that their online ticketing add-on fees include a service fee, order processing fee, and a delivery fee. Why so many different fees? Ticketmaster’s response to this question is that the ticketing fees are determined “in collaboration with our clients” which would be venues, sports teams, or event promoters such as Live Nation. If you don’t know already, Live Nation owns Ticket Master.

A portion of the add-on ticketing fees that they charge go to their client in exchange for the rights to sell tickets for their event. The remaining fees would accrue to Ticketmaster as the event ticketing firm.

They state that the portion of the fees they get goes towards providing their clients with “software, equipment, services and support to manage their tickets and box office”. Ticketmaster also claims that they use the fees to “provide the sales network used by clients to distribute tickets to fans.”

One charge is called a delivery fee. When you think of a delivery fee you think of something being shipped and delivered to the buyer. It would make sense if someone were ordering physical tickets to have this fee added to their order when having their tickets delivered via the Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, etc. Why is a delivery fee sometimes charged for electronic tickets? The stated reason for such a charge is to cover the costs of electronic delivery and the software that enables it.

Why Are Ticketing Fees Rising? reason

When you look at the purpose of these fees you see that it is another source of revenue and profit for Ticketmaster and their client for a particular event. Of course, it costs money to provide the hardware, software, people, and other resources needed to provide the ticketing platform and services involved. Ticketing fees are the mechanism that ticketing platforms pay for their costs.

But why the recent increase in charges for these fees? There are two reason that seem to provide the answer to this question: inflation and recouping losses.

The current rate of inflation of our economy is one reason. Many of the items that we need to purchase in our day to day lives have increased. The law of supply and demand means that when we have a shortage of things, the price goes up. Whether that shortage is caused by supply chain issues, or labor shortages, it means significant inflation and cost increases. Add to that the recent spike in energy prices as people return to pre-covid driving habits and shortages caused by world events and you have a good reason to expect cost increases across the economy, including ticketing fees.

The second reason is that the pandemic cause huge revenue losses for the live entertainment industry and those who provide the services for such events. Two years of lost revenue means that many companies need to raise their prices to recoup some of those losses. They have investors to answer to and are using fans’ eagerness to return to live entertainment events as an opportunity to raise the fees involved with their services.

Hopefully as the economy stabilizes the prices of tickets will as well. But only time will tell.

Ticket Reseller StubHub Ticketing Fees

Sites that resell tickets, like StubHub, also charge add-on ticketing fees. If you buy a ticket priced at  $151, the add-on fees for this particular ticket would be $43.64. That brings the total of the ticket to $194.64. The add-on fees would be around 22% of the original ticket price. This is in line with, but a bit higher than Ticketmaster. With StubHub, the bulk of their fees are “service fees” and there is a small “fulfillment” charge.

StubHub states that the purpose of their fees is similar to Ticketmaster’s fee explanation. StubHub asserts that the “Fees are good for that browsing session only and may differ between the app and desktop.” My guess is that StubHub is using artificial intelligence to find the right pricing (ticketing & fees) strategy for each visit to its website. Dynamic pricing is a fact of life. It allows ticketing platforms to sell out the venue for the highest profit achievable or even lowering prices in real time to sell out the venue and maximize food and beverage revenue. That means that ticket pricing and fees could be different for the same ticketing tier depending on when you decide to purchase tickets.

StubHub states that their fees go towards similar services as Ticketmaster like FanProtect Guarantee, Partner-verified tickets, customer support, maintaining the world’s largest ticket inventory, and providing a robust ticketing platform and functionality. So according to StubHub, Ticketmaster and other ticketing application, the add-on ticketing fees that their customers pay go to supporting their business. They don’t mention providing a good profit margin as part of their explanation for their fees.

Other Ticketing Alternatives

How can you save money or avoid these add-on ticketing fee? One answer would be to go and buy your tickets in person at the venue’s box office. Typically, venue box offices don’t charge ticketing fees other than sales tax and credit card processing fees. There are also ticketing sites like FeeFreeTicket or TickPick that are online sites without add-on fees for their live event ticketing.

These sites need to make money for what they provide. So how do they make it without the add-on fees?  The answer is that their charges are included in the ticket price as opposed to having add-on fees. Is the final price you are paying cheaper than using a ticketing application with these add-on fees? The answer is no most of the time. The ticket price itself is higher when there are no add-on fees. Either way you will be paying for a the cost of the service and profits needed by them so in the end you will find similar ticket prices.

Using credit cards that give you cash back when purchasing live event tickets could be beneficial to you if you attend concerts frequently. Two percent or even more cash back is common with such cards. Vividseats, a ticketing resale site that offers a rewards program for those who buy ticket sfrom them. Customers can earn rewards, ticket upgrades and other perks when you buy tickets through their site.

As you can see there are several options to help you save money on your live event ticket purchase. However, if you want the convenience of buying entertainment event tickets online, you will need to accept that add-on ticketing fees are part of the price you pay.

What If You are a Venue or Promoter Selling Tickets?

online ticketingWhen you’re on the other side of the business transaction, you have decisions to make on your ticketing strategy and pricing tiers.  You have to think about your customer target market and the fan experience they expect. For a better understanding of event ticketing strategy tactics, read our article: Event Ticketing Strategy: 4 Tactics to Sell Out.

If you have high ticketing fees and on an average priced ticket then that could very well lose some ticket sales. If you’re trying to make the right decision on ticketing tiers, pricing and add-on fees, it’s best to consult with a full-service entertainment company. When working with an reputable entertainment company they can guide you and provide different options to help you with decisions.

One of the decisions you must make is whether to use a ticketing platform that includes their fees within the ticket price. Of course, if you want to eliminate the add-on ticketing fee, you have the option of selling tickets at your physical box office. If you sell them online, you will need a ticketing application and that means paying for that application. There is no way around that.

TSE Entertainment’s Online Ticketing Application and Fees

TSE Entertainment offers an online ticketing platform for venues and events. Because it is usually bundled with other entertainment services provided by TSE, it is very economical for venues and the customers who end up paying for online tickets. It is also a very robust and flexible application for venue, promoters, and event organizers.

event ticketing onlineThe TSE add-on ticketing fee is a straightforward fee, depending on whether it’s a general admission (GA) ticket or reserved seat ticketing tier. While the actual fee can vary depending on venue capacity and box office set up, the general admission add-on fee can be as low as $1.39 per ticket. That’s it. While credit card and sales tax fees are additional, those are pass through fees as with any ticketed event, including those tickets purchased at a physical box office. You still get the customer service found on other platforms, but you get these services at a much lower price. The biggest difference is that it is your own box office, so you won’t find every concert and tour in every city on the online box office.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, event ticketing service fees have gotten pricier within the last year.  That might be expected as the cost of living, groceries, gas and pretty much everything we purchase has gone up. Their costs have gone up as inflation impacts their business model.

There are other ticketing alternatives to major ticketing sites that you can take if you’re looking to save a bit of money when you purchase tickets. In the end we just have to bite the bullet and pay the extra fees that are added for the convenience of not traveling to a physical box office. It’s similar to having to pay a shipping fee. You know that the fee is necessary for you to get your product but sometimes we look for free shipping. Do you really think the shipping is free?

If you are a venue or event looking to sell tickets and want a different approach than the mega ticketing sites look into help for ticketing from a Live Entertainment Company. TSE Entertainment can help you and your customers get the best pricing as well as the best ticketing options for your business. If you just need help and someone to consult with TSE is here for you as well.

About the author

Picture of Olivia Hurtado

Olivia Hurtado

Olivia is a graduate of Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor’s in Music Business. She has a love for live music, songwriting and just an overall passion for music in general. She is excited about working in the music business and gaining experience and knowledge while on the TSE team.
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