Would you consider selling your event tickets via auction?

Hi guys!

I have an idea for a third-party application that will work alongside Eventbrite.

Essentially, I sometimes have trouble pricing my events. Either price too high (tickets are slow) or price too low (they’re sold out very quick and I lose value by not charging more).

My idea is to create a plug-in that allows promoters the opportunity to auction off an allocation of their tickets. This can be utilised in a number of ways, but could be used initially as an early-bird tool to help gauge demand and set price or later on to maximise value on unsold inventory.

What are peoples thoughts on this?

All feedback encouraged, especially critical feedback.

Many Thanks,


Sounds interesting, Mike. Could you explain a bit more about how it would work in practice? Would it be like eBay and how long would the auction run for? Would people just enter their maximum bid?

Hi Belinda,

People would enter their maximum bid, and told what the current price is and how many tickets are available.

Once the auction ends, you are allocated a ticket, if you were in the top x amount of bidders.

Theoretically, I think it works well for promoters as they can maximise their revenue whilst still ensuring a sell out.

Potential problems:

  • not everybody wants to hang around in auction waiting to see if they’ve got a ticket. For reasons such as wanting to plan ahead. My counter to this, was to do general sale initially for people that want to plan ahead, and then auction remainder leading up to event. Having chatted with some promoters though, they feel it may look like a flash sale and have negative PR consequences with their brand.

I think it would have to be at the front end and positioned as a way for early bird buyers to maybe get a bargain or otherwise you will have buyers upset that someone who came in late got tickets for less than they paid. It’s an interesting concept though. Let’s see what others think…

Thanks Belinda.

So, are we ruling out running an auction as a last minute solution? Due to the reasons we touched upon?

What if it was explicitly stated by the promoter that unsold tickets will be auctioned off, say 48 hours before.

That way a customer has a choice, buy now, or take a risk and wait for the auction?

Alternatively, the route would be to run an auction to help set the price in the early stages as you describe. Maybe release the first 25% of tickets via auction?

The risk is that people could be incentivised to wait for the auction thinking they will get a better deal.

Just to go back to the mechanics, let’s say you put 25 tickets into the auction, and two people are bidding against each other pushing the price up beyond the maximum bid of everyone else, what’s the final ticket price and how many tickets actually get sold?

Hi Belinda,

This, I suppose, all comes down to the economics of it and whether demand will increase when prices are reduced. If all you get is the same number of people buying tickets but at a reduced price, then undoubtedly it is a bad idea. However, you would have to assume sales would increase and the question then becomes, was it worth it?

For example, 100 tickets at £7.50 is better than 70 tickets at £10.

There is also the social aspect of an event, which doesn’t come into play with say hotels and airlines which share the same concerns as you. I.E. people waiting for last minute deals instead of paying a premium.

There is a social incentive to sell out an event, for customer experience and artists/promoters’ ego, which hotels/airlines don’t have. Customers would actually prefer a plane wasn’t 100% sold-out I imagine.

The cutoff price in this case would be determined by the 25th highest bid, so 2 people wouldn’t be able to drive the price up. You would need 25 people in cahoots.

The mechanics are this:

If 20 tickets are for sale and there are 50 bids.

You take the 20 highest bids and sell at the cutoff price. = 20th bidder.

It seems the biggest negative promoters want to throw at me, is the potential backlash from customers that bought a ticket up front and then seen them being sold cheaper via auction?

Is there any solution for this?

Ok I see how it works. You would need good participation to ensure tickets don’t end up selling really cheaply.

If you wanted to auction off leftover tickets and avoid people who already have tickets being cheesed off you could position it as an auction exclusively for people who have already bought tickets. Therefore allowing them to buy extra tickets for friends at a reduced rate. Just depends on what the demand would be like at that point. Discounts might have to be attractive.

Hi Belinda,

I think if tickets do end up getting sold really cheaply, its less about the auction method and just a lack of demand for the show.

To avoid any people getting cheesed off, hanging around for discounts, etc. An option is to just be up front and auction all of the tickets off.

What would the user experience be like for this?

Would this be a negative experience for a customer? Having to partake in an auction?

I can see a problem in terms of making plans. Can’t book time off work, or book a hotel until you find out if you have won a ticket through the auction?

For the promoter though, this would be the maximum solution in terms of revenue whilst guaranteeing sellout and nobody being cheesed off through inconsistent pricing.

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I do see potential negatives. I guess it depends on how long the auction ran for, you wouldn’t want to be hanging around long to hear if you’d secured tickets. Really, you need to try it on a real event to understand all the potential pros and cons. Is it something you’ve built already or still just a concept?