Saturday, 11 August 2012

Why Was it So Hard to Buy Olympic Tickets?

Dominating the headlines for the last week have been stories about the sheer amount of empty seats, how hard it has been get tickets to events and the problems that official seller, Ticketmaster, have faced during the entire ticket-buying process. Here are some of the ways they could have improved the experience.

- Improve the appearance of the website
The London Olympics is one of the most anticipated events on the planet. The website really doesn’t reflect the excitement and significance of the event – it feels rather boring and uninspiring unlike the Olympics itself!
- Have a helpful search filter
When searching for tickets, the website forces you to search by venue or event – which there are a lot of. This is extremely time consuming as 9 times out of 10, there are no tickets and the process resembles finding a needle in a haystack. What would have made more sense is being able to search by date or just list all available tickets!
- Only show available price brackets
In the unlikely event that you actually find available tickets for a sport you want to see, all the price bracket prices are shown. This is deceiving as it suggests that the whole range of prices are available. Tickets can cost from £20.12 to £2,012. There is nothing worse than the disappointment you feel once you realise the two tickets you have found will cost you a lot more money.
- Lower ticket prices for that matter!
Lower prices = more tickets sold, meaning less empty seats in the first place! At a time of recession in the UK wouldn’t have been fantastic to see tickets fairly made available to everyone regardless of income?
- Selected ticket doesn’t mean reserved ticket
The heartbreak doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve found the tickets, happy with the price you are going to pay, you go straight to the checkout, right? –  wrong. Your ‘selected tickets’ are not yours yet – and may not even exist. You’re then put in a queue whilst Ticketmaster actually checks if there are tickets available for sale. If you get past this stage you are one of the lucky ones!
- Applying a purchase time countdown
The main source of Ticketmaster’s problems is the slow updates on which tickets are available. This is a problem they experienced while selling tickets for the Beijing Olympics too.  Having a reservation countdown once a user has selected tickets would mean a lot less disappointment and a few more happy customers. We think this would create a fairer system so customers know how long they’ve got to complete the purchase, just like we have on!
- Avoid selling tickets for same/following day events
Although LOCOG’s (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) releasing of unused tickets is combating the whole empty seat problem, selling tickets for the day or following day doesn’t give much of a chance to those living outside London or near other venues. A lot of the re-released tickets go on sale a few hours before the event starts which doesn’t allow people to plan ahead, arrange travel and work and in some cases it is going to put people off buying tickets. Since tickets have started to be re-released, according to Reuters UK, 2.5 million people have been trying to get tickets everyday.
- Keep the website running – even in busy periods
Ticketmaster was selected to be the Olympic ticket seller because of their experience and strong infrastructure. However, throughout the ticket selling process they have had problems with the slow updates of ticket availability. This has affected both the selling and reselling websites. The problems are something that would not be expected of such a massive ticket company, who were thought to be well equipped for a process as big as the Olympics.

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