A frustrated gig goer who set up a Twitter account encouraging fans to exchange tickets for sold-out shows at face value has created one of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses after enabling 45,000 “spare” tickets to be sold.
Richard Davies, a London web designer, created the @Twickets exchange after seeing a fan offering to give away last minute tickets for a show for free on Twitter, rather than let them go to waste.
Davies believed that many other people who had tickets for music, theatre or sports events they could not attend, would rather sell them at cost price or less to real fans, rather than cash in and sell them on at a profit through secondary ticket websites.
Davies created Twickets in November 2011 as an aggregator for spare tickets in Britain and the concept – that all tickets must be sold for face value or less – spread by word of mouth. Last week a Twickets iPhone app went on sale and topped the iTunes new app chart, selling 30,000 downloads.
The @Twickets account has facilitated the exchange of 45,000 spare tickets, with a conversion rate of 50 per cent and rising of tickets posted being bought.
The @Twickets concept is beginning to challenge the business plans of secondary ticket sites, such as Viagogo and Seatwave, where hundreds of tickets for big shows are marked up in price immediately after their sale at the box office.
An £85 tickets for a Beyonce show at the O2 Arena is being advertised on Seatwave for £1111.79.
However last week, tickets for sold-out London shows by Kanye West and Dave Grohl, offered for around £200 on secondary sites, could be found for £60 or below on Twickets. Face value tickets for the Brit Awards and Capital One League Cup Final between Bradford City and Swansea City were also being exchanged.
Mr Davies said: “People are sick of having to use the secondary market to buy over-priced tickets. We want to erode that market because people know they can get a face value ticket through us.”
Although Mr Davies runs a digital company, Future Platforms, he is not making any profit from Twickets. “We might find ways to monetise Twickets in the future but the mission is simply to ensure that empty seats are filled at any UK event, no matter how big or small. On average 10 per cent of tickets go unused and through Twickets we aim to drastically reduce that number. We had great success helping to exchange tickets during the Olympics.”
Mr Davies pursued the concept after he managed to get a last minute ticket to see Swedish singer Lykke Li at the Camden Roundhouse from a fan on Twitter. The Twickets exchange has expanded to include train and ferry tickets as well as entertainment events. The account retweets any sales posts with a Twickets hashtag to its 13,000 followers.
Twickets currently operates in the UK but Mr Davies said: “We hope to expand to Ireland next. People have contacted us in New York saying they want to introduce it there.”
The community polices itself, the founder says, with anyone breaching the face-value requirement being reported as a bad seller. But Mr Davies, a West Ham fan, insists that the exchange of Premiership football tickets will not cause crowd control issues if supporters of one team find themselves sitting with their opponents’ fans.
Twickets received backing from Sharon Hodgson, a Labour MP campaigning to crack down on ticket tours. Ms Hodgson said: “Ordinary fans are being squeezed out of gigs and shows thanks to unscrupulous touts exploiting the hard work and talent of others. Twickets is already what the secondary market should be about: true fans selling to true fans at face value.”
On @Twickets now:
Book of Mormon – Prince of Wales Theatre – Twickets – 2 tickets £110 Viagogo - £293.15
Sigur Ros – Brixton Academy, Friday March 8 – Twickets – 2 tickets £60 Viagogo - £347.86
Girls Aloud – O2 Arena, Sat March 2 – Twickets £42 Viagogo - £110
Justin Bieber – O2 Arena, Thurs March 7 – Twickets - 2 tickets £100 Viagogo - £196.39
Train – Newcastle to London 1st Class, Fri March 8 – Twickets £45 The Train Line.com - £79.50