Picture this: you’re waiting in line to go see your favorite band. Tickets have been sold out for weeks, but you found a pair of tickets online and, without thinking, you purchased them before someone else could. After waiting patiently you finally get to the door, but when your ticket is scanned the unthinkable happens- your ticket is invalid!
Counterfeit tickets can throw a wrench in your plans, both as an attendee and an event host. Whether you purchased tickets in person from a friendly stranger that “can’t get a babysitter/suddenly has to go out of town/ has a relative in the hospital / can’t get out of work” or bought them online through Craigslist or one of the many non-verified ticket resale websites, the risk of purchasing fake tickets is all too real in today’s industry.
So what can venues and event hosts do to protect their customers from unknowingly purchasing counterfeit or invalid tickets?
Training Your Customers
Before you start thinking about access control, RFID wrist bands, and scanners, venues and event organizers should consider what they’re doing to educate their customers. Placing warnings on your website about purchasing tickets from un-verified ticket sellers is a great way to get out in front of the problem. Customers want to purchase tickets directly from your organization, but in the age of the savvy shopper, everyone is shopping around for the best deal. If you partner with any resellers or promoters, make sure your customers know who you’ve partnered with so they can stay wise to other sites that may be trying to make a quick profit off of your customers.
Beat Them at Their Own Game
While there has been a recent backlash against 3rd party resellers, you can actually use these sites to your advantage. Many of these sites sell real, authentic tickets, but at an exorbitant price far above face value. Once a ticket buyer realizes how much a face value ticket costs compared to the price of the ticket they just purchased, it can reflect poorly on your organization. Your customers are already shopping around for the best deal, so why not save them from getting swindled?
Saving a number of your tickets to sell at face value on these sites actually takes the power away from dishonest resellers because it forces them to have to match the best deal on their own platform. By adding tickets at face value, the resellers will be forced to match the price or risk losing out on selling their tickets at all.
Tickets as Unique as Your Event
If you’re offering printed tickets, try incorporating some customization into your ticket stock. Some thermal ticket printers allow you to print logos and black images on the ticket, which can deter some scammers. If you want to take it to the next level, spring for tickets with watermarks, embedded images only visible via black light, or foil printed tickets. These aspects may cost a bit extra upfront, but they’ll make your tickets more visually appealing and make them much more difficult to duplicate.
Scannable Barcodes and Extra Validation
These days, scanning tickets has become an industry standard. Including a unique barcode on each ticket is the best way to ensure counterfeit tickets are caught at the door. Each barcode can only be scanned once, meaning if someone made a copy of a valid ticket and entered the event first, your customers could be left out in the cold. Luckily, there are ways around this.
Each barcode has a unique number attached to it that can be referenced to the original order, and that order will be tied to a customer, so you can validate that the person attempting to use the tickets is the correct person. By adding an extra level of validation at the door, such as a printed will call list or the requirement to show ID when presenting tickets, you can cut down on people trying to enter your event for free. Still, unhappy customers at the door mean bad word of mouth for your event, so it’s always important to try and put measures in place to avoid these types of situations ahead of time.