LuvSeats, the Las Vegas based entrant into the ticketing world launches next month. Founded by father and son team Les and Darcy Silver, LuvSeats set out to build the tertiary ticketing marketplace, where instant upgrades can be sold to fans already in seats at an event. As the Silvers built up their marketing strategy during the Covid pandemic, it became apparent to them there was also room for a new player in the ticket resale marketplace.
I’m not quite sure how to describe a company which is simultaneously building a third market for tickets while attempting to disrupt the existing secondary market. Fractions were never my best subject. Nevertheless, I understand their central thesis. The existing secondary markets have been very expensive for consumers and some have behaved badly during the pandemic. This combination of high fees and slow to no refunds has harmed the reputation of certain secondary markets, most significantly StubHub which still appears burning through current ticket sales revenues in a race to avoid insolvency. StubHub likely has a bill coming due which exceeds $ 2 billion once it must make good on the vouchers it has issued consumers whose shows cancelled in the past year, while at the same time it has to pay the brokers whose tickets sold on their platform while payment for those tickets was deferred until after the events take place.
LuvSeats has no legacy debt. The Silvers previously built an automotive business which they sold for a significant amount. That gives them table stakes to enter the ticketing world. Les and Darcy Silver leveraged their reputation by bringing on a board of advisors which is 20 strong and a team of 40, with participants whose experience crosses many relevant elements of the entertainment world. In addition, they’ve hired a good team of programmers and some of their executives have experience in the ticketing secondary markets.
Les Silver (left) and Darcy Silver (right)LuvSeats
LuvSeats has two basic strategies as they concurrently seek to enter the secondary and tertiary ticketing markets. In secondary tickets they are attacking the current fee structure where markets charge a fee of up to 35% beyond the cost of the tickets which can add up when tickets for major events can be hundreds or thousands of dollars each. LuvSeats charges a service fee of $9.95 per ticket, plus credit card markup and any state imposed sales taxes, all of which which can result in significant savings for any ticket which costs more than $50 and stupendous savings for those which cost more than $100.
In the tertiary, or upgrade market, LuvSeats has limited competition, most notably FlipTix. This is a newly developing space in which a fan leaving an event can essentially resell through LuvSeats the ability to use the newly vacated seat for a price which is calculated by an algorithm which considers the value of the seat and the time remaining at the event. LuvSeats calls this process the In-game Seat Exchange.
There has been interest from teams across various leagues in partnering with LuvSeats in the upgrade space. LuvSeats entered the HYPE Sports Innovation competition in which four teams selected LuvSeats to trial partner using their technology.
Those teams are: Vegas Golden Knights (NHL), Milwaukee Bucks (NBA), Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Philadelphia Phillies (MLB). LuvSeats will be working with the Las Vegas Aviators minor league baseball team beginning with their season opener on May 6th, 2021. This will be the launch for the LuvSeats In-Game Seat Exchange.
I spoke at length with Les and Darcy Silver. You can play that conversation in video or audio format below:
Ticketing is ready to be disrupted. There are many companies talking about how to enter the space. LuvSeats didn’t waste a lot of time talking. In true entrepreneurial fashion the team simply reached into their pockets, paid the money, and did the work. As a result, when the world resumes, LuvSeats will be in place and on site at their beta test locations for the In-game seat exchange and online with a full suite of resale ticket options.
Some people believe ticketing is a game to be played only by giants. I’m not so sure. There’s this story which keeps rattling my brain about a giant and a guy named David. Giants are only powerful until they fall. If there is any lesson at all to be learned in business from the past year, it may be that there are not many degrees of separation between entrenched and entombed.