Becoming a Ticket Broker – Where to Start?

In this guide on how to become a ticket broker, we will cover the basics on how to start buying and selling tickets like a pro.  If you are already a ticket broker, and are looking for more advanced information, feel free to check out our Ticket Broker Software page.

Buy Tickets

The first thing you’ll need to do is to secure some inventory to sell.  Depending on what kind of tickets you’re looking to sell, there are a couple of ways to go about this.

 

Sports

If you think you’d like to be in the sports market, you’ll want to secure some season tickets from a team.  When you buy tickets straight from the team, you’ll get them at a reduced season ticket-holder rate, which is lower than the single game price that would be available to the general public.  Securing tickets for a cheap price is half the battle!

It’s important to see this as an investment.  You’ll need to put your fanhood aside and make a smart decision to invest in tickets for a big-market team with a fanbase that has money to spend, or on a team that is poised to do very well the upcoming season.  Or ideally, both!  Don’t invest in your favorite team just because you think it will be fun.

It’s also a good idea to diversify.  If you have a budget to spend on season tickets, it’s risky to put all of your eggs in one team’s basket.  If the team doesn’t do well, you could find that you have thousands of dollars worth of tickets that fans are only willing to pay hundreds of dollars for.  You’ll also learn a lot more in a shorter amount of time about selling sports tickets if you are spreading your inventory across multiple teams and multiple sports vs just one team.

Finally, try to secure cheap tickets.  You’re likely to have a better return on investment on cheaper tickets than you are on more expensive seats.  Many times, the resale spread on cheap tickets vs premium tickets is relatively small compared to the face value spread which can sometimes be double or triple.  Look for something cheap with a specific perk that makes the seats stand out against the competition.  For football, basketball, and hockey, it’s great to be closest to mid-field/court/ice, but you are better off reselling the cheap upper level seats instead of the premium lower level seats.  For baseball, the closer you are to home plate, the better.  Aisle seats are a great little perk to have, since buyers will sometimes pay more for a lesser quality seat just to sit on the aisle.  If there are no season tickets available for the team you want to invest in, don’t force it by buying expensive seats!  Find another team with something that’s more re-sellable.  The more expensive the ticket, the less people there will be who are in the market to buy it.

 

Concerts

Getting involved with concert tickets is a bit different than the sports industry.  The best way to secure concert tickets to resell is to purchase them straight from the venue BEFORE they go on sale to the general public.  For a concert that is in incredibly high demand, this can be the difference between getting tickets and not getting tickets at all.  For a concert with slightly less demand, this can mean the difference between buying front row seats and buying seats in the 15th row.

One way to do this is to join the fan club for the artist whose tickets you want to buy.  You can usually do this by submitting your e-mail on the artist’s website.  Before tickets go on sale to the general public, they will provide you with a code to access the fan club pre-sale.  Not every artist has a fan club and not every artist will have a pre-sale for the fan club, but many do.

Another way to secure tickets before they go on sale to the general public is to open a credit card which is known to give access to concert pre-sales.  Amex and Citibank are known to provide pre-sale access to their cardholders.  Check out their upcoming pre-sales:

Amex

Citicard

There are a couple of strategies used by ticket brokers when securing concert tickets.  Some brokers prefer to scoop up as many cheaper seats as possible (avoid the obstructed view seating even though it may be cheaper) in hopes that the concert gets really hot and they can make a healthy profit on each ticket.  Others try to go for a couple of the most premium seats they can get, preferably in the first few rows of the floor.  Supply is very limited for these seats, and the face value is not usually inflated to reflect that, as tickets many rows back in the floor may have the same face value.  The idea here is that you may be able to sell the front row seats for a high premium if you can afford to be patient until the right buyer comes along.  Sometimes the difference between 5-10 rows can mean hundreds of dollars on the resale market.

Just like with sports tickets, it’s good to diversify.  Don’t jump right in by scooping up thousands of dollars to one concert.  If it seems like it’s too easy to get tickets on the primary market, then that is likely a sign that the concert is not going to create much buzz on the secondary market.  Don’t spend all of your capital in one place, try a bunch of different concerts and learn from each purchase.  You’ll save yourself a lot of money and will educate yourself a lot faster.

 

Sell Tickets On StubHub

Now that you have bought tickets, it’s time to sell them.  StubHub is a great place to start selling your tickets, as they control 50% of the resale market (more on that later).  To get started, click the “Sell” link at the top of the page and perform a search on the team or artist you are selling tickets for.  If you have season tickets, you’ll be able to list all of your games at once by searching for the team and clicking all of the games you are selling, rather than listing each game one-by-one.

You’ll be asked for the seating details (section, row, and seat numbers) as well as any disclosures (aisle seats, obstructed view, etc.) to be included in your listing.  Then you’ll be asked for your price.  Many brokers like to use a “dummy price” when they are listing their tickets which is basically an unrealistic price ($1000 per ticket as an example) designed to act as a placeholder until you are ready to research the market for that game and price it competitively.

Once you’ve listed your tickets, and you’re ready to set a competitive price, I personally like to work out of the “My Listings” page.  From here, you will see all of your active listings, and you can click on an event link to bring up the event page that a potential buyer would use to purchase tickets.  The idea here is to use comparable listings to determine the market value for your tickets.  As an example, let’s say we are selling 4 tickets to a New York Knicks game, in Section 209, Row 10.

StubHub Filters

First, we would set the quantity to “4” to filter all other listings out of view that are not available for purchase as a 4-seater.  It’s important to do this because you want to price your tickets competitively among the other 4-seaters available.  If someone comes along looking for 4 seats together, they are not going to care what the prices are for 2-seaters, they’re only going to be interested in 4-seaters.  This is why having a quantity greater than 2 can improve your return on investment.  There is usually a lot of supply available for pairs, but far less available for purchase as a 3-seater, 4-seater, or higher.  You’ll almost always see that the price per ticket for a 3-seater or 4-seater is higher than the price for a comparable pair.

Seating Chart

Second, you’ll want to filter the listings to sections that are comparable or better than the tickets you have.  In this case, we have Section 209, so I would click on every 200-level section between Section 209 and 213, and the equivalent sections on the other side of the venue from Sections 222 to 226.   You don’t need to worry much about the tickets in the other sections, because those are inferior seats and even if the prices for those listings are lower, there are buyers who simply will not sit that far into the corner or behind the basket.  You’re goal is to price competitively among comparable listings.

Listings

Now that the filters are in place, you can see all of the eligible listings on the right-hand side of the page.  In this case, we see Section 209, Row 18 for $58.82 per ticket (that’s the “Buyer Sees” price, or the “all-in” price to the consumer).  We see Section 223 (a superior section), Row 16 for $74.30 per ticket.  We see Section 210 (a superior section), Row 5 (a superior row) for $76 per ticket, and a few other listings in between.  You need to put yourself in the shoes of a rational shopper to decide where to price your tickets among these others.  In this case, if I can afford to be patient, I would list my tickets at around $68 (all-in price).  If I feel I need to be more aggressive, I’d list for $64.  A rational shopper will see that they are getting an 8-row upgrade on the Row 18 seats and paying the extra cash might be worth it, and they’d see that they are paying less than the Row 5 seats and might prefer to save a little money.  So the trick is to find the perfect sweet spot that makes your tickets stand out to a rational shopper.  Once you’ve determined your price, go back to your listing price, type that in as the “Buyer sees” price, and click save.

Some sellers like to use historical sales data from StubHub to determine where to price their tickets.  Their thought is that the prices that people have actually paid for tickets determines the true market value, but I have found that to rarely be the case.  Many times, buyers bought their tickets weeks earlier, and the listings at that time dictated what the buyers were going to have to pay.  A lot can change in a few weeks.  The event may be hotter than sellers anticipated, and prices can go up, or there may be less hype than sellers thought, and prices may be coming down.  Either way, your best bet is to use the “rational shopper” technique and base your price off of what is currently available.

Speaking of prices moving up and down, it’s important to know that prices almost always come down as the event approaches, so it’s a smart strategy to SELL EARLY.  As the event gets closer, sellers start to become more anxious to sell their tickets, and it’s not uncommon to see them undercut each other’s prices faster than the buyers are scooping them up.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes, a team will start to perform surprisingly well, or a favorable weather forecast for the game (baseball) will cause a sudden surge in pricing.  But for the most part, you’ll find that the earlier you sell your tickets, the more profit you’ll extract out of them.

Finally, don’t be stubborn.  Once you’ve spent the money on the tickets, the face value is a sunk cost.  Don’t trick yourself into thinking your tickets are worth more than the market dictates just because you paid more.  If that means that you have to take a loss on a ticket, don’t think twice about it.  You may lose money on some tickets, and you may profit on many more.  Do your best to minimize your losses when they are inevitable by not overpricing your tickets and hoping for a miracle.  You’re sure to make plenty of mistakes with your investments, make sure you learn from them and move on, don’t let them bury you.

 

Sell Tickets On TickPick

Now that you have learned how to sell your tickets on StubHub, it’s time to take it to the next level and start selling your tickets on other marketplaces like TickPick.  As I mentioned earlier, StubHub controls 50% of the resale market, so if you are only listing your tickets there, you are missing out on 50% of the buyers who may be interested in your tickets!  If you’re listing your tickets on multiple marketplaces, like TickPick, you greatly increase your chances of selling your tickets while the prices are at their peak.  This improves your profitability and helps you take your new ticket empire to the next level, see the examples below:

Example 1

Example 2

Secure A Point Of Sale

The best way to start listing your tickets on multiple marketplaces is by using a Point Of Sale (POS).  This is how every legitimate ticket broker operates.  While it’s possible to list your tickets manually on many marketplaces, and to adjust the prices on each marketplace, it’s completely inefficient and leaves you vulnerable to a costly double-sale (where you sell your tickets on two marketplaces within a few minutes of each other, and are forced to pay a fee for busting an order).

A POS is a centralized location to manage your inventory.  You list the tickets in the POS, and your listings are then spit out to all of the marketplaces you want them to go to.  When you set your price for the tickets in your POS, the price update is reflected on all marketplaces instantly.  If the tickets sell on one marketplace, the POS is able to remove the tickets from all other marketplaces within seconds.  There are two POS softwares that TickPick would recommend:

 

TicketNetwork

Ticketnetwork has been around a long time, and is definitely the most widely used POS out there.  One of the perks that comes with a TicketNetwork contract is that they’ll set you up with your own website where you can direct people to buy your tickets and where you can actually sell other broker’s tickets for a commission.  This is useful if you have a strong following of customers who buy tickets from you directly.

In order to get set up on TicketNetwork, you’ll need to purchase a desktop computer (refer to TicketNetwork for the minimum specs needed) to install the software, and you’ll have to either do all of your business from the desktop computer, or you’ll have to remote connect to the desktop from your laptop.  You’ll also need to set up a merchant account in order to run customer’s credit cards, which costs between $30-50 per month in fixed fees.  Finally, there is a $500 price tag for small brokers for a 1-year contract of the service.

When you list on TicketNetwork, your tickets will be available for sale on TickPick through their “Mercury” program.  When the tickets sell on TickPick, you will be paid your listing price minus your Ticketnetwork Mercury fee, which could be between 3-10% depending on how quickly and successfully you fulfill your orders with them.  You’ll also sell many tickets on other marketplaces, and you are able to send your listings to StubHub as mentioned.

 

Ticket UtilsTicket Utils is the latest POS to hit the block, and is definitely a little bit different than TicketNetwork.  Unlike TicketNetwork, Ticket Utils is cloud based, which means there is no software to install, and your POS can be accessed directly from your laptop, or even from your phone.  The software is a bit more user-friendly and intuitive for the average individual who has no experience using a POS.

There is no commitment with Ticket Utils, and the price is $99 per month, which you can terminate at any time without a fee.  You don’t need to set up a merchant account, you’ll be paid by each marketplace via PayPal, check, or ACH transfer.  When you sell your tickets on TickPick, you are paid your full listing price (0% commission).

As an incentive to start selling with TickPick, TickPick is willing to pay for a 1-month trial of Ticket Utils (the standard trial is 7 days).  Please use the link below to request your trial, and use the name “TickPick” as the referral name in order to receive the 1-month trial.

1-Month Trial To Ticket Utils

 

Summary

So there are the basics to becoming a ticket broker!  To recap:

1 – Buy tickets

2 – Start selling on StubHub

3 – Secure a POS and start selling on TickPick and other marketplaces

The point of this article is to put people like you on the fast-track to buying and selling tickets, and to show you how real ticket brokers run their businesses efficiently and profitably.  Feel free to reach out to Joe Cassitto at [email protected] if you have any questions at all.

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