It’s that most wonderful time of the year when people are making plans and choosing what to do and see when family comes to town for the holidays. Arts organizations including The 5th Avenue Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Symphony, and Seattle Theatre Group are joining forces to encourage potential ticket buyers to be certain the website they are buying from is the official website of the show they wish to attend.
Third party ticket-brokers, a business practice that is legal in the state of Washington, frequently purchase blocks of tickets for a variety of performances, and then resell those tickets to the public for as much as double or triple the cost they paid for them. The brokers typically go to great effort to make their website look as official as possible, which can be confusing to the average patron browsing for tickets.
How to Tell If You Are on a Broker Site
- Did you click on the very first search result? Frequently broker sites pay large sums of money to appear high in the search results – an amount that most non-profit arts organizations cannot compete with.
- Look at the name of the website both in the search results, and once you’ve clicked on the page, in the tab at the top of your browser. Typically, an arts organization will identify itself as “The Official Site” of the organization you are trying to visit. Keep an eye out for this key terminology!
- Look for an “About” page. Does the website have an area where you can learn more about the history and the values of the company you are attending?
- Read the fine print. Third party brokers are required to let you know that they are in no way affiliated with the organization for which they are selling tickets, and usually this information is posted in many places. You just have to make sure to read it!
- Are there many shows available for sale, and the website is not Ticketmaster, Brown Paper Tickets, or com? Many organizations sell tickets to patrons directly through their own website. However, some do not have this capability and enlist a service like Ticketmaster to handle this for them. Or in some cases, the touring artist contractually sells tickets through Ticketmaster so their fans nationwide know where to find them.
Myths We Learn from Broker Sites
- Theater is too expensive for me to bring my family. This is simply not true! Theater, dance, and music companies want to bring in audiences that represent their entire community. Brokers will frequently double or triple the cost of the tickets they resell, leading people to believe that a night out is a major financial splurge.
- I can’t buy tickets to a show because my schedule might change. Unfortunately, when a person buys a ticket from a broker, they miss out on the great customer service that arts organizations provide. Friendly box office staff members are happy to help audience members exchange their tickets into a different performance (usually for a nominal fee).
- Theaters have terrible customer service. When tickets are purchased from a broker, the theater loses the opportunity to make direct contact with the customer. If a patron wishes to try to exchange tickets into another performance (a service some theaters allow for a nominal fee), inquire about handicap accessibility, learn the runtime of the performance, or find out more about parking, the patron has no way to reach the theater directly. In some cases, brokers have continued to sell tickets to performances that were cancelled very early on. Patrons then are in the awkward position of arriving at the theater for a cancelled show after the box office has closed.
Remember, be careful out there and make sure you visit the show’s official site to purchase tickets!
There are many great upcoming holiday shows to choose from. Here are a few: A Christmas Story, The Musical (November 25-December 30, 2014), A Christmas Carol (November 28-December 28, 2014), Nutcracker (November 28-December 28, 2014), Seattle Men’s Chorus …Our Gay Apparel (November 29-December 22, 2014), All the Way (November 14, 2014-January 4, 2015), Holiday Pops with Cirque Musica (December 5-7, 2014), Handel’s Messiah (December 19-21, 2014), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (December 2-7, 2014), and Disney & Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins (November 13, 2014-January 4, 2015 – Issaquah or January 9-February 8, 2015 – Everett).