Ticket resale has become a massive industry, with sites like Ticketmaster providing platforms for buyers and sellers to exchange tickets for sold out events. However, not all tickets end up selling through these resale marketplaces. So what exactly happens when a ticket is listed for resale but doesn’t end up selling? Here is an overview of the policies and processes for unsold resale tickets on Ticketmaster.
Why Tickets May Not Sell
There are a few key reasons why a resale ticket may not end up selling on Ticketmaster:
- The ticket is overpriced – If the seller sets a resale price that is too high, above what buyers are willing to pay, there may not be any takers.
- The event is not in high demand – Unpopular events or dates with low attendance will have less demand for resale tickets.
- The ticket is listed too close to the event – Buyers tend to purchase resale tickets well in advance. Listings made right before the event date have a lower chance of selling out.
- The ticket details are unclear – Missing seat numbers, obstructed views etc. can deter buyers from purchasing a listing.
- Technical issues – Glitches with the resale platform may also prevent sales.
Sellers have to strike that balance between pricing their tickets attractively while still making a profit. Listings need to go up early, with clear ticket details, to maximize visibility and sales potential.
What Happens to Unsold Tickets on Ticketmaster?
Ticketmaster has specific policies in place to deal with resale tickets that are listed but go unsold. There are a few potential scenarios:
1. Ticket Reverts to Original Seller
Most often, an unsold resale ticket will automatically revert back to the seller if not purchased by the resale listing end time.
On Ticketmaster, sellers can set a specific resale end date and time when listing their tickets. If the ticket does not sell by that resale end date, it expires and the rights to the ticket revert to the seller.
The original ticket then goes back into the seller’s Ticketmaster account. They can hold onto the ticket and use it themselves or opt to list it again for resale if they choose.
2. Ticket is Remotely Archived by Seller
Instead of having an unsold ticket automatically revert back, some Ticketmaster sellers opt to use the platform’s “Remote Archive” feature instead.
This allows the seller to manually expire and archive a listing that has not sold yet. Like reverting, this returns the ticket to the seller’s account. But they have more control to end the listing early and archive the unsold ticket on their own schedule.
For example, a seller may choose to remotely archive a ticket listing 1-2 weeks before the event if they see it has little selling activity. This gives them extra time to try relisting the ticket or use it another way.
3. Ticketmaster Cancels the Listing
In some cases, Ticketmaster may cancel an active resale listing if it violates any of their policies. For example:
- The ticket is identified as fraudulent or counterfeit.
- The listing price is deemed unfairly inflated beyond market value.
- The seller is found to be in violation of Ticketmaster’s terms of service.
A ticket cancelled by Ticketmaster is removed from the resale marketplace altogether. The seller will lose their rights to the ticket.
4. Seller’s Account is Deactivated
If a seller on Ticketmaster repeatedly violates policies, their account can be deactivated. This removes the ability to relist or use any unsold tickets they still have in their account.
In summary, unsold resale tickets usually revert to the seller or are archived remotely. But violations may also result in listings being cancelled or accounts deactivated entirely.
What Does the Seller Do with an Unsold Ticket?
Once an unsold resale ticket ends up back in the hands of the original seller, they have a few options:
- Attend the event – They can simply keep the reverted ticket and use it to attend the event themselves.
- Re-list the ticket – The seller can list the unsold ticket for resale again. They may adjust the price, details or timing in hopes of having better luck selling it on the second try.
- Sell outside Ticketmaster – Some sellers opt to list unsold tickets through other platforms like Craigslist, eBay, Stubhub etc. after exhausting their Ticketmaster options.
- Exchange for another event – If available, the ticket holder may be able to exchange the unsold ticket for another event in the future.
- Request a refund – In very limited cases, the original ticket purchase may be refundable if the resale listing expires. Refund eligibility depends on the original point of ticket purchase.
- Simply forfeit the ticket – If the seller does not expect to resell or use the ticket, they may abandon it and let the seat go empty.
Re-listing on Ticketmaster or another secondary marketplace is the most common next step. But attending themselves or exchanging for a different event are also viable options a seller may pursue.
Ticketmaster Resale Data and Statistics
To better understand trends around unused tickets, here are some statistics pulled from Ticketmaster’s resale platform over the past year:
|Percent of Tickets Resold
On average, about 15% of tickets are listed for resale across all events. Sporting events see the highest resale rate at 20% of all tickets.
Sell Through Rates
|Percent Sold on Resale
Of the tickets listed for resale, approximately 80% actually end up selling across all categories. Sporting events see the highest sell through rates at 90% of all resale listings.
Average Time to Sell Out
|Avg. Days to Sell Out
On Ticketmaster, resale listings take around 2 weeks on average to sell out. Sporting event tickets tend to sell fastest within 6 days, while theater shows take the longest at 20 days.
Top Reasons Tickets Are Unsold
- Overpriced listing
- Low demand event
- Listed too close to event date
- Lack of ticket details
- Seller changed plans
Based on internal data, the top factors contributing to unsold resale tickets are: overpricing, low demand events, last minute listings, missing ticket details, and changed plans by the seller. Avoiding these pitfalls can increase sell through rates.
Impacts of Leftover Tickets
When resale tickets go unsold, it can have some broader impacts across the live event experience:
Both the primary ticket sellers and resellers lose potential revenue when resale tickets expire unsold. Ideally tickets would be sold at some price point acceptable to both buyers and sellers. Empty seats represent lost income for stakeholders.
Worse Event Experience
Sparse audiences due to unsold ticket allotments can negatively impact the event experience. Empty seats spread throughout a venue can dampen the energy and atmosphere.
Inflated Secondary Market
Excess unsold inventory sitting on the resale market can distort prices and availability. This floods the secondary market and may inflate prices if supply outpaces demand.
Lack of Reliable Ticketing Data
Predicting accurate ticket sales and event attendance becomes more difficult when an excessive portion of tickets are unsold resales. Forecasting models and revenue projections depend on reliably filling seats.
Best Practices to Maximize Resale
Here are some best practices fans and ticket sellers can follow to help minimize unused tickets and maximize resales:
For Fans Looking to Buy
- Be flexible on seating options unless you need a specific location
- Monitor listings across multiple resale sites
- Act quickly when you find seats you want
- Be open to last minute deals on unsold tickets
Having some flexibility on seating and acting quickly on desirable listings can help fans find good ticket deals. Monitoring multiple resale sites opens up more options.
For Sellers Listing Resales
- Price competitively based on demand trends
- List extra tickets you can’t use well in advance
- Provide detailed ticket information like seat numbers, views etc.
- Don’t wait until the last minute if tickets remain unsold
Competitive pricing, early listings, detailed listings, and being proactive on unsold tickets can help sellers maximize their chances of completing a resale.
The Bottom Line
When Ticketmaster resale listings expire unsold, the tickets predominantly revert back to the original seller’s account. They can then opt to attend the event, relist the ticket, sell it elsewhere, exchange it, or forfeit the unused seat entirely.
Careful pricing, timing, and listing practices for both buyers and sellers can help minimize unsold resale tickets. This improves the live event experience while reducing losses and distortions across the secondary ticketing marketplace.