1. Context and Background
The Online Event Ticket Sales
industry has grown dramatically in both major fields from physical tickets and
electronic or at-home printing. The industry revenue marked $5.0bn in 2016 and PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PwC) anticipated that amount will reach $24bn in 2021 by almost 3% annual
growth, according to Technavio report (2017). In the UK, 30.9 million audiences
attended to live concerts and festivals last year, contributing £4.5bn to the
economy and the annual growth rate will hit 12% in 2017 (Ellis-Petersen, 2017).
On the other hand, since the beginning of ticket sales for events, the practice
of ticket scalping already existed. That terms is defined as the process in
which people buying tickets with the profitable purpose of reselling those
(Williams, 1994). The survey result conducted by Competition and Markets
Authority (CMA) reveals that the industry is threatened by touts and scalpers
via secondary marketplaces (Davies and Treanor, 2017). Thereby, more than 80%
of participants said secondary ticketing was a ‘rip-off’ to any genuine fans
and they should be fined by the government. Adele London tour on June 2017 was
a realistic example of how exactly the prices was broken from face value £80 to
£10000 despite singer’s efforts to stop the touts. This study will further
discuss the hazard of scalpers as well as answering the topic question ” How
online primary outlets prevent scalpers from harvesting concert tickets to
satisfy genuine fan’s demand”
2. Literature Review
Technavio (2017) has published an
analysis of the UK global secondary ticket market revealing the secondary
marketplaces is expected to experience growth during the period 2016 and 2021
which will triple up the value at $3.53bn in 2021, compared to 2016.
Analysts anticipated the number of
people attending live events is growing with the rise in number of concerts and
live performances. In the UK, the secondary market is dominated by the big
four, namely ViaGoGo, Stubhub, Seatwave, and Getmein which the two latter are
owned by Ticketmaster- the global leading primary ticket marketplace (Dedman,
(Could compare primary ticket to secondary ticket)
Traditionally, the terms of
reselling tickets were strictly regulated by the states in which touts could
get a serious fine up 50 times to the ticket face value (Moore, 2017).
Nowadays, due to the massive development of technology and Internet, the
stringent regulation are apparently gone. Moore argued that while anti-scalping
legislation witnessed difficulties to enforce prior to online sales, Internet
ticket reselling simply exacerbated the problem. Boyle and Chiou (2011) agreed
that no federal law currently regulates ticket scalping and states tend to
devise their own policies for monitoring the ticket resale. In contrast,
IBISWorld Market Analyst Petrillo (2016) investigated that the majority of
industry regulations relate to privacy laws and protection of consumer’s right.
In February 2015, New rules in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 was reluctantly
introduced by the UK government due to the growing clamour for action, thereby
details of ticket such as block, row, seat number, and face value must be
clearly stated when anyone intends to resell tickets (Jones, 2015).
From another perspective, the
Economist Courty (2017) interprets technology has completely renovated the
ticketing industry, but also there are also security gaps for profiteering
activities. When the tickets are available to purchase via online platform such
as Ticketmaster, Seetickets, scalpers operate computer software programs called
(ro)bots to automatically harvest dozends of tickets within a matter of
seconds. Ken Lowson- one the most infamous ticket scalper as known as the one
breaking Ticketmaster confessed on Motherboard magazine that his bots can scrape
998 tickets out of 1000 on presale (Koebler 2017). Ticketmaster’s anti-bot
CAPTCHA system was originally used for presale access, which requires buyers to
crossed out or fuzzy words to prove that action is made by human.
Unfortunately, it becomes a piece of cake for scalpers like Jason, he
recognized that the system only stores 30k images instead of 1 million as
advert. Therefore, all these images were downloaded as .jpeg file, bots are
encrypted to learn how to match the images and that would totally knock down
the Ticketmaster system.
The research illustrates the process of identifying core connectors and
the development of thoughts and theories related to the research topic. The
framework at hand discusses about the Jon Gibb’s model ‘Cyberscalping On-line
Ticket Sales’. He found out two Internet scalping models that comprises the
typical relationship between sellers and buyers. The initial model describes an
intrastate transaction that is equivalent to a typical scalping transaction.
For instance, a vendor in Seatle, which prohibiting reselling privacy complied
by with the SMC section 5.40.060 regulation (J. Glantz, 2005), selling tickets via online ticket marketplaces. Unlike the inception
idea of this regulation, the majority of ticket brokers acquired enough skills
to break the system. Another scheme which Jon Gibb figured out is the online
transaction could be made in the city A for event in the city B but run by
promoter in the city C. Hence, the Internet enables everyone participate in the
ticket reselling industry by simple equipment such as computer, Internet access
and a bank card.
4. Philosophical Stance
In that research,
positivism research philosophy is mainly utilised in which the ‘ticket broker’
terms will be scientifically and widely explained based on large population of
primary and secondary data. The research progresses would go through different
hypotheses and deductions of how people profiteering by selling tickets,
following by the solutions to prevent this issue. Karl Popper- the 20th
century’s most influential theorist of the scientific method asserted that
there were limits to scientific knowledge because as human we all have limits
about what we possibly understand (Iep.utm.edu,
5. Methodology framework
This sections would indicate the design for the research which elaborates
on selective methodology approach. The main part combines quantitative and qualitative
research following by secondary research. To be defined, a quantitative
approach focuses on the results from a large population, synthesis and analysis
(Peer, 2017). The key instrument utilised for the quantitative research is an
online questionnaire that was created to retrieve statistical data about the
research population. Meanwhile, secondary research aims to extract the radical
issues via selected empirical investigation and specific events that was ruined
by ticket scalpers. The methods used for five different sub questions are
further explained in the detail below.
Main question: How to prevent scalpers from
harvesting concert tickets to satisfy genuine fan’s demand?
question would be clearly answered by different sub-questions and therefore no research
is relatively linked to the
Sub question 1: How can ticket scalpers harvest the ticket?
This sub question will be answered
by secondary research via ticket industry reports and market analyst journal.
Sub question 2: To what extent are secondary marketplaces accused of facilitating
The answer will be investigated through
desk search and quantitative research gathering information via questionnaire.
Critical Evaluation Method is fully utilized to answer this question.
Sub question 3: How primary outlets react to the hazard of tout?
The analysis will takes a step
further to the sub question 2. For this question, secondary research is the
main weapon following by the qualitative and quantitative research.
Sub question 4: Have government policy been strict enough to deterrence ticket brokers?
Secondary research including Government
report, Company report will be used. Also qualitative research method such as
Focus group interview is supportive measurement.
Sub question 5: The solution for primary ticket outlets and government
Seeking solutions is what the sub
question 5 aiming to, it evaluates solutions that have already applied in the
real world. Moreover, a suitable framework to tackle issues based on researches
and insider analysis.
To retrieve the research data, two
instruments are used which include an online survey for the research population
to cover sub question 2 & 3. Whilst, focus group interview is applied for
deeper research on sub question 4 &5.
For quantitative part of the
research, a questionnaire is designed using the Google Forms online tool to
collect data. The questionnaire starts off with basic questions asking about
participant’s information such as gender, age, occupation following by their
taste of preference in music industry and concert attendance. To specify the
customer’s opinion, the questionnaire continues with their past experiences on
buying ticket and how they think about secondary marketplaces. They are also
asked about the rating on Big Four Secondary ticketing companies in the UK
including Viagogo, Getmein, Stubhub and Seatwave (Thomas. 2016). Eventually,
participants are inquired to give their judgment on the touts’ action and how
to prevent them. Stratified sampling is used to select respondents from the UK,
collectively prefer 50 people from each region including Northern Ireland,
Wales, England and Scotland.
As an efficient tool for qualitative
data collection, focus group usually consists a small group of people between
six and nine to explore attitudes and perception, feelings and ideas about the
topic (Denscombe, 2007). Purposive sampling would help to locate where the
information-rich are in order to produce a comprehensive data. Hence, people
who have practical experience and background on one of the big four companies
would be kindly invited.
The research ethics are taken into
account when conducting primary research and strictly followed by research
method ethics principles. It is a combination of (1) informed consent, (2)
reduce the harmful risks toward participants, (3) protect their anonymity and
confidentiality, (4) avoid using deceptive practices and (5) allow participants
full rights to withdraw from the research (Dissertation.laerd.com, 2017). The dissertation research have to imply all
five principles throughout the whole process.
The goal of data analysis is to
describe the findings whereby descriptive analysis is chosen for this research,
which deliver clear and precise results. Bar chart, pie chart and line chart
are designed from the online questionnaire data responded then it being
critically analyzed and evaluated. Simultaneously, qualitative coding analysis
accomplishes the focus group interview collected data in order to highlight the
distinguished concepts and categories.
Due to the deficient time amount in
the research, there are some limitation in collecting data from respondent. As
the goal of sampling method was 200 people coming the U.K, the data recorded
only 160 people and most of them are from England. It could lead to the bias in
analyzing data and conclude an uncomprehensive framework.
For secondary research, the topic is
comparatively sensitive as it relates to the government policy which was
unsuccessfully to regulate the reselling ethics in the past decade. Because
information about policy and regulation are not easily accessible, the scope of
research tends to be niche. The analysis of data could be more accurate and
detailed if researchers have access to private business and industry reports.
There were also limited capabilities
to extract data into information due to the low technology skills of
researcher. Microsoft Excel is the only
software that was used to extract the data. Using more advanced analysis
techniques, more appropriate results could have been retrieved and more sound
conclusions could have been drawn up.