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From Shawn: Today’s post comes from PDX Deals Guy who previously wrote about using the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program in Las Vegas. Today he is going to talk about ticket reselling for both a profit and as a method to manufacture spend. You can follow him on Twitter and look for the latest deals on his website. Enjoy!

This is part 1 of 2. You can find the second part here.

Ticket Reselling for Profit and/or Manufactured Spend

Article by PDX Deals Guy
Cover photo by Amy Meredith.

Let me be right up front.  Ticket reselling is not for everyone.  There is a risk of losing money and the potential for wasted time and frustration.  Also, you will find that some people (maybe even you!) simply view ticket reselling as some sort of horrible or inexcusable activity (“how dare you sell a ticket for more than face value you scalper!?!”).

But especially if you live in a decent-sized city, whether big or medium, there’s a good chance you have the opportunity to occasionally make some “easy money.”  Your motivation might be the “profit” and/or it could be to “manufacture spend” (such as meeting the minimum spend requirement on a new credit card).

The focus of this article is to point out some of the lowest-risk opportunities, along with some important things to do and others to avoid.  What I can’t give you is an exact formula or can’t-miss list of tickets to resell.  Like most things in this hobby, you will learn by trial and error.

What to Resell?

ticket reselling manufactured spending
Photo by terren in Virginia.

The goal of reselling any product is maximizing profit.  Thus, you want to buy the product as inexpensively as possible, and be as certain as you can that a market exists for that product at a reasonable profit margin. The nice thing about sports (and some theater) tickets is that season ticket holders usually get a nice discount off of face value.  The amount of the discount can vary significantly, so this requires some research. More importantly, in today’s world of secondary ticket markets, you should be far more concerned with the discount (if any) you are able to buy the season tickets at relative to prices found on StubHub.com, Craigslist, and elsewhere.

Besides season tickets, the other common reselling opportunity is for big events, most notably music concerts, comedians, and shows.  These are obviously less consistent in nature than season tickets, but are also potentially more lucrative, given that many events are for one night only and sometimes in very high demand.  Selling tickets for individual shows is also obviously less of a time and financial commitment.

Where to Resell?

StubHub

ticket reselling manufactured spending

The simplest way to sell tickets is also not surprisingly the most expensive.  You are probably familiar with StubHub.com. Much like its parent company, eBay, it has become the de facto market leader in its space. This is both good and bad. The good news is that buyers know to look there and are generally confident to buy there, given its “Fan Protect” guarantee. Unfortunately, as a seller, you pay a steep ~25% to sell there.

StubHub tries to say that it is a 15% seller fee and 10% buyer fee, but since all buyers see the final price, the reality is that the full burden effectively falls on the seller.  But selling via StubHub is very easy, safe, and efficient.  So if you have enough profit potential in your tickets, you can still do well selling at StubHub despite the fees.

StubHub Quick Tip: To see what a ticket has sold for recently on StubHub, start to create a listing and click “Help me price”. You will then be able to see both sold and unsold listings for that ticket.

Craigslist

ticket reselling manufactured spending

The other primary option for selling tickets is Craigslist. It is an amazing place for buyers and sellers to meet, but also a world fraught with potential scams and frustrations.  I can’t possibly get into all of the details of buying and selling on Craigslist here, but I’ll pass along a few key details.  Of course, the biggest benefit of selling via Craigslist is that there are no fees.  The downside is that you must interact with people.  And those people are always looking for a deal and usually horrible at communicating.

I never give out my phone number in a Craigslist ad for selling tickets and always try to strike up a conversation via email with a potential buyer.  Usually pretty quickly you can determine if the person communicates clearly and feels like the type of person you want to “do business” with.  If they aren’t, just move on (unless you’re desperate to sell at the last minute – which happens sometimes!).

When you finally make a deal with someone to sell them tickets, I prefer to make the transaction electronically if possible (they pay via PayPal, you send the tickets via email).  But, if you must “meet up,” be sure to do it in a public place for your safety and theirs.  If they can come to your place of business, that will often give them comfort, and make it even easier for you.

Other Sites

ticket reselling manufactured spending

While there are many other third-party ticket resale websites, the other most common place you can sometimes sell is via the place where you bought the tickets.  The best example is Ticketmaster, which allows for reselling tickets to some but not all events for which it is the primary ticket seller.  Many season ticket holders have the ability to sell their tickets through the sports team’s website, which is sometimes run by Ticketmaster (or sometimes StubHub for resale purposes, as is the case with Major League Baseball).

While this is not a widespread issue (yet), you should be aware of some issues between Ticketmaster and StubHub, as noted in this recent article.

Tips, Tricks and Suggestions

Focus Local

In my experience, the easiest tickets to buy and resell are in your local market.  You probably have some local knowledge of what is in demand in your city.  In fact, the VERY best tickets to resell are for shows you plan to attend yourself (buy 4 tickets and sell 2 – and you will often times pay for your own 2 tickets that you use!).  It is also easiest to sell via Craigslist if you are selling in your local market.  Some sports teams frown upon people buying simply (or primarily) for the purpose of reselling, but if you live locally it’s tough for them to identify you as a “broker.”  And, if the tickets you have are local, the worst case scenario is that you can use them yourself or find a friend to go to the game or show.

Quick Tip: Always make sure you are aware of any local laws regarding ticket reselling to ensure you comply with the law.

ticket reselling manufactured spending
Photo by Mr. TinDC

Get on Email Lists and have the Right Credit Cards

Nobody likes junk mail, but getting on email lists for your local teams and venues (or in other markets with which you have good familiarity) is the best way to find out about hot new concert presale events and discounts.  Another benefit of being in the points/miles hobby is that often times Citi and American Express cardholders get special presale access (and sometimes discounted prices) to events.

In Part 2 of his guide being published on Saturday, PDX Deals Guy breaks down one of his recent ticket sales and provides more tips for being successful including: how to choose the right events, learning from mistakes and how best to stay organized!


This post may contain referral, affiliate or sponsor links that provide Miles to Memories compensation. Thank you for your support.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I sell tickets for a living. This is such a bad idea. People who have no idea on the risk factor here should not MS this way. Choose the wrong event and lose 50% instantly. This is not the way to MS.

    • Sounds funny how it is your vocation yet you say it’s a bad idea for people to do the same thing you do. I’m sure we’re all adults here and any intelligent person will know there are risks and research further. You’re never going to stop the idiots from making a mess of their life even with good advice. I do agree though, that there are more safe ways to MS. I think the blogger isn’t promoting this as the only or best way.

      • Thanks, Kent. I’m not surprised that this topic is a bit controversial. But I find it interesting that the biggest objections have come from other ticket resellers. 🙂

    • Hey John,
      Just starting to sell tickets with a friend and would love it if you could share some of your tips, bad/good experiences, etc. if you could swing me a message there it would great
      Thanks, Josh

  2. I’m not sure why it’s a good idea for some, but not others. Certainly there are risks, as I start off the entire discussion by pointing out. But if people do some research, start small, and follow some of my other tips (from today’s post and part 2), then it can be profitable (it’s a career for some!) or at least a low-margin (overall*) MS opportunity. I say overall, because anyone who does this WILL have occasional losses. If someone tries it and finds that the losses outweigh the gains, then they obviously either need to quit or figure out what they’re doing wrong. Again, it is clearly not for everyone, but there are LOTS of people doing it (as anyone who does it knows) and can be a good venture and/or tool.

  3. I also sell tickets and this accounts for a portion of my self-employment income – I sold over $100,000 in tickets in 2014 and I’m way way small time. John is correct in assessing that this blog post is a terrible idea. The reason is because you’ll lose money on many, many, many events. Just saying “hey, this is a popular concert/show/sporting event” isn’t enough knowledge to know if you can turn a profit. There are a lot of other factors. For example, you may buy tickets to a concert at face value only to learn that people from a pre-sale or VIP program bought them for X% less. Good luck selling those on stubhub at a profit once they take their cut. Sporting events are seriously cutthroat, and it’s hard to make money unless you’re a season ticket holder. I paid $13,000 for my St. Louis Cardinals Season tickets. I might break even or take a small loss. I buy them to be able to give out some games as a promotion through my business and to have access to postseason tickets. You make all your money on the postseason, at least with the Cardinals. Even if you could turn a small profit from buying these season tickets regularly, you pay for them months before the season starts and you don’t get paid until you deliver the tickets for each game. Your money is tied up for months and months. You could use that money for other ‘angles’ and make more money overall due to faster turnover. I sell tickets because I enjoy it. And I’m being sincere and genuine when I say that if you’re just trying to earn points/miles, please stay far, far away unless you truly understand the real downside risk. I lose money on over 50% of the tickets I sell – that’s a true story. If you’re just dabbling, you’re hoping you’re going to pick the golden event and avoid the rest? That sounds like a terrible investment strategy to me.

    • Thanks for your reply, Mike. You make some very fair points. To be fair to me, I think I at least alluded to a number of them. And this is not intended to be a deep dive on ticket reselling (although recall that there is a Part 2 coming Saturday). I can’t imagine anyone would stick with any reselling activity (tickets or otherwise) if it had a less than 50/50 profit/loss rate. Of course, overall profit margin is the more important factor. When I first got started doing this, it was tough to get over the losses (and they will happen – as I highlight more in Part 2).

      Not all season tickets are great. In fact, if the team doesn’t play in front of regular strong attendance, then you better be getting a very big discount or stay away. As I mention in the post, it doesn’t matter what kind of discount you get to the box office price, it’s all about your price versus the secondary market price. I have found that there are usually “sweet spots” (often very small sweet spots!) in season tickets. More expensive tickets are almost never the sweet spot, especially from a risk and percentage margin perspective.

      Whether sports or events, a key factor is buying tickets that stand out or are different in some way. You’re right on about being as careful and aware as possible about supply factors, such as promoters discounting tickets or announcing additional showings/concerts. You also make a very good and fair point about having capital tied up in inventory.

      I agree that ticket reselling is probably not the most efficient form of MS. But it can be a profitable reselling endeavor, not unlike other reselling approaches. As with any business venture or MS strategy, clearly one needs to become educated and decide what works best for them. And as Shawn always advocates on this blog, start small. If it works for you, do more. If it doesn’t, stop.

  4. I’ve used this method to fulfill minimum spend the past few years but I don’t make any profits from it since I myself am not a fan of ticket scalping. However, I’ve noticed that if you do resell them at a place at stubhub for no profit (selling them for face value + stubhub fee) and you did your research, you’ll sell them 99.99% of the time. For me, I’ve always used stubhub & Ticketmaster ticketexchange and never craigslist (too much hassle, in my opinion.)
    However, if you dabble in actually making this a career and jack up the prices and be a scalper, I agree with the others that there will be times when you’ll lose out; yet there will also be times you’ll make easy money. I agree with your tip to start local and start small since that’s how I started as well.
    PDXdealsguy, which DOs or FTUs do you go to? I actually wish this topic would be spoken more at those events so I can exchange strategies with folks but overall this is a good primer for beginners.
    Thx to this method, I’ve never had to go to Walmart for MS. 😉

    • Thanks, Joey, for sharing your perspective and experience. As I state in my very first paragraph of this blog, I know that some people are simply philosophically opposed to the entire concept of ticket reselling (I think I also mention the risk there too!!). I’m not saying it makes it right (or wrong), but the reality is that lots of people are reselling tickets and the genie is out of the bottle on the free market setting ticket prices.

      I find it interesting that you sell somewhat intentionally to break-even. I don’t think I could do that, because I know that there will be losses that need to be offset with gains (and they better be offset enough to make it worth my time and effort!). But if it works for you, I think that’s great. If you are VERY careful about only buying tickets that you have reason to believe are very safe (for and extreme example – front row seats to a clearly under-priced event, with no threat of a second show being added!), then your approach could work for meeting minimum spends. My experience (like some of the others) says that it’s tough to pull off. But the faster and bigger you go, the more likely you are to make mistakes. Again, I really appreciate your comment.

      I’m kind of a relative newbie to the points/miles hobby (just ask Shawn). My sorry little blog is truly an endeavor targeted at friends and family who would (sorry Shawn) never come to MtM (or even the pure “deals” websites). I haven’t done a conference of any sort, but I would love to go to Trevor’s ResellingDO. (Just too far away! come out West, Trevor!) Maybe someday I will expand on this brief introduction (and sure there’s many other folks far more experience than I am!), whether on this blog or at a conference. I’m glad you found it an interesting topic.

      • I’m an oddity in the miles/points game. I’ve been in it a few years now and I still don’t have a business card! I don’t mind flying any alliance though at the moment I am an elite for a skyteam airline… and I don’t have any hotel loyalty. Anyways, the only time I resell on stubhub is whenever I have to fulfill a minimum spend for the bonus points (most of the time it ranges $1500-$3000 for a period of 3 months) but I really utilized my reselling skills a year ago when I had to meet $10k minimum spends for the the citi AAexec cards!
        You make a good point about putting a bit of profit there to offset losses. I’ll think of that next time. My friend who introduced me to this method managed to get tix to the maywether/paqiao fight a few weeks ago and easily made a profit from reselling those tickets.

  5. […] Over time I have tried to cover just about every type of manufactured spending on this blog. I don’t advocate all methods for all people, however I do think it is good to diversify your knowledge so you can jump on the best deals. For that reason I have covered gift card reselling, traditional MS and PDX Deals Guy even wrote about ticket reselling. […]

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