If there were a Perishable Inventory Consortium of all the industries that deal with expiring inventory (shows, restaurants, hotels, etc.), then the Airline Industry would be its leader (and there should be a conference for all these industries, by the way, sharing best practices between each other).
Why do I nominate the Airline Industry as the King of Perishable Inventory?
Because over the past several decades, it has led the way with its initiatives to sell more tickets and offer move value to its customers. And, like us, the airlines have been up against the ropes many times (a lot of their business depends on non-required spending (i.e. vacations)) yet they’ve roared back, partly because of how good they are at coming up with new ways to maximize their profits before their planes take off.
The airlines were the first to offer last minute discounts in email blasts (anyone remember Smarter Living?).
They were the first to offer “premium seats” (first class, premium economy, etc.).
They were the first to offer variable pricing, with prices flexing depending on time of year (have you booked your Christmas travel yet?).
They were the first (and this is my favorite) to offer scarcity with their tickets (“Only 4 tickets left at this price”).
And so on.
And there’s something in their process that could end the secondary market on Broadway . . . and in sports, concerts, or any form of live entertainment.
Not that I think we should end the secondary market, mind you. I actually believe having a secondary market is a healthy thing for most industries, including ours (they can buy a lot of tickets to shows early on). So I shine a spotlight on this one “thing” today not to say that we should do it, but to say that it could happen (whether we like it or not) and both us, and the secondary sellers, should be ready to adapt if it does.
See, there is no secondary market with the airlines, now is there? At Christmas time, if you don’t have a ticket to Hamilton and all the shows are sold out (which they are), but you really, really want one, you can buy one off someone who has one. But, if you don’t have a ticket home to Albuquerque, and all the flights are sold out, you can’t buy one from someone else.
Simple. You need a photo ID to check in.
With that very simple safeguard (for security reasons of course), no one can sell what they bought to someone else, for more money or for less.
Hotels are the same way. They weren’t always. 20 years ago, as long as you had a credit card, they were happy to hand over the keys to the room. Now? “Photo ID, please,” is what I hear every time I check in. And if you don’t have one, consider yourself on the street.
Imagine if Broadway shows required a photo ID?
Bam. The Secondary Market goes poof. Only people that buy the tickets could use the tickets.
Now, there are a billion downsides to this . . . you couldn’t buy tickets as a gift (although gift cards are the work around there), what about groups (although groups have to fly too and they figure it out), there’d be longer lines to get into the theater (we don’t want to require people to show up 1.5 hours before curtain), and again, secondary market sellers are big time buyers. I think we should work together rather than drive each other apart.
So I don’t think we’ll see this happen any time soon. That is, unless the next Hamilton (which looks to be Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) takes an aggressive stance on secondary sellers. Or unless, and I hate to even say this, but unless “something” happens (and I think you know what I mean) that requires much tighter security in Times Square and at the theaters. Then, whether we like it or not, we’ll be checking a lot more than bags when people enter our theaters.
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