Tag Archives: Duran Duran tickets

Shouldn’t VIP seats be great?

Happy New Year!

It is my first blog of 2017 and I am hoping this post finds everyone happy and healthy.  Many of you are making your way home from the  New Year shows in Washington DC – safe travels! I have to say, sitting these shows out and staying at home wasn’t nearly as depressing as I thought. Not that I didn’t miss being there to see the band, but seeing the posts and updates from Amanda gave me a totally different perspective than I would have had if I were there too. It was interesting, not that I’d seriously try to recommend staying home to anyone!  I just didn’t have a choice, and I needed to make the best of it. I am going to have to get used to that, until I win the lottery.

Since I’ve been at home, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot about the venue. From a dress code that didn’t seem to be enforced to a countdown to New Years during the show that did not include the band dragged down spirits a bit. On the upside: DURAN DURAN. I mean, what could be better than that?  I have a hard time thinking of anything else that could be better than spending New Year’s weekend seeing Duran Duran.

Take it from someone who wasn’t there: I WISH.  I saw plenty of tweets, posts and comments that began with the words, “Once in a lifetime”.  I get it, and I have to concur. Those of us who weren’t there missed out (although I speak solely for myself when I say that I’ve gotten to do a lot of other “once in a lifetime” things as a result of this band – so missing one weekend won’t kill me).

On the other hand, had I spent the nearly $400 a show to see the band, I would have been very disappointed to get to the venue and see this view:

photo taken on an iPhone with no zoom, courtesy of Jennifer Burroughs

That’s a view from a VIP seat. In order to see any portion of the stage, the person in the seat had to angle way to the side. If they looked straight ahead, this may have been their view:

This is a photo Amanda took the first night.

Sure, the seats were close, and there’s no argument about that. Close seats, however, are not always “great seats”, and they definitely aren’t the “great seats” that paying nearly $400 for a VIP tickets should get you. These seats are partially obstructed, and should not be marketed as anything else. Shame on the venue for that. Sure, you might be in the first six rows, but if those rows face a brick wall and you never see the band – are they really VIP? That’s my question to all of you.

In an online discussion about this very issue, I mentioned that Amanda and I really try to do our homework before pre-sales. We search online for images of the venue. We even look to see photos from people in the audience, just to try to get a handle on the length of the stage as opposed to seating. Then we print out a copy of the seating chart, and we try to make sure that we know how the seats are numbered within each section. Buyer beware: even the seating charts that ticket agencies use sometimes aren’t always the best or most accurate. That’s why we take a good look at any photos  we can find online. Those are things we do ahead of time, so that way when row 2, seats 45 and 46 show up in our basket at the pre-sale, we can decide for ourselves whether or not we want them. And believe it or not, we’ve thrown second row seats back before because they were so far to the side that it didn’t matter. We’ve agreed that we’d rather be back a bit farther but in the middle than be way off to one side.  But that’s a choice that YOU must make as a buyer. We all want different things. So let’s look at the seating chart used for this pre-sale:

seating chart for MGM

It feels very counterintuitive, or even greedy, to throw back first or second row VIP seats because they’re not more to the middle. No doubt about it. I’m certainly not telling anybody what to do here because I don’t know what I would have done, had I participated in the pre-sale. Which brings me to another point.

Shouldn’t VIP seats be, well….great?

In the past on DDM (and by past I mean PAST)…we’d participate in pre-sales and not be guaranteed to have the best seats. It was explained that the DDM allocation for pre-sales were 10% of the best and worst seats in the venue, and it was a crap-shoot as to what you might get. DDM customers knew that risk going in, and I don’t know many of us who weren’t burned at least once. Those pre-sales, however, were not VIP. They were simply fan pre-sales. Over time, DDM began promoting their own VIP packages in various forms, whether they included cocktail parties, meet and greets, tiers, merchandise, or just the “great seat”.  Keeping in mind that during a pre-sale, you could go for just a regular seat OR pay the extra to do VIP.  Call me crazy, but if you’re paying the surcharge for VIP, you’re probably expecting a really good seat – one that doesn’t have you staring directly at a wall.

Granted, I’m not entirely sure that DDM has much control over what the venue touts as a “great seat”.  It isn’t as though DDM actually sorts through the tickets themselves and allocates them to fans (although at one time, they did). I just know that as a fan, if I bought a VIP ticket and ended up with that kind of view—I’d think twice before buying another. It doesn’t beg for repeat business.

I saw quite a few comments to DDM from “owners” of these types of side-seat tickets. Many asked if this is really how the band should treat their VIP customers. I can understand the question and the sentiment. I also have a fair idea of just how much attention DDHQ pays to such complaints. Unfortunately, it’s widely regarded that the only comments online are the negative ones, which is incredibly untrue (those are just the ones easily seen, which says more about the viewer than it does the countless GOOD things I see every day about the band).

Here’s the problem: we are customers. We also happen to be fans. Those are two different things. Sometimes, I feel that DDM and subsequently DDHQ forget that point. Fans can be fans without being customers; and many customers really aren’t fans. But, once they are truly customers – when they buy something directly from DDM—they should be treated as such.  The complaints have little do with crazy fans, it’s about wanting good service. It is wanting the goods and services one paid for. The relationship is transactional, not emotional.

I’m somewhat dismayed by just how many times I see the comment, “You saw a great show for the ticket price” or “The band puts on a fantastic show.”  without any validation given to the concerns of the customer. Particularly so when the complaints aren’t about the band doing their job, but about the folks behind the scenes doing theirs.

-R

Capital FM Arena

The floor in front of the stage is standing-room-only general admission. A limited number of those tickets will be available in the pre-sale with reduced service charges. In addition, excellent seated tickets are offered as part of the Bronze VIP package, which is the ONLY VIP package available for this show in Nottingham, UK. Please see here for more info on VIP packages. Regular pre-sale tickets with reduced service charges (seated and general admission on the floor) are also available at the presale, beginning June 15, 10:00 am venue local time.

The Ticketmaster Debacle

I’ve been trying to sort out yesterday in my head.  Let me just put it out there: I’m still trying to figure out what shows we bought tickets for and where we’re sitting.  This isn’t because we’re doing that many shows, it’s because in hindsight – it all feels like a blur. Or maybe it’s more like it feels as though I was hit by a semi-truck (think “lorry” if you’re in the UK) and I’m laying on the highway in a heap as the traffic continues to buzz by, not even noticing that I’m there.

Yeah, that’s about the size of it.

I want to acknowledge a few things:

  1. There were people who had fantastic buying experiences. These people, by and large, were also folks who bought either “Ultimate” or “Gold” level VIP packages. I didn’t see any complaints from anyone who received a front row seat off the bat, and I didn’t really see many complaints from people who wanted gold unless there just weren’t those tickets left.
  2. Ticket buying has very little to do with the band.  The band plays the shows. They deliver on their end.  There is a business side to all of this though, and we must accept and acknowledge that the band has the right (and responsibility) to be in business and make money.
  3. DDHQ, on the other hand, is in fact that business side. Badmouthing DDHQ does very little to solve problems or to draw attention to issues fans had with pre-sales, so we’re just not. I respect that I cannot do their job(s), and I have no idea what it is like to manage a band. Period.
  4. Ticketmaster, however, IS the problem.

For quite a while yesterday morning, I really considered my issues with the pre-sales to be user-error. Maybe I didn’t click fast enough? Maybe I paused a bit too long before deciding to hit “bronze”? Perhaps I was just ticked-off about the price of tickets being so much more expensive than the last tour? Maybe all of the above?? I was, and am, willing to accept that at least part of it was me. I’ve had good luck with tours recently. I have had great seats. That luck can’t last forever. But then I started reading about the experiences of others and realized that some of the same crazy things that happened to me happened to other people. That’s just weird.

What were some of these crazy things? (and I am only listing things that I’ve seen mentioned in multiple places by multiple people)

  • “CAPTCHA” codes not working:  entering the code only to be told it’s not valid and having to do it again and again, or needing to close the window and start all over again, resulting in losing time.
  • No need to first go into DDM using your own user name and password before getting to the tour page, clicking on the gig of your choice and then being transferred over to Ticketmaster: Ultimately what I’m saying is that there was no firewall, so basically as long as one had the password that was sent in the email to fans announcing the pre-sale, you were able to participate in the pre-sale. Part of the reason (most of the reason?) we all join DDM to begin with is so that we have first access to those pre-sale tickets. I cannot tell you how many people have sent messages and told me on Facebook and Twitter that they won’t rejoin DDM next year because it doesn’t seem to help them.
  • Tickets in the process of being paid for disappearing out of carts: error messages pop-up on the screen saying something like “oops, your tickets are no longer available”.  When this happened to me, I thought it was because I had inadvertently taken too long, but then I glanced at the timer – and I had 7 minutes left to complete the transaction I was making for 2 Gold level VIP tickets. Naturally when I went back to get another pair – there were none available. Can’t cry over spilt milk, unless of course there are 50 other cases of this happening to other people – which there were. That’s just wrong.
  • Having to enter the DDM pre-sale password over and over and over again.  Isn’t once really enough??
  • For more than one venue, gold-level tickets were coming up in odd places, like several rows in back of that 6th row where Gold should end. I have been told that in one of the venues – Mandalay Bay in Vegas – where this happened, it’s because the venue’s row numbering “system” skips rows. In other places though, because it happened to other people in other places as well, as I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Lastly, and perhaps the most importantly: when (if) the MAP system comes up (where you can see for yourself what seats are available and choose them yourself), seats are coming up as “available” that have already been purchased. Unfortunately, when this issue was presented to Ticketmaster – they simply said it was “impossible”.  Except that it’s not because multiple people had it happen this morning before the option to use the map system stopped coming up and all you could do was click on “find my seats.” I guess we’ll all see for certain when we get to the shows and someone else has the same (valid) ticket to sit in the same seat as a Duranie, won’t we?

Those are just a few of the issues I saw repeatedly from fans…and comments continue to be posted to our Facebook page even today.  As I’ve said before, I recognize and respect the right of the band to make business decisions that fans don’t necessarily enjoy or understand. It happens and it continues to be a balancing act. We as consumers also “enjoy” the right to choose how and when to participate in the transactional relationship, which is it’s own balancing act.  While it may not be our choice (as fans) for Ticketmaster to be the ticketing service for pre-sales and fan ticket sales – it IS our choice whether or not we choose to participate. That balance is of course knowing that if we choose not to participate, we likely will not see the band on tour. I don’t know very many people willing to miss out on Duran Duran purely to take a stand, and DDHQ is going to do whatever they need to ensure the best profit for the band. That’s business, like it or not.

As a fan, it IS disheartening when things happen that make fandom feel more like work than fun. Days like yesterday tend to make me forget how I feel when I’m standing up and screaming in front of the band. In my craziest moments I may have even wondered if I should just stay home and not bother. I’ll just say this and leave it for the rest of you to ponder: when the time comes for these gigs to happen and you walk into the venue, handing your ticket to the agent to scan and then excitedly walking with purpose to your seat, sitting down and staring at the darkened stage with growing anticipation as you see that the clock ticks ever closer to the moment Simon walks out and begins singing “Paper Gods”, are you really going to even think twice about the ticket buying process to get there? Are you going to be thinking about how Ticketmaster asked you to re-enter the CAPTCHA code four times before it worked? When the band starts playing Planet Earth, Rio or Pressure Off, are you going to let any of that enter your mind?

That, my friends, is why Ticketmaster stays in business.

-R