Making things harder online

- May 13, 2008

I’ve always believed that technology, like the web, should be an enabler. It should make things easier, not harder.

When I research and shop online, I have reasonable, but elevated, expectations. I expect that the process of learning about a product or service and making a purchase will be as easy as it is in person or over the phone. I place extra emphasis on this because I have two children and extra-curricular activities; so most of my online shopping takes place in the wee hours of the night.

As a teenager, I remember lining up for concert tickets the night before they went on sale. A lot of fun for a teenager, but I’m much happier to pick and choose my tickets online. Yet, because most ticket sales go through TicketMaster â„¢, or are self served via or other solutions, it’s usually is a disappointing experience.

Occasionally, my wife and I will make it to a concert, but mostly we purchase tickets to sporting events. Baseball, in particular, is an event where the guy sitting across the aisle from you could be paying $20 less per ticket. I only care about my view and like to compare many options, something that most ticket services make very difficult online.

For Example: Looking for tickets for my beloved Cubbies, seating options include only Best Available (Read: Most expensive.) or you can pick a section that has availability for your game of choice. After choosing a section and entering the security image code, your tickets are displayed and the problems begin:

  1. You are only shown one option in that section. Why not give 4-5 best options in the section that you selected? All seats in a section are not created equal!
  1. To request different seats you have to start over! You have to select a section, enter the security code again, etc. and when you get to the new ticket selection, your other options are gone. Why can’t you just click on the displayed seating chart? Why can’t they follow Amazon’s Lead by offering additional recommendations: “If you like Terrace Reserved, you may also like these wonderful bleacher seats?” Or better yet, multiple seats in every section — have everything available on one page!

What’s most frustrating to me is that if I was purchasing in person or over the phone, the rep would quickly offer many available options. Why would you want your website to make it harder for your customers to do business with you?

Enter StubHub. StubHub is a ticket reselling marketplace that was acquired by eBay last year. I had the pleasure of using StubHub to look for tickets to a sold out game that I wanted to attend.

StubHub is what online ticket buying should be:

Select the event, select buy or sell and all available tickets are displayed. Results are sortable by quantity, section, row and price. And perhaps the best innovation, an interactive seating chart. As you rollover sections at your venue, the number of tickets and price range are displayed for each section and you can even turn on and off individual sections on the map.

I hope that the entrenched players learn something from StubHub and make online ticket buying what it should be — Easy.

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