Oct 23 2007

StubHub Rocks

Brad put up a post last night about how tight StubHub is (see “StubHub Seriously Has Its Act Together“). I promised a post on my rockin’ StubHub experience buying tickets to Game 4 of the NLCS in “Jumping on the bandwagon” so here goes:

The thing about specializing in a specific vertical is that if you get it right, the experience is worlds better than your generalist competitors. When StubHub was started conventional wisdom suggested that eBay had a lock on all things auction. But it turns out that there are plenty of very specific niches for which the eBay one-auction-fits-all model falls short. Ticket sales is clearly one of them. If you’ve ever tried to buy or sell tickets on an eBay auction you know exactly what I mean. Tickets to an event are a highly specialized good – every ticket is not the same (each seat is different and each venue is unique in its seat layout), events are time specific (i.e., they occur at a very specific date and time before which the ticket is valuable and after which the ticket has zero value), there are major logistical challenges with shipping around tickets and ensuring they get where the are supposed to get when they are supposed to get there, and there are significant challenges in dealing with last-minute purchases (transferring the ticket from a buyer to a seller hours or minutes before an event).

Enter StubHub who seems to have this process completely wired.

I hadn’t even thought of trying to go to game four of the NLCS until the morning of the game when my wife suggested that I try to grab tickets and take my dad. I’ve used StubHub before so I quickly headed over to their site. I hadn’t seen the cool mouse-over stadium map that allowed me to quickly figure out the range of ticket prices and seating options available (all without clicking and backclicking, which is a major pain). Three clicks later I had purchased 2 seats to the game about 30 rows up behind 1st base. StubHub has ticket pick-up offices set up near many major venues. In the case of downtown Denver they use a temporary space in LoDo to distribute tickets bought too close to event time to ship them around via FedEx. I arrived right as the office opened and was a little dismayed to see about 200 people already ahead of me. But dealing with large numbers of people descending on a single venue and attempting to pick up their purchased tickets is clearly something StubHub has figured out. Five minutes later I had my tickets in hand and was off to dinner with dad. I watched throughout dinner (which was at the restaurant next door) as the StubHub line snaked around the corner but moved steadily for the 90 minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if 5,000 people (about 10% of the stadium) purchased their tickets through StubHub for this game (they even had computers set up in the pick-up office for people who had procrastinated their purchase until game time).

All I can say is wow. . .