Ticket Prices Starting To Drop

2014 Stubhub Data

2014 Stubhub Data

I’ve been tracking the price and quantity available for tickets and vehicle prices on Stubhub for the last few weeks. Good news for Burners who don’t have a ticket or vehicle pass yet: the prices are dropping, and the number available is starting to increase – a sign of further price drops to come. Today the price has dropped below $800 for the first time.

If you want to sell your ticket or vehicle pass and pocket a few hundred dollars extra, the time to list it is now because we expect the decline in secondary market prices will accelerate.

worlds_greatest_snark_men_cartoon_cut_out-r9a83c0394833419ab23721395e19d643_x7saw_8byvr_324The Burning Man snark group have announced that they will snitch to BMOrg on anyone selling tickets above face value. Meanwhile, BMOrg themselves have been selling tickets to chosen insiders for much more than $380 for months. They justify this by saying that $250 of the price premium will be donated to the Burning Man Project (why not the whole amount?)

More than 2500 tickets have now been sold back to BMOrg through STEP at face value (minus a loss for the Burner on transaction costs). If you sell a ticket to STEP at face value, does BMOrg try to resell this for $650 to insiders, before it goes into the STEP re-sale queue? It’s impossible for us to say for sure, we can only suspect. Even most of the people employed by BMOrg wouldn’t have direct access to the algorithms and data involved in this process. Will only 1000 tickets be sold in the OMG sale? Again, this is difficult to say except for a very few insiders at BMOrg and Ticketfly. These details don’t show up in any IRS filings for their 501(c)3 non-profit, or their Afterburn Report.

caravansary ticketThere is a discrepancy of 9,000 tickets (face value: $3,420,000) between the officially sold ones, and the population cap. These tickets may be “handed out to volunteers”, who sell them to their camps or on the after-market as a reward for their time. Or they may be “scalped for $650 by BMOrg” ($5,850,000), with any excess inventory being washed through STEP and OMG sales. There is no clear statement from BMOrg about these mysteriously missing 9,000 tickets: where are they, who has them, what are they doing with them?

There is still a “last chance OMG sale” coming up, supposedly of 1000 tickets.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 12pm (noon) PDT: OMG Sale ($380) registration begins
Monday, August 4, 2014 12pm (noon) PDT: OMG Sale ($380) registration closes
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12pm (noon) PDT: OMG Sale ($380) starts

Why not just put all those tickets into STEP? Why make Burners try to log on again at a certain time and get in yet another queue? It makes little sense, unless you see STEP and OMG as ways for insiders to unload a leftover bunch of tickets they haven’t been able to sell on the secondary market.

This Friday, July 25th, is the last day that STEP tickets will be offered to anyone in the queue. We believe it’s also the last day to buy $650 BMOrg scalper donation tickets if you have the special code. If you don’t have your ticket by noon Pacific time on Friday, then your only official chance is the OMG sale – register next week, try to get in the queue the following week, and hope you’re one of the lucky 1000; and your only real chance is the aftermarket on Stubhub, Craiglist and eBay.

Anyone who wants to unload tickets is forced to sell them on the secondary market, after noon PST Friday July 25th. Since many people who have bought tickets still haven’t received them in the mail yet, the quantity listed on Stubhub is probably going to increase. If you price the ticket you’re selling at $380 on Friday, for sure you will sell it…but this is probably true if you price it at $780 too.

In the past, we’ve seen this trend play out before, with ticket prices dropping as the event gets closer. People realize that their friends couldn’t get tickets, so they don’t want to go. Their ride fell through, and they couldn’t get a vehicle pass. Something came up at work or in their family. They split up with their BF or GF. There are all kinds of perfectly legitimate reasons why someone might want to sell a ticket, and the closer we get to the event, the more desperate those sellers become.

We predicted the situation would be different this year with the new vehicle passes, that they would increase in scarcity and therefore value as we got closer to the event. They definitely increased in value, they’ve been a scalper goldmine from day one, selling for as much as ten times their face value. But the number for sale is increasing too. Either we got it wrong, or we were right that they could sell more than 35,000 vehicle passes and no-one would be the wiser. Only motorbikes and planes can get in without a vehicle pass, otherwise you’re going to get all the way out there, line up for 8 hours, only to be told to turn around and go home. Officially, you can’t buy either a vehicle pass or a ticket at the gate.

copenhagen Zoo_BusThere is a Bus Service, Burner Express, but that’s limited to 5,000 people. Tickets are $250 for a round trip from San Francisco with bike, and they still appear to be available.

At Burners.Me, we’ve always maintained that if you buy a ticket it’s yours, if you want to sell it, it’s yours. If scalpers are such a big problem (which they’re not), why refuse to link tickets to IDs even though everyone’s ID gets checked on the way in? Is it to facilitate their own scalping? Why should BMOrg be able to sell tickets above face value, but Burners can’t? How does “scalping a ticket” possibly harm the Burning Man party, anyway? You could sell your ticket for $880, donate $250 to the Burning Man Project, and keep $250 for yourself. Or you could keep all the profit for yourself, after all we live in capitalism not communism. Unless you’re at the largest gathering on US Federal land, Black Rock City, where all commerce is banned…except for all the commerce that isn’t.



20 comments on “Ticket Prices Starting To Drop

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  5. Some of those 9000 are discounted tickets sold to fire tribes that get into conclave, as well as videographers, musicians, and safety’s 1 for every 4 performers. It adds up

  6. I don’t really get one part of this article. Is this an official statement of Burning Man recommending to sell tickets now before the price drops, in order to perpetuate further scalping above face value? IF so, just another reason that this event is slipping.

    • this blog is not an official statement of Burning Man in any way. I am making a personal recommendation to anyone who thinks “if Burning Man is allowed to make profit, I should be able to make profit”. The official recommendation is “if Burning Man is allowed to make profit, that’s good, if anyone else is allowed to make profit that is in any way related to Burning Man, that’s bad”. When they sell merchandise, like a scarf for $150, that’s good. When you sell merchandise, like a t-shirt with last year’s camp photo on it for $20, that’s bad.
      I don’t make the rules, I just share my opinion on them. Which is bad.

      • in fact, the official position of Burning Man *is* “sell tickets now” – sell them into STEP before Friday at face value, approx $500 less than market value. Officially, the reason for that used to be “to prevent scalping”, but then Larry Harvey told us scalping wasn’t a problem. So now, the official reason is “Burners don’t profit from other Burners”, or something. It’s hard for me to explain it because it seems like nonsense to me. Maybe someone else wants to take a crack at breaking down the logic in simple terms, to tell us why you have to sell your ticket to them today for a $500 loss, while if you wait until Friday you can sell the cheapest ticket available in the world and still make a profit.

  7. “How does “scalping a ticket” possibly harm the Burning Man party, anyway?”

    If everyone gets selfish with ticket reselling, it further discourages anyone on a smaller budget from attending the event. While not everyone has to work as hard as others for the money they pour into their burn, I bristle at the thought of more weekenders getting tickets than dedicated burners just because the latter is more strapped for cash.

    But of course, it all comes down to one’s personal ethics.

  8. I’ve never had my ID checked by gate staff in the 10 years I’ve been going. Early entry or after the gate opens.
    I’ve only been asked to show ID by theme camps serving alcohol.

    • the last 4 times I’ve been, the people who came into the RV checking for tickets and hidden bodies asked for our IDs also. One of them smashed bottles all over the floor when he opened the (far too tiny for any human) RV fridge without asking us first.

      • Heres the thing, they arent just checking for bodies, they are checking for things like : feathers, live plants, animals, and other things that are not allowed. It is your responsibility to watch what we are doing and tell us if we are going into an area that is either packed too tightly, or locked, or anything else. We tell you, as we board your RV, we will be searching everywhere. And we are in fact supposed to check IDs on the way in, but for no particular reason.

  9. Perhaps the intent is to foster the ticket giveaway that happened in the NYC area the week before the 2013 Burn. If you make resale convoluted enough, and put a scare out that your resold ticket might be canceled, people will just give them away.

    At least the BOrg is setting a good standard for the type of event NOT to contribute to. Find another stone soup pot for your veggies to share.

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