As the live industry roars back to life, Viagogo stands ready to take the mantle of “World’s Largest Secondary Platform.” After being bogged down by regulatory hurdles, the company is finally ready to move forward with its acquisition of StubHub and provide a marketplace for tickets in at least 68 countries.
Pollstar: You’ve said one thing you are really focused on is flexibility. What are some of the initiatives Viagogo is working on to provide more flexibility?
Cris Miller: We have taken a number of specific steps to provide more flexibility and protections to customers. Customers using our platform were given the option of a cash refund or 125% voucher for canceled events, and we’ve set up a dedicated COVID-19 team to ensure safety protocols are articulated to buyers and sellers using our site.
Can you provide any numbers about the devastation COVID-19 wrought on your business?
What is Viagogo’s perspective on the recovery, operating in so many markets at different stages of recovering from COVID-19?
As a global business operating in many different markets and with varying levels of restrictions, it has been immensely challenging. For instance, maintaining accurate information with all of the event cancellations versus postponements across the globe was the most difficult [challenge] administratively, and I give our team a lot of credit for stepping up to that task.
Where restrictions have eased we have seen a significant increase in traffic and demand. Now more than ever I think customers realize the importance of a regulated and secure ticket resale platform like Viagogo versus classified or social media sites that don’t provide the same piece of mind.
As I understand it, the StubHub deal is finally being allowed to go forward, as long as Viagogo divests of all StubHub business outside of North America. Is this the case? How does the company feel about this situation?
What is something you wish more people understood about your company’s experience during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Many voices are calling for restrictions on ticket resale, through legislation or just private technology. What is Viagogo’s position on this matter?
It is our goal to always work closely with the regulators in the markets where we operate and beginning in 2019, we have made a vast number of changes to our platform in response to that engagement.
Many of the calls for increased legislation come from a misunderstanding of resale and a desire by some to control the wider events industry.
The reality is, there will always be people wanting to resell their tickets and there will always be fans willing to pay a price they deem fair. This demand existed before we came along. That can be done through a safe, regulated platform such as Viagogo, or through unregulated classified sites and marketplaces or on the streets outside venues.
For the industry to function at its strongest, improving collaboration between the primary and resale markets is needed now more than ever. Better collaboration would help reduce fraud, maximize revenue for artists and venues and create an overall improved fan experience.
Once the StubHub acquisition goes through, Viagogo will be the undisputed largest secondary ticketing platform in the world. What are the company’s goals, once it’s operating from that position?
Our mission is to give fans access to the world’s biggest events and that has not changed.
Uniting the two companies will mean buyers have a wider choice of tickets, and sellers will have a wider network of buyers. It creates a win-win for fans – more choice and better pricing.
I am excited for the pandemic recovery, and I am excited to see where the coming years will take the events industry and Viagogo.