For ticket-selling businesses, nothing beats “sold out”. But whether or not a flight sells all of its tickets, or a sports team fills their stadium, the show must go on. Businesses with perishable inventory stand to gain the most from the daily deals model, and those that can make money on complementary goods (creating purchases that make up for revenues lost in offering the discount) can often break even — take movie theaters or sports venues, for example.
This is where a company called Goldstar enters the field. Goldstar is membership-based website for half-price live entertainment tickets, that allows venues to unload their extra tickets, make some additional revenue, and generate word-of-mouth marketing.
Goldstar, which currently has relationships with more than 5,000 venue-partners around the country (from Cirque du Soleil and Ticketmaster to the San Francisco Giants) and counts Matt Coffin, Emmy Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris, and former Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty as members of its advisory board, wants to avoid just becoming the “Groupon for entertainment tickets”.
To differentiate its model from the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial, Goldstar avoids splitting revenues with merchants and instead monetizes by taking a cut of the service charge on each ticket sold ($4.50 on average), allowing entertainment venues — or the shows themselves — to take home the full cost of each ticket sold.
So far, this model has been working for the entertainment ticket site, as Goldstar recently announced that it has sold its five millionth ticket and now has over 2 million members in more than 20 major U.S. markets. The site now offers 1,200 to 1,500 half-priced tickets each day.
Of course, as anyone who has taken advantage of ticket discounts knows — while the simple gratification of scoring a deal on tickets is all well and good, we want to be able to go to a movie or a show and sit with our friends. Unseat.me, for example, attacks this friend problem by allowing season ticket holders to offer their tickets to friends before selling them to anonymous folks on StubHub.
And today, Goldstar is announcing its own solution designed to allow ticket buyers and vendors to tackle this problem with its “Sit With Friends” feature. Goldstar’s new patent-pending feature allows Goldstar members who buy tickets to receive a personalized link that they can then share with friends via email or their social network of choice. Users can use that link to purchase tickets to the same event and get automatically seated with their friends.
With five million tickets sold, Goldstar has come a long way since it sold its first batch of tickts to a horse ballet in Pasadena back in 2003. The company has never accepted outside investment, yet has managed to stay profitable — with a sales staff of only a dozen employees. Goldstar CEO Jim McCarthy says that the key to resisting large sales forces a la Groupon has been to cultivate their existing relationships with venues and shows, rather than focus on closing new merchants who may never use the site again.
In terms of the future roadmap, McCarthy says that Goldstar is looking to expand into new cities across the U.S., and improve on its core technology, building out new features like Sit With Friends that encourage people to get out to see live entertainment — in spite of a tight economy.