SeatGeek allows ticket holders to cancel for a credit at least 72 hours before a live event

October 5, 2021

The pandemic introduced a whole new level of uncertainty into planning a night out. But now, SeatGeek says it will offer a credit for any ticket returned at least 72 hours before the event, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The live-event ticketing platform SeatGeek—founded in 2007 and based in New York City—has begun giving buyers the option to return their ticketsfor any reason—and get a credit toward another event.

Its new feature, called SeatGeek Swaps, gives buyers who return their tickets at least 72 hours before any event a promotional credit equal to the purchase price and any fees paid.

SeatGeek told the Journal that it is offering the alternative just  as the pandemic has pushed all manner of purchases—not just tickets—online, and introduced new uncertainty into planning nights out.

“When you look at how people use their phones, and what they expect of the product, people expect more flexibility and expect things to be on-demand, expect to not be locked into something for the long term,” said Jack Groetzinger, a co-founder and the chief executive of SeatGeek.

The new feature could have trickle-down effects across the ticketing and reselling industry, analysts said. Currently, many ticket sellers and marketplaces offer refunds only under specific circumstances, like canceled events, and sell ticket insurance that covers certain changes in plans.

Online sales of event tickets in the United States, including sales and resales, is expected to increase 4.7% between now and 2026 to $7.9 billion, according to IBISWorld, a research firm.

The ticket sales industry is crowded, with powers like Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, facing off against rivals like SeatGeek, StubHubEventbrite, and Gametime.

Sellers on the platform receive payment for their tickets even if buyers return them, the company said. SeatGeek will put the returned tickets back up for sale. Ticket brokers and fans, who comprise the vast majority of sellers on the platform, have been automatically added to the swaps program.

But the swaps program might not work smoothly for all venues. SeatGeek is consulting with those that sell season tickets, for instance, to see how the feature could work for them, according to the company. The considerations of venues also differ from those of individuals—for example, venues need to make sure ticket holders show up to buy things like drinks and snacks.

SeatGeek decided to issue credits for returns instead of cash back to avoid potential fraud issues, company executives said. Credits also keep consumers and their money within SeatGeek.

A service like SeatGeek Swaps offers consumers greater freedom in their choices that other platforms don’t have and which may end up encouraging buyers to use SeatGeek over others, said Paul Hardart, director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology program at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“For the customer, it gives them some optionality that they didn’t have before,” Hardart said. “A lot of that is perceived value, but it is real. You have that choice to get out of it and that might encourage people. Especially during COVID, a lot of people are hesitant to commit to anything too far in advance.”

Research contact: @WSJ

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