Concert Ticket Insurance: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Here’s a scenario we’ve all faced. Six months out, you buy four tickets for an upcoming concert. You and your partner intend to use the first pair and you’re pretty sure your buddy and his wife will take the second. For five months and three weeks and five days, everything’s good. The four of you have planned out the evening, which includes dinner and drinks.

But suddenly, disaster. The other couple’s child gets sick and they have to bow out of the concert. All your other friends are busy and you have no interest in going through the hassle of selling the tickets on StubHub. You’re stuck with two very expensive concert tickets, a cost you or your buddy will have to eat.

And you wouldn’t be alone. Somewhere between 10-13% of tickets to an event don’t get used in the way they were intended. Some tickets are given away while others are unused. A few others make it into the hands of scalpers or onto the secondary market where they’re sold for grossly inflated prices, profiting only that seller and not the artist or the promoter.

TicketGuardian, a new company out of Newport Beach, California, has a solution to all that: a truly refundable concert ticket technology.

They’re working on a form of concert ticket insurance that would allow someone to get an instant full refund on the face value of a concert ticket right up until the show starts. It would work like this:

  • The price of insurance (a minimum of $2.99 up to 5.5% of the face value of the ticket) would be baked into the purchase of the ticket.
  • If a ticket cannot be used, the purchaser simply enters the ticket number into the TicketGuardian app and BANG! The full face value of the ticket (minus service fees) gets charged back to the purchaser’s credit card within 5-7 days. You’re still down a few bucks, but not the hundreds you might have been otherwise. TicketGuardian takes care of the refund logistics, keeping the ticketseller out of it.

  • That original ticket is assigned a new number and goes back into the ticketseller’s inventory, ready to be sold again to someone who can actually use it. It might sell at the same price or even higher, depending on the demand for that show (Think of the way airlines sell seats. The closer to departure time, the more expensive the ticket.) The extra margin goes to the band and the promoter, not to resellers or scalpers.
  • The ticketseller and promoter also acquire valuable data on customer churn, making planning for future shows easier.
  • Finally, the ticketseller might use the refund data to send the original buyer a message, such as “Hey, we noticed last time [insert name of artist] was in town, you weren’t able to go. [Artist is coming back later this year. Would you like first crack at a pre-sale?” Nice customer service, wot?
  • And before you say “Another fee? This will just increase the price of a concert ticket even more!” Not necessarily. The ticketseller could sell a sponsorship to, say, a beer company, who would then pick up the cost of the ticket insurance for everyone for that particular show. Failing that, the ticketseller could simply offer an opt-out option when the ticket is purchased. Want a ticket without insurance? No problem.

I’ve been wracking my brains on how this could be a bad thing and I’ve come up short. Can anyone think of a good reason any ticket-selling company shouldn’t at least try something like this?




Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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