Ticket brokers gear up for annual holiday events
By Kristina LaFountain
October 7, 2011
With the holidays approaching, ticket brokers are hoping to see an increase in ticket sales for some of the traditional end-of-the-year events.
Some of the hottest Christmastime shows have already earned high spots in TicketNews' exclusive event rankings for the week ending October 2, including rock symphony Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) at No. 4 among concerts, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at No. 4 among Broadway shows.
Every year it seems retailers are eager to sell holiday merchandise even before the season officially starts, and this is no different for ticket brokers looking to sell tickets to some of the Christmas season's most popular shows in these economically challenging times.
Promotion for the 2011 Radio City Christmas Spectacular began as early as August, with an appearance by the Rockettes in Times Square to celebrate "Christmas in August" in anticipation of the popular holiday show.
Randy Cohen, CEO of TicketCity, told TicketNews that, although the company's sales so far this season have been slow for these shows, they are usually profitable events. He expects an increase in sales around the end of October or beginning of November.
J. William Bruce, a sales rep at Applause-Tickets.com, also expected to see sales pick up later in the fall. Although the company has had listings up for the Christmas Spectacular tickets since May, Bruce said they typically do not see a spike in sales until mid-October.
In order to meet demand and reach out to a broader audience, acts such as TSO and Mannheim Steamroller, known for their modern interpretation of Christmas classics, employ the use of two touring groups performing concurrently throughout November and December across the nation.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular also features tour dates in Boston, Nashville and Durham, and similar to TSO, it offers flexibility with afternoon and evening performances.
While these acts offer consumers plenty of choices when it comes to getting their Christmastime concert fix, this saturation of the holiday-related show market makes it difficult for individual ticket brokers looking to make a profit.
"I think the holiday-related show market gets more and more crowded every year," said Cohen. "This presents challenges for increased sales and profitability. That is why we really analyze and pick our spots on what TicketCity is investing in so we can maximize our profits."
Bruce shares the same concerns and explains that Applause now buys tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular based on customer requests rather than buying a large quantity in advance.
While demand for these holiday shows persists, increasing ticket prices as well as the rise in travel costs has also had an effect on the number of people attending these events.
According to Liz McDonnell, an analyst at ticket search engine SeatGeek.com, the average price of a ticket for the TSO Winter Tour 2011 is $127 compared to $102 last year, with the most popular show locations being Hartford and Dallas.
McDonnell also explains that ticket prices for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular seem to be consistent among New York City shows as with road performances. The average price of a ticket for the show in November is $101, compared to $135 in the second half of December.
All three of the popular holiday acts have been around for quite some time: the Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been an NYC Christmas tradition for the past 78 years; the Mannheim Steamroller tour is now in its 26th year; TSO is the newest of the three, in its 15th year.
"There are a large number of people who come to New York to specifically see [The Radio City Christmas Spectacular]," Bruce said. "Every year we have many return customers who come here around the same time every year and book tickets to see the show, as well as the new hot shows, like this year's big hits ' The Book of Mormon' and 'War Horse.'" While it is still early in the 2011 holiday ticket season, McDonnell said that increased ticket prices say something about the demand for these shows.
"All I can say is that secondary market ticket prices are stronger ($127 versus $102)," said McDonnell. "It's hard to compare anything else (like sales volume) because the info from last year is comprehensive and we're (of course) not that far into the season yet in 2011."
McDonnell added, "But we always say that increased secondary market prices indicate increased demand, so I think that $25 increase is significant."