Thursday, April 24, 2008

StubHub Selling Experience

All season long, I’ve had hockey tickets I couldn’t use. Generally I liked to sell the tickets off in pairs at cost. I calculated that for my section, tickets were about $30 a pair, which is an excellent discount off face value. I’m not interested in gouging my friends, so I didn’t. However, this lucky wombat has NHL playoff tickets in her hot little hands. I’m completely gobsmacked about it, but I couldn’t shake the thought that my tickets are a saleable asset. Due to the time-value of tickets, I had to decide quickly if I wanted to sell a pair off.

Because Washington is ranked 3rd in the standings, we’re playing the #6 team and we get home ice for the first two games. Since we’re playing the Flyers and the teams are evenly matched, there is a high likelihood that the series will return to DC for a 3rd home game. I couldn’t shake the fact that I could sell a pair of my tickets and possibly pay for all my conference quarterfinal tickets AND still have enough to buy one of those spiffy new red Reebok hockey jerseys the Capitals got this season. (The old black jersery was ugly as sin.)

I agonized over this decision. I feel like financially, it would be stupid not to recoup some of ticket cost. But lifetime experience-wise, it could be another 10 years before the Capitals make it to the playoffs again. What is a girl to do?

I started cruising StubHub, an eBay owned website for ticket auctions, and looked at playoff ticket prices. I figured that I would price the starting price very high with a high reserve price. Then if they didn’t sell, I wouldn’t feel stupid and I could still go to the game myself. In doing so, I priced my tickets STUPIDLY HIGH. I would never have paid 4-5 times the face value. But in reading all the listings for tickets, I realized that the insanely high price I was setting could be justified.

1. My seats are in the 400-level, close to the aisle, concessions and bathrooms.

2. Most seats on sale are in the rear of the section, but mine are pretty close to the front of the section.

3. As a season ticket holder, my playoff tickets are spiffy red with a silver Stanley Cup to commemorate the occaision.

Most sellers put a stupid comment on their listing. It’s pathetic what they’re writing. “RD1 GM2″ Of course it’s Round 1, Game 2, that’s what the ticket link said in the first place. Why place redundant information? Instead, I put exactly why my tickets were freakin’ awesome. “Commemorative tickets close to aisle (2 seats away) Close to concessions and bathrooms” BADA-BING! I got $170 for a $37 ticket!

StubHub takes a 15% commission. I asked for a check to be mailed to me, instead of PayPal because I wasn’t sure if there was going to be an extra fee by PayPal, which also happens to be an eBay company. I wasn’t interested in a potential double dip, so I’ll wait a little for the money to reach me. It took some doing to find a FedEx envelope and drop off point since I don’t work at a place with a regular FedEx pickup, but boyfriend was able to take care of that for me and it was pretty simple.

Bottom line:

1. Market your tickets well.
Give the buyer a reason to buy your tickets over someone else’s tickets. Of course, be truthful too because they will know if you lied once they get the tickets.

2. Price the tickets to sell, but don’t be dumb about it. StubHub made a suggested selling price based on other/historical selling prices in the system, sort of the way Priceline suggests a bid price based on other bid information. However, I ignored the suggestion because the current prices for playoff tickets were way higher. I used a selling option that lets you set a high price and have it knocked down a little bit each day till a reserve price is reached.

3. Get it done quickly. StubHub relies on FedEx for overnight delivery of tickets. Tickets themselves only have time-value. Sure prices fluctuate, but if there is a frenzy for tickets, you want to leverage that mania for your benefit.

I had a little discussion with friends about why ticket auctions like this are acceptable. Turns out, it’s a lot less illegal than it used to be to sell tickets higher than for face value. So I guess I have to claim this as income on my taxes next year, but I’m ok with that. Main thing is that I’m hoping the Capitals make it to the next round!

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