The UK rollout of AEG’s much-trumpeted new ticket service has attracted a lot of media attention, and some publications seem skeptical of it being more fan-friendly than perennial whipping boy Ticketmaster.
The UK launch of the operation, which had the Sunday Times reporting “AEG Goes To War With Ticketmaster,” follows its successful introduction at venues throughout the U.S.
“After AXS saw a successful rollout at venues throughout the US, the O2 in London will now be powered by AXS.com,” AXS Europe vice president Dean DeWulf explained.
“We are truly changing the way people buy tickets. We believe buying a ticket to see your favourite artist should be simple, convenient, social and fair. AXS.com is built around the fan,” he said.
The new service becomes operative for the two Girls Aloud shows scheduled for London’s O2 arena next March, which were launched at a glitzy press conference at the city’s Corinthia Hotel Oct. 19, and it will then be expanded to cover other AEG-promoted events.
“We are not focussed on any particular ticketing agent. Our focus is simply the fan and providing a better ticket buying experience,” said an AEG spokesman when responding to the Sunday Times’ suggestion that AEG is going to war with Ticketmaster, a point that’s since been repeated by the Daily Telegraph.
The new AXS.com platform is setting out to transform the fan’s ticket buying experience by saving time and providing groundbreaking benefits “never before available to gig-goers.”
These benefits include helping fans reserve adjacent seats for friends so they can sit together. Once the seats are reserved, buyers can invite friends to buy the nearby seats via Facebook or emailing helping groups who want to sit together while avoiding anyone having to pay up-front for all of the seats.
The site also has a “waiting room,” which opens shortly before a public onsale, and gives fans greater visibility into the buying process by displaying event details, pricing and ticket information. It’s aimed at shortening the time it takes to buy a ticket, allowing buyers to enter payment details and view available seats before general tickets go on sale.
Neither side is prepared to say how much business the new system is expected to earn for AEG or cost Ticketmaster in sales, something that would depend on where the show promoters decide to allocate their tickets.
A quick comparison of the costs of buying tickets through AXS and Ticketmaster suggests the latter is still competitive on price. Taking into account facility fees, service and postal charges, a ticket to see Nas at the O2 – which has a face value of £39 ($62.21) – would cost £61.25 ($97.70) via AXS and £55.90 ($89.16) via Ticketmaster.
Tickets to see “The Hit Factory” at the same venue, which have a face value of £49.50 ($78.95), cost £75.45 ($120.35) through AXS and £73 ($116.44) through Ticketmaster.
Ticketmaster has also been getting flak from Which magazine for charging fans £2.50 (about $4) to print tickets at home. The consumer paper said the fee charged for printing at home is often only a little less than the cost of having the tickets delivered.
The U.S. ticketing giant says the $4 or so fee covers admin costs at their end as well as the cost reading and validating tickets at the venues.