StubHub Wants Out Of All-In Model

StubHub has begun to quietly walk back its all-in pricing strategy just 18 months after launching the ambitious plan.

The company’s new CEO, Scott Cutler, made the announcement earlier this month at the annual National Association of Ticket Brokers meeting in Las Vegas.

The move comes as part of a larger revamp that includes a new logo design – all tied to the company’s strategy of transitioning from a secondary marketplace to an all-encompassing event destination site.

Cutler didn’t share many details on how his company planned to move away from all-in pricing, but a StubHub rep did confirm that changes were under way. “We will likely test some options in the coming months to improve consumers’ ability to comparison shop and improve our seller experience,” spokesman Glenn Lehrman told The Real.

All-in pricing was supposed to usher in a new era of transparency by showing consumers the full ticket price, with fees, early on in the buying process.

StubHub had years of research and focus groups that showed consumers’ biggest annoyance when purchasing tickets was being slapped with last minute fees at the end of the checkout process. While the move did win StubHub points with consumer groups, the uptick in sales never materialized. Within a few months, brokers complained to the Wall Street Journal that sales on the site had slipped by 15 percent to 50 percent, and many were starting to call all-in pricing a failure.

“StubHub was first to market with this idea and they knew there would be a learning curve with consumers,” said broker and NATB board member Harris Rosner of VIP Tickets. “Transparency is a good thing for any marketplace, but when only one player is engaging in transparency, it creates conditions that allow others to increase their market share.”

Since rolling out all-in pricing last year, the company has faced increased competition from Ticketmaster to keep tickets off StubHub through paperless ticketing. StubHub lost millions during the Super Bowl when thousands of high priced ticket orders went unfulfilled.

StubHub’s biggest fight is taking place it own back yard as it sues Ticketmaster and the Golden State Warriors over retaliatory ticketing practices that discourage season ticket holders from listing on sites not controlled by Ticketmaster.

How StubHub will fix the all-in pricing remains unknown and spokesman Lehrman said his company is just starting to tackle the problem – “even testing is theoretical at this point.”