Dave Wakeman Talks Tickets

It is time again to visit with my friend Dave Wakeman, host of The Business of Fun podcast, and well-respected thinker about everything tickets and marketing. The shifting economic tide is changing consumer behaviors. In the initial post pandemic return to live events, there was a demand for live entertainment.

LibsynDave Wakeman’s The Business of Fun Podcast

People who had been kept home for nearly two years were ready to get out, get public and see a performance. Tickets sold fast, and events sold out. That rush lasted more than a year and fueled a perception that there was no upper limit on prices. Dynamic pricing was installed in ticketing plans for big events and small. Platinum and VIP ticketing became a bigger segment of the market and money flowed quickly from consumers to promoters.

However, the world being what it is, as inflation kicked in, and as central banks reacted, demand began to fall. The triple whammy of interest rates, higher housing and fuel prices and the fear of an oncoming recession put the brakes on what had been previously seen as an unstoppable demand.

Because tickets are sold in the present for events in the future, this shift was first observable in the secondary ticket markets, where prices began to fall sharply. Music festival wristbands traded for as little as half price, and resale tickets for smaller shows resold for as low as $6, the minimum price most markets will allow.

These trends and how teams, performers and promoters should consider them are the provenance of Wakeman, a noted expert on marketing of tickets. He consults for teams, leagues, and the marketing departments of companies across the live entertainment space.

In our conversation, we looked at how inflation is hitting the spending capacity of fans, the ways in which the market is distorted because of people still holding tickets for shows which were originally sold prior to the pandemic and how demand is shifting in real time, but the results of that shift are not yet clearly represented in the historical data trends.

It took a little goading, but Dave got fully engaged explaining how he sees the trouble in many current marketing strategies. His primary job is telling sales teams their job as a marketer is to find out what the customer wants. Ticket sellers have an intrinsic bias unless it is supported by data, research, and customer feedback. Dave believes the current pricing and marketing models are ten years out of date.

Below, in video and audio podcast formats is our conversation. Dave is always engaging and interesting. He raised interesting questions about the ways baseball is trying to utilize their anti-trust exemption, and how the new ticket laws just passed in New York will affect consumer and ticketing company behavior. For certain, Dave has plenty to say.

Dave is known for his weekly newsletter Talking Tickets and for his no holds barred position that what worked in the past is not a prescription for how to sell in the future. Dave believes that data analysis is key to building a workable marketing plan, and that discounting is anathema to any credible sales department.

SubstackTalking Tickets!

There is never a clear predictor of the future. What there is always though are people schooled in how to analyze the present and apply the lessons of the past to help predict the most likely path forward. That’s what Dave does, and why so many listen when he talks. He’s on the pulse of the markets as you would expect from someone who has spent a lifetime developing marketing plans and building strategy.


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