Date
27 April 2018
Standup commedian Wong Tse-wah called on his fans not to buy tickets from scalpers. Photo: Facebook
Standup commedian Wong Tse-wah called on his fans not to buy tickets from scalpers. Photo: Facebook

Wong Tse-wah’s shows and the economics of ticket scalping

Tickets to standup comedian Wong Tze-wah’s upcoming shows are said to fetch more than HK$10,000 thanks to scalpers. They were originally priced between HK$280 and HK$880.

Wong plans to stage 17 shows at the Hong Kong Coliseum from July 6 to 22.

There are more shows this year than before. Wong had eight shows in 2010, 10 in 2012 and 11 in 2014 at the same venue. Over the years, he has built up a huge following, and so the strong demand is not surprising.

Tickets sold out so quickly, but there is an additional factor – ticket scalpers have been very active.

The scalpers are said to have snapped up a large number of the tickets, and they are now offering them at four times the original price on average.

In one extreme case, an HK$880 ticket was being sold for 8,888 yuan (HK$11,000 or US$1,413) online. According to the website, 287 tickets had been sold at that price.

Yet there is no assurance those who paid a premium to these e-scalpers will get their tickets. There are many unscrupulous vendors who sell tickets that they don’t actually have. This tactic is like short-selling stocks one does not own, in the hope of covering the position at a lower price.

In response to the rampant ticket scalping, Wong openly called on his fans not to buy tickets from scalpers.

One might ask why Wong does not simply stage more shows to increase market supply, or just hike the official ticket price. Well, in the real world things are a bit more complicated.

Hong Kong Coliseum has an extremely tight schedule, so it may not be feasible to arrange for more shows.

Also, show organizers often intentionally keep a tight supply as a hunger marketing tactic. Scarcity is typically one of the factors that make a show hot.

Wong could choose to charge a lot more, but if he did, he would be under a great deal of pressure to make sure his shows are really worth their price and fans won’t go home feeling cheated.

The full article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 28

Translation by Julie Zhu 

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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