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The BOTS Act could help ticket sellers improve customer experience


The BOTS Act could help ticket sellers improve customer experience

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When is a sale not a good thing? If you’re a seller of tickets to concerts, shows and sporting events, a sale to a non-human can be net negative.

The impact of ticket scalping, a pre-internet phenomenon, has grown substantially thanks to the web, with ticket scalpers employing bots to snatch up the best seats to events automatically, often within minutes of them becoming available.

The use of bots by virtual ticket scalpers has been a major problem for years, and it creates major customer experience issue for legitimate ticket sellers and the organizers of the events they sell tickets for. After all, for obvious reasons, if would-be customers can’t purchase tickets through authorized sellers and are forced to buy from scalpers who substantially mark up tickets, ticket sellers and event organizers rarely benefit.

But the scourge of bot-enabled scalping could be coming to an end thanks to the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, which has been passed [1] by the US Congress and is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.

Once signed into law, the BOTS Act will make it illegal for ticket resellers to use automated software to purchase tickets for events with seating capacities of over 200 people. The law will give states and The Federal Trade Commission the ability to pursue violators for “unfair or deceptive acts.”

A game-changer for the industry?

The BOTS Act could usher in a new era for ticket sellers on the internet, and for consumers who increasingly purchase event tickets through the web and mobile apps.

According to a report [2] published earlier this year the New York Attorney General, which looked at ticket reselling in New York, resellers typically mark up tickets by nearly 50% when selling them on resale sites like Stubhub. In some cases, tickets for popular events, like the Broadway show Hamilton, are marked up by up to 1000%.

But ticket resellers don’t just have an impact on the prices consumers pay for tickets. Scalpers have used bots to snatch up large volumes of tickets very quickly, in violation of restrictions imposed by ticket sellers. For instance, the New York Attorney General revealed that one scalper used bots to purchase over a thousand tickets to a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden when the per-person ticket limit was supposed to be four.

If the BOTS Act deters bot-utilizing ticket scalpers, something that will be dependent on the effectiveness of enforcement action, ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and Live Nation will likely have the opportunity to deliver a better customer experience, establish more customer relationships, and obtain better customer data and analytics. At the same time, they might also need to revisit their strategies, pricing and marketing efforts if a decline of resellers reduces the velocity of sales for certain events.

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