To the consumer layperson’s eye, online ticket merchant Goldstar might look like any of its daily deals brethren (Groupon, LivingSocial, et. al.) — offer another business’ product at a deep discount, and take a big cut of the sale price. In fact, its revenue model is far less predatory. Maybe that’s why the membership-based site, predicated on selling half-priced entertainment, just sold its five millionth ticket.
Goldstar has relationships with about 5,000 venues and their partners, all of whom keep the full sale from the ticket. Goldstar itself makes money from variable convenience fees. Though show-goers and sports game attendees might normally balk at that tacked-on cost, since Goldstar offers excess ticket inventory that’s all discounted (usually by half) right from the start, their customers are already guaranteed a deal. Meanwhile, the venues are making money off tickets they otherwise wouldn’t have sold. It’s a pretty symbiotic way to do business, and the site now has over 2 million members.
Upon signing up (which is free), Goldstar tailors its weekly offerings to new users by requesting they answer a short questionnaire on their preferred events. Options range from jazz to sports to the performing arts, along with the more standard Groupon-esque category of “spas and massage.” The site’s success seems partly predicated on its wide-ranging options — selling tickets to Mary Poppins, a nighttime cruise through New York Harbor, and a Yankees game pretty much guarantees a diverse consumer audience.
And, in a clever, functional marketing move, Goldstar just launched a “Sit with Friends” component. Through the feature, ticket buyers can send friends a unique link (through email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to likewise buy tickets and be automatically seated together.
All in all, the site deserves credit for offering a consistent service that offers traceable discounts to its members. It’s also successfully walking a fine line between the mosh pit of daily deals and, on the other side, full retail ticket outlets like Ticketmaster, which are convenient but certainly no steal. (And does Sean Moriarty, Ticketmaster’s CEO, realize that? He’s on Goldstar’s advisory board.) At any rate, as merchants and venues get wise to the pitfalls of offering third-party discounts, we’d expect a non-predatory model like Goldstar’s to only continue taking off.