Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby dr.placebo » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:05 am

I have to side with those who say that there is not enough public data to prove a lot of scalping at this time. We also have little data about scammers (the current listings may be entirely scammers, for all we know).

Last year when the event sold out there was a spike in the listed price or tickets, which declined to more or less reasonable levels before the event. But the event did not sell out until everyone who was prepared had more than enough time to get a ticket in the standard way. This year appears to be quite different.

Case 1 - Scalping. Possibly the supply this year was soaked up by scalpers. If the percentage is high, then if we (the lottery losers) hold tight then prices will go to reasonable levels as the scalpers sit on tickets that rapidly approach zero value as the event arrives.

Case 2 - Mobbing. Maybe the scalping percentage is low, but the demand from past burners and new burners simply went ballistic, a side effect of creating an unbearably attractive nuisance. So it is possible (but highly speculative) that there is a demand for 100k-150k tickets. If so, then any tickets that become available will be bought up immediately. This is actually worse than case 1, because the tickets are already in the hands of those who intend to use them, and liquidity will be low and independent of date, so the odds of buying a ticket will be poor.

Case 3 - Panic. Perhaps people did a bunch of panic buying, and so there are tickets out there that will be released into the market (STEP or otherwise). This makes the odds of getting a reasonably priced ticket better than case 2, but one might not have to wait as long as case 1.

Case 4 - Following Friends. Possibly a lot of people got tickets who will be discouraged by the rest of their camps not getting tickets, and will put them back into the pool. In case 4 the tickets were bought with the intent to personally use them, rather than due to hedging. In case 4 it may take some time for the disappointment to become real, so patience will be rewarded for potential buyers.


My guess is that the actual situation is a hybrid of the above 4 cases. Staying ready to go, and being patient, could be rewarded, although it is too early to guess the odds. The downside of such patience is that we could lose an opportunity to do something really interesting. I can handle not going to the playa, but sitting at home while others go to the playa would be really unsatisfying.

Now, despite that fact that I think that the implementation of the lottery sucks, we got into the realm of scarcity last year, and are almost certainly deep into it this year. A lottery gives the not so wealthy more of a chance to get into the event, so it has its charms. But whether we use a lottery or the blind syphilitic hand of the market, there will be people who can't go, and there will be established camps that will be broken up.

At my work we used to call this a Class A success disaster, which means that we succeeded beyond our ability to handle the success. Our reaction to it has been shaped by some clumsiness around the lottery system, but it was going to happen sooner or later even with a zero scalping system.

Until the demand collapses, this is going to be the way it is for a while.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Igneouss » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:48 am

Gotta love economics!

The problem here is all about scarcity. BUT more specifically it's about the perception of scarcity.
Burners are a noisy lot. Last year a small percentage of people got skunked. But they were a very noisy small percentage. This resulted in the PERCEPTION of scarcity at a much larger level than reality. It also carries over to this year.

So now the noise gets louder. The PECEPTION of scarcity increases rapidly.

However, reality is that there are more tickets than last year. Probably an increase in excess of 10%. This is enough to cover the few skunks from last year plus a significant increase in attendance this year. Take a look at the wikipedia page for attendance numbers. There is absolutely no credence to the idea that 10s of thousands more people want to attend this year over last.

The only thing driving the current frenzy is fear of scarcity. Fear is a strong thing. Fear is more than enough to cause people to register for more tickets than needed. Particularly when they have been told that the BMOrg will provided a robust resale engine. Over subscription reduces fear with no down side risk (easy resale if you win too many).

This will not end well. Mostly because perception and reality have been decoupled. The perception is now that there will never be enough tickets to go around. The same skunk percentage from last year will cause double the noise. People are already acting like they will not get a ticket. Media will pick up on it. Etc. The BMOrg is already in a rear guard action and will not get out in front of this. One big reason is that they will never release any actual numbers due to their long standing policy of hiding all revenue and profit numbers from public scrutiny. They are trapped on this issue and only able to speak in generalities. Unfortunately, generalities tend to have a negative effect on scarcity fears... Just like when you hear 'nothing to see hear, move along'...
Basic b/e analysis:
2005 $243K
06 $855K
07 $1.0M
08 $1.1M
09 $0
10 $1.1M
11 $1.2M
12 $1.2M
That’s $6.8M that thousands of volunteers deserve to know about. Capitalism is alive at BM. Tickets are the commodity. Others have estimated higher profits.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Igneouss » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:48 am

Gotta love economics!

The problem here is all about scarcity. BUT more specifically it's about the perception of scarcity.
Burners are a noisy lot. Last year a small percentage of people got skunked. But they were a very noisy small percentage. This resulted in the PERCEPTION of scarcity at a much larger level than reality. It also carries over to this year.

So now the noise gets louder. The PECEPTION of scarcity increases rapidly.

However, reality is that there are more tickets than last year. Probably an increase in excess of 10%. This is enough to cover the few skunks from last year plus a significant increase in attendance this year. Take a look at the wikipedia page for attendance numbers. There is absolutely no credence to the idea that 10s of thousands more people want to attend this year over last.

The only thing driving the current frenzy is fear of scarcity. Fear is a strong thing. Fear is more than enough to cause people to register for more tickets than needed. Particularly when they have been told that the BMOrg will provided a robust resale engine. Over subscription reduces fear with no down side risk (easy resale if you win too many).

This will not end well. Mostly because perception and reality have been decoupled. The perception is now that there will never be enough tickets to go around. The same skunk percentage from last year will cause double the noise. People are already acting like they will not get a ticket. Media will pick up on it. Etc. The BMOrg is already in a rear guard action and will not get out in front of this. One big reason is that they will never release any actual numbers due to their long standing policy of hiding all revenue and profit numbers from public scrutiny. They are trapped on this issue and only able to speak in generalities. Unfortunately, generalities tend to have a negative effect on scarcity fears... Just like when you hear 'nothing to see hear, move along'...
Basic b/e analysis:
2005 $243K
06 $855K
07 $1.0M
08 $1.1M
09 $0
10 $1.1M
11 $1.2M
12 $1.2M
That’s $6.8M that thousands of volunteers deserve to know about. Capitalism is alive at BM. Tickets are the commodity. Others have estimated higher profits.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby captain mcguiver » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:50 am

You guys are nuts. If your "math" is correct why are there only 37 tickets on Ebay? Thats like .0007% of tickets. Shouldnt there be like 20,000 tickets on ebay? What? Are scalpers "holding on" to tickets for some reason?" Face it guys, you're wrong.

The reason you didnt get tickets is because everyone ordered 4, and half of us got it, and half of us didnt. I love my friends who willingly admit to have purchased 2 other tickets on another credit card for "saftey", and now bitch they didn't get tickets. Who were YOU planning on stealing from? Would it matter if tables were turned?

There are enough tickets available for everyone who really wants to go (at face value.

If you give up now, then you've lost. I guess someone more serious about going will be there instead.


FYI: I ordered 2 lowest tier tickets and got them, so add that to your fuzzy mathbook.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby arthur5005 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:02 am

For the # of tickets requested I do some simple math here:
viewtopic.php?f=290&t=53769
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby lemur » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:47 am

arthur5005 wrote:For the # of tickets requested I do some simple math here:


its only 'simple math' because youre making up the numbers!
Don't link to anything here!
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby KestrelSF » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:04 pm

What frightens me at this point is the fact that in talking with my group, and other group leaders, there aren't any extra tickets amongst our membership. We had a few people that didn't really intend to go this year, but ordered tickets so we'd have extras, and none of them got tickets. I'm hearing the same thing from other camps.

We now have confirmation from the LLC that the 30% success rate is correct. While they won't release figures for how many requests were made, knowing the 30% rate it really is simple math to extrapolate the number. 40,000 / .3 = 133,333.

Now lets take a look at the growth curve for the last few years:

2006 38,989
2007 47,366
2008 49,599
2009 43,435
2010 51,454
2011 53,963

Now even given a good deal of publicity this year, even if we assume that new people wanting to go was at an all time high this year, I don't see how it would be conceivably possible to push the number of actual participants wanting tickets over 66,666 (or half of the 133,333).

The reason we don't see more scalped tickets on various sites? Simple. They don't have the physical tickets so can' sell them yet. Which ironically means that holding the ticket release date till June actually makes things WORSE for everyone. No one will be able to get their hands on the scalped / speculated tickets until then, way too late to put together any sort of meaningful camp / art project / mutant vehicle, etc. But plenty of time to rent yourself a CruiseAmerica RV and stuff it full of beer. Or worse, book yourself on one of those BM packages where they set up everything for you. I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of tickets went to those sorts of operations.

If this is even fixable at this point, it is going to require drastic and immediate action on the part of the LLC. It is clear that we will HAVE to go to non-transferrable ticket system. Sorry if that doesn't "feel" good for folks that feel like tickets should be transferrable, it's just the only thing that would work.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby marcgorcey » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:08 pm

Thanks, Kestrel.

Non transferrable ticket with a real name associated with it seems to be the only way out of this.

I think they could do this retroactively if they wanted to - i.e. demand that every ticket sold provide a real name associated with it (I didn't enter the lottery, my wife put in for us so maybe they already did this I don't know) and if not then you can sell your ticket back to STEP.
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SAVE THE THEME CAMPS AND ART PROJECTS

Postby Kranster » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:29 pm

BMorg, please save the major contributors with an application process from proven teams before the last 10,000 tickets go to 7,000 more scalpers.

The results show old time burners getting about 30% success, and a massive 70% failure to get tickets. This will devastate the "plan ahead crowd" - theme camps, art projects, international burners, and many other groupings. Worse than sad, the "show" will bomb this year. Imagine if 70% of the bands at Coachella did not show up - it would kinda suck. BMorg must realize that the Burning Man event is created by the attendees and owes nearly 100% of its success to the participant/contributors, not spectators. And those group participant/contributors must get their hands on tickets sooner as a group, not later and one at a time, to move forward instead of giving up and canceling.

My hope is that BMorg takes the remaining 10,000 tickets and directs enough of them specifically to allow the major contributors of theme camps and art projects to back-fill their teams. Some application process to sell say 2000 or 5000 or even all 10,000 tickets to proven group producer/contributors who will save the event from bombing for everybody. Non-groups can get tickets over time from STEP/scalpers as the glut of scalping eventually brings the price down.

By resolving up to 10,000 of the most ardent and desperate ticket seekers, BMorg would devestate the market for the vast scalper glut, bringing down prices and maybe making STEP work as planned starting now instead of a June/July Craigslist frenzy.

BMorg, please save the major contributors with an application process from proven teams before the last 10,000 tickets go to 7,000 more scalpers.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Hayseed » Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:51 pm

How many more like me out there? My first post - I'm a returning Burner. I entered in the pre-sale for 2 tickets (wife & I). My wife did the same. Ended up with 4 tickets and need only 2. I offered my extras to two other camp members who entered the main lottery and were unsuccessful. They accepted my offer. They are however still going to 'diligently' enter the open sale and then the priority STEP in an effort to secure extra tickets for other ticketless camp members.

I'm not really smart enough to know what all this means. Possibly things look worse than they are. The number of ticket seekers will be more than actually need tickets as unsuccessful lottery burners provided extra tickets by camp members stay in the system in an effort to get tickets to help out other camp members. Like leaning over to look into 2 face to face mirrors, even though it's just you it looks like way more. Maybe all these "missing" tickets will suddenly find their way into the community around STEP time although not necessarily through STEP.

My head is starting to hurt trying to articulate this. Maybe someone else can take the facts I've stated in paragraph 1 and use them to help figure this mess out. My point is: I (and obviously many others like me) could be the missing tickets. I am not a scalper. I will not sell for more than face value. I will provide my extras to other established burners. No one will know this until after STEP, when two unsuccessful main sale, after sale and STEP applicants suddenly disappear from the statistics as they already have tickets.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Kranster » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:34 pm

I think KestrelSF got the numbers and the problems spot on in his post above:
* Burners got 30% of the tickets they wanted.
* Scalpers and hoarders got 50%
* Newbies account for the rest.

When the glut of tickets from scalpers and hoarders come to market the prices will come down and most people will be able to go - but it will be too late to save the big theme camps, art projects and mutant car projects that need so much forward planning.

Over 50,000 people will attend no matter what. If we want to see the proven creative expression that made past Burning Man events magical, we must actively rescue the "plan ahead contributors". I say it is by creating an application process for BMorg to target-sell the last 10,000 tickets to back-fill those groups. I do not see a way to draw out the 50% hoarded and scalped tickets before June/July. STEP will help a little but I think BMorg has placed way too much hope on it helping soon enough.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Mitch » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:26 pm

I'm not an economist, though I HAVE played one on TV.

I think the sample IS valid because it's not only the people on ePlaya, but their reports of entire camps, encompassing thousands of Burners. Unless you think they're lying -- and Marian has reportedly confirmed the 1/3 guesstimation -- then you have to assume the number is valid.

This tells us a number of things, chief of which is that about 125,000 - 130,000 tickets were bid for in the first two sales. (That 1.7 number is meaningless, btw, could reflect one person in a couple bidding for 2 or 2 people bidding for 4, and doesn't indicate how many people or couples bid).

The other thing it tells us is that veteran burners plus a few newbies (whatever precentage are associated with theme camps) account for 14,333 of the tickets. I'd mentally bump that up a bit on the belief that practically all of the tix in the presale went to veterans and very few went to scalpers. So, let's say 16,000 are veterans, that means 27,000 are newbies or scalpers.

You can play with it from there, but I think demand last year, meaning the number of tickets that were purchased plus the number of tix that would have been purchased had the event not sold out, was no more than 80,000. Remember, the event didn't sell out until the summer. So, 40,000-50,000 bidders represent new demand, either from newbies or scalpers, and there you can take your pick. The OP's 50% IS in the ballpark.

What seems not to have happened is that veteran burners bought more tix than they and their campmates needed -- otherwise the theme camps would have done better.

I don't think the scalpers would list a lot of tickets now, they will want to maintain the perception that there's relative scarcity.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby 5280MeV » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:29 pm

All this math is totally wrong anyway - even if the 30% success rate is correct, it doesn't measure what you really want to measure.

Consider a simplified example. Suppose 120,000 ticket requests are put in. 40,000 are for tickets at any tier, and the other 80,000 are specifically for Tier-1 tickets.In this case, there is an overall success rate of 33%.

However, of the people registering at any tier, around 3300 will have won Tier-1 tickets, and another 30,000 will win higher tier tickets. That is an 83% success rate.

Only about 6700 people out of the 80,000 who registered for only Tier-1 will have received their Tier-1 tickets. That is about an 8% success rate.

Obviously, the actual situation is more complex, with an interplay between three rather than two tiers. I made these calculations to illustrate the point: Overall success rate is not extremely meaningful. It does sound as if a very significant number of people registered for only Tier-1 or Tier-1 and 2 tickets, and these people are much less successful. The difference in success rate can easily be enormous.

Why should one expect a glut of Tier-1 registrations?

- Curious potential virgins who may or may not want to go, but will try their luck at a low cost ticket and see what happens.

- Small time, first time, or amateur scalpers, who although perhaps deterred in general, consider a $240 ticket a no-brainer for higher resale.

- Veterans who do contribute a lot to the event, but have come to expect and depend on a Tier-1 ticket being there if they get there early enough.

- People who will try for just the lower tiers now, and then go to $390 in the secondary sale if needed (I almost did this).

- Bet-hedging or hoarding by having additional people sign up.

Nearly all of these things can of course happen at higher tiers, but they are all very much exacerbated at the lowest tier. The ticket distribution did not happen on the playa, it happened out here in the default world where the laws of economics apply. Since Burning Man is now known to be a sellout event, they were basically handing out 390 dollar bills for just $240 dollars.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby vargaso » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:41 pm

KestrelSF wrote:What frightens me at this point is the fact that in talking with my group, and other group leaders, there aren't any extra tickets amongst our membership. We had a few people that didn't really intend to go this year, but ordered tickets so we'd have extras, and none of them got tickets. I'm hearing the same thing from other camps.

We now have confirmation from the LLC that the 30% success rate is correct. While they won't release figures for how many requests were made, knowing the 30% rate it really is simple math to extrapolate the number. 40,000 / .3 = 133,333.

Now lets take a look at the growth curve for the last few years:

2006 38,989
2007 47,366
2008 49,599
2009 43,435
2010 51,454
2011 53,963

Now even given a good deal of publicity this year, even if we assume that new people wanting to go was at an all time high this year, I don't see how it would be conceivably possible to push the number of actual participants wanting tickets over 66,666 (or half of the 133,333).

The reason we don't see more scalped tickets on various sites? Simple. They don't have the physical tickets so can' sell them yet. Which ironically means that holding the ticket release date till June actually makes things WORSE for everyone. No one will be able to get their hands on the scalped / speculated tickets until then, way too late to put together any sort of meaningful camp / art project / mutant vehicle, etc. But plenty of time to rent yourself a CruiseAmerica RV and stuff it full of beer. Or worse, book yourself on one of those BM packages where they set up everything for you. I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of tickets went to those sorts of operations.

If this is even fixable at this point, it is going to require drastic and immediate action on the part of the LLC. It is clear that we will HAVE to go to non-transferrable ticket system. Sorry if that doesn't "feel" good for folks that feel like tickets should be transferrable, it's just the only thing that would work.


This is the most cogent post out of all the hundreds I've read regarding the ticket situation, both in assessing the current predicament and in providing a way forward. Thanks Kestrel.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Mitch » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:54 pm

Frogbird: I agree that the tiers do complicate matters and that the $240 tickets clearly and the $320 tix with hindsight were riskless and therefore would have drawn a lot of bids.

But I also think the theme camps mostly would have bid at the $390 range. When you're spending several thousand dollars, and extra $150 to ensure your place doesn't seem like much, and it was clear that the 10,000 $240s would sell out.

In fact, if you do assume that bidding at the two lower tiers was high and that the big camps bid $390 for most of their tix, that means that there were even MORE overall bids than 130,000.
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STEP Succeeds or Fails Based on Perceptions

Postby Kranster » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:24 pm

If the market perception is that 133,333 people want to go and only 40,000 got tickets, the scalper market will demand gold, up until the truth comes out and there is a crash (we should know how a speculative bubble works by now.)

If the market perception is that half the tickets got sold to scalpers, those 20,000 or so tickets could head to the STEP system pretty damn quickly.

I wish to heck BMorg understood sales & marketing, and the power of market perceptions - the success of STEP depends on it.

(@Kestrel: Good job and thanks.)
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby usurpedus » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:21 pm

STEP has no chance in there world to be even a band-aid

1) theres already a huge shortage of tickets as it is
2) everyone knows countless people that still need tickets
3) the few that may have an extra ticket quite possibly wont know if their extra ticket is needed until much later than the STEP program

If 40k tickets were sold and half went to scalpers, that means 20k burners have tickets. of those how many do you think have tickets to spare above and beyond what their immediate circle/community needs? 30? 40? the very fabric of the community that binds us together is the same network that people will be trying to connect with to deliver tickets to those who need(not STEP).
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:38 pm

usurpedus wrote:2) everyone knows countless people that still need tickets

no comment
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby CapnJoe » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:46 pm

RESALE TICKETS AVAILABE NOW!!!!
Tickets Now 26
Vivid Seats 41
Stub Hub 39
Ticket Liquidators 35
Preferred Seating 26
Go Tickets 26
TicketsMore 39
First base 39
And on and on!
:evil:
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby lemur » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:00 pm

total amount of above tickets: about 0.5% of the 43,000 tickets already sold.

GOOD JOB TICKET TEAM!!

it appears from one persons casual look on the internet that over 99% of tickets available have not been put up on ticket resale websites!!!
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby vargaso » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:04 pm

That is somewhat hopeful, but my guess is the low numbers are due to not having the physical ticket in hand. Some sites do not allow selling of an item not possessed currently by the seller. The true test of how well the lottery system weeded out scalpers will be in June when the tickets start mailing.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Kranster » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:44 pm

Let's see BM grows less than 10,000 people a year, even shrinking one year, but when a Lottery is announced against a backdrop of last year's network news about $1600 tickets on Craigslist, we suddenly jump from 54k to 133k ticket requests. Oh I want to believe it is the message of Burning love and one viral YouTube video. But I was not born yesterday.

I personally met a lot of young people who asked me about Burning Man, what famous bands played there, what the accommodations where like (LOL!), etc. Upon hearing the answers they were not interested in going to a hot, dusty desert without food and water, but they were all going to enter the lottery to try and win tickets to resell on Craigslist for $1600. "You cannot lose, man!"

No amount of vetting by BMorg could cull these scalpers because they are not professionals. Instead BMorg wants to believe the golden goose has suddenly laid a 125% increase in interest in Burning Man. No, it is an interest in winning a lottery.

This is great news for burners, there are a lot more tickets out there for resale than BMorg thinks. If BMorg adjusts the public perception the speculative bubble bursts soon so the community can get back on track. If people still believe in the Year of Burner World Domination and a sudden 125% growth year-over-year, they compound scarcity scare on top of having already done that. How to actually sell tickets in June/July instead of January! That is an epic fail to theme camps. So sad if we let it go that way.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby FandangoLiz » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:52 pm

It is dear indeed that the Burning Man experience has imparted a belief in one's fellow man as is represented in this thread. That said, I'd like to say just a little bit about what ticket scalping is all about.

Ticket scalping is a business, and a very profitable one. Amateur scalpers? Are you kidding? Those clowns got their ass handed to them by the system too.

Back in the stone age, ie before the advent of the Internet, professional scalpers would employ homeless folks to stand in ticket lines, and temp workers to attack phone lines. For example, why would two older homeless guys be standing line at the Fillmore to buy Bauhaus tickets all those years ago? Was it because they were goths in their youth? No, it was because the tickets had a high resale value since the event was likely to sell out. We asked them who they worked for, and they refused to tell us, but hopped in a cab to deliver their tickets once they had made their purchase. If you think about how much that process cost the scalper who paid those men, you get an idea how profitable scalping tickets can be.

Its a gambler's business though, because Britney Spears might get committed, or Bono might break his back. They make enough profit though, to take chances on events that might offer a high return.

Now that we are in the Internet age, scalping works a little differently. Scalpers don't employ old homeless dudes to stand in line. They pay for folks to man a small-to-large bank of computers to work the day of the sale to buy as many tickets as they can get with different names, email addresses, etc. Depending on the size of the ticket scalping operation, the worker bees could be in Daly City or the could be in Shanghai. Its a numbers game, where they throw as many bodies as possible at the problem of getting tickets that they hope to sell at a massive profit. Will they be able to sell them? That depends.

How badly do YOU want to go to Burning Man?

If this seems farfetched, think for a moment about the last time you tried to get tickets for Pulp, The Flaming Lips, U2, Giants baseball, Lady Gaga, or any of the other cultural events that can be counted on to sell out. How quickly did the tickets sell out? It was8 minutes, for Pulp. How quickly did tickets for said show appear on ticket resale sites?

Last year, Burning Man sold out for the first time, creating a last minute run on tickets, and a lot of local press. Do you think scalpers who make their living in the Bay Area read the local press? I suspect they do as a matter of course.

Burning Man has become a cultural commodity that scalpers can make money from. Its a gamble, because Burning Man is not a concert, and requires a lot more preparation to be part of it.
That said, scalpers gamble all the time. Win some, lose some. They may get a good return on this event though, because the week before Burning Man, they may be the only source for tickets.

There are big ticket resell operations that specialize in offering tickets for events like World Cup, the Olympics, Donnington, and other big festivals in Europe. They work with smaller sellers, that employ those Internet temps to attack sales sites the minute they go live. They don't offer tickets for the Glastonbury Festival anymore however. Do you know why? Because tickets to Glasto are a name badge with a bar code on a lanyard around your neck with your picture of you on it. If you can't go, you turn your ticket in, get your money back, and your ticket goes to the next person on the waiting list. Nobody is allowed into the festival without their own ticket.

Sure, that would be a pain. And yes, I want to be able to give tickets to people I like, who have helped me, or who's attractiveness makes Burning Man more fun for me. But if I have to choose between not being able to give them a ticket, and 50% or more of tickets going to scalpers, I think I could deal with a more draconian system.

hell, we put up with the DMV.

So please desist with this silly, silly fantasy that the "scalpers" are mean-spirited and venal Burners who a looking to make a quick buck. You are dealing with professionals.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby wraith » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:51 pm

FandangoLiz wrote:
So please desist with this silly, silly fantasy that the "scalpers" are mean-spirited and venal Burners who a looking to make a quick buck. You are dealing with professionals.


Truest statement I've see all day.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Kranster » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:14 pm

Well that's that then. Burning Man 2012 will be "The Year of the Fiasco": where the ethos of non-identity tickets met the professional scalpers and burners lost their shirts and many old theme camps shrank and folded. Or as I said yesterday, BMorg tried to invent a wheel that was even better than the old round one and are shocked it did not work as well. Maybe they pull a rabbit out of a hat, or burners succeed in acting as a community against the scalpers. Maybe they make changes for 2013!

I sure am glad I have one ticket and live 100 miles away so I can have a look at whatever happens out of the chaos without spending $1000's along the way. I should probably cart all my extra supplies and a lot of water. I suspect many of the people that show up won't have a clue about structural integrity of Walmart tents in 70mph windstorms, and no one brings enough water the first time.

Oh well, I have always heard that last year was the last good year, and this year isn't going to be as good!
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Key Man » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:26 pm

AntiM wrote:
jgailor wrote:
theCryptofishist wrote:1 eplaya is NOT a representitive sample.


This is known because...?


There are a mere 36,000 users registered on eplaya. Many are inactive accounts, and many are "dead" spammers who haven't been weeded out, some are sock accounts of one person, and many are one post wonders who forgot their password and never came back, many are wannebas who never have attended and never plan to do so. We have less than 3,000 active posters here. Far less. I could look it up and give you exact numbers, but I don't want to. You could look it up, it is no secret.

So yeah, less than 1% of Burning Man attendees ever post on eplaya. Statistically, that is not a representative sample. Who knows, there could be a whole world of happy burners out there with no reason to go online and complain.


I think it IS a representative sample. I'm a long time AEZ village member. We have a active email list with at least 100 participants, most of whom have been posting for years and very few of whom read or post on this board. I am sure of that, and promise you that the general unhappiness, percentage of tickets granted, and distribution of opinions on the AEZ list is very close to what we see here.
Last edited by Key Man on Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby lessrules » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:32 pm

Kranster wrote:Let's see BM grows less than 10,000 people a year, even shrinking one year, but when a Lottery is announced against a backdrop of last year's network news about $1600 tickets on Craigslist, we suddenly jump from 54k to 133k ticket requests. Oh I want to believe it is the message of Burning love and one viral YouTube video. But I was not born yesterday.

I personally met a lot of young people who asked me about Burning Man, what famous bands played there, what the accommodations where like (LOL!), etc. Upon hearing the answers they were not interested in going to a hot, dusty desert without food and water, but they were all going to enter the lottery to try and win tickets to resell on Craigslist for $1600. "You cannot lose, man!"

No amount of vetting by BMorg could cull these scalpers because they are not professionals. Instead BMorg wants to believe the golden goose has suddenly laid a 125% increase in interest in Burning Man. No, it is an interest in winning a lottery.

This is great news for burners, there are a lot more tickets out there for resale than BMorg thinks. If BMorg adjusts the public perception the speculative bubble bursts soon so the community can get back on track. If people still believe in the Year of Burner World Domination and a sudden 125% growth year-over-year, they compound scarcity scare on top of having already done that. How to actually sell tickets in June/July instead of January! That is an epic fail to theme camps. So sad if we let it go that way.

<--my brain is liking what this guy says
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Theres Always One » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:46 pm

What about this:

You guys need to start thinking long term. Burning Man is growing and its growing faster than the space can support. We've got a population problem. But there is a solution. And the bmorg has figured it out. The best way to attack this problem is to reduce demand.

I know things look really bad this year. Most theme camps have a 30% ticket fulfillment. Seems like most camps aren't going to happen, art car plans are being shelved, and art projects postponed.

By all accounts, the very fabric of our city is tearing apart and it could be the worst year yet.

But, let's look at a potential silver lining here....

If the speculation is true, and the majority of tickets went to scalpers and virgins, it most likely will be a very scaled down year. All those first timers are going to come back so disillusioned. Word will spread and the public perception will shift from burning man being "some life changing experience in the desert" to "meh it was just a lot of people camping. I'd rather go to Coachella".

Once word gets out that Burning Man isn't that great, demand will decline and we can all go back to enjoying our little secret out in the desert.

Long term, people. Let's all make it the worst year ever. Tell the newbies. Tell the media. Nothing to see here.
Last edited by Theres Always One on Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Key Man » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:47 pm

Mitch wrote:I'm not an economist, though I HAVE played one on TV.

I think the sample IS valid because it's not only the people on ePlaya, but their reports of entire camps, encompassing thousands of Burners. Unless you think they're lying -- and Marian has reportedly confirmed the 1/3 guesstimation -- then you have to assume the number is valid.

This tells us a number of things, chief of which is that about 125,000 - 130,000 tickets were bid for in the first two sales. (That 1.7 number is meaningless, btw, could reflect one person in a couple bidding for 2 or 2 people bidding for 4, and doesn't indicate how many people or couples bid).

The other thing it tells us is that veteran burners plus a few newbies (whatever precentage are associated with theme camps) account for 14,333 of the tickets. I'd mentally bump that up a bit on the belief that practically all of the tix in the presale went to veterans and very few went to scalpers. So, let's say 16,000 are veterans, that means 27,000 are newbies or scalpers.

You can play with it from there, but I think demand last year, meaning the number of tickets that were purchased plus the number of tix that would have been purchased had the event not sold out, was no more than 80,000. Remember, the event didn't sell out until the summer. So, 40,000-50,000 bidders represent new demand, either from newbies or scalpers, and there you can take your pick. The OP's 50% IS in the ballpark.

What seems not to have happened is that veteran burners bought more tix than they and their campmates needed -- otherwise the theme camps would have done better.

I don't think the scalpers would list a lot of tickets now, they will want to maintain the perception that there's relative scarcity.


I agree, but also want to point out that the scalpers (actually I say "speculators" because I think most are individual players) won't be listing tickets on ebay and other venues now for the simple reason that they don't yet have the tickets in hand! It's pretty hard to tell a buyer "give me $1500 cash now, and I'll mail your 2 tickets in June", especially if you're a no-name, individual punter. Buyers won't go for that, too many things can go wrong. The sellers know they need to wait, and that prices will probably go up anyway.

The speculators won't show their hands until their hands are holding tickets.
Last edited by Key Man on Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do the math: over 50% of tickets went to scalpers

Postby Kranster » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:51 pm

lessrules wrote:<--my brain is liking what this guy says


Sadly, my experience of citizen-speculator-types is from Reno where BM is constantly in the news as a hometown event. If others elsewhere are not seeing the same thing, it may just be a localized condition, which would not play a large role in bringing tickets to the market. All that may leave the "missing 50%" mainly in the hands of the professional scalpers (see FandangoLiz above). If so, BMorg will not be able to handle market perception against the professionals who will do their best to maintain a fear of scarcity as they dole out our tickets.

Sometimes we all have one last desperate clutch at straws that cannot support the weight of reality. Now, I think BMorg lost and the scalpers won. The good news is plenty of tickets still out there, the bad news is the price.
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