Will Burning Man Overcome Scalping?

Approximately 53,000 Burning Man tickets were sold by July 24th, 2011, making it the first year that the event sold out in its 25 years of existence. In efforts to combat the growing  scalping attempts the Burning Man Organization (BMOrg) has instituted a lottery system, which began yesterday.

There are already a few resale sites that are offering tickets ranging for $700-1610 a piece.  Keep in mind that the highest price tickets are selling for through the legal portal is $390. Resellers are also showing that tickets will ship between February 1st and August 24th although BMOrg has stated that tickets will not ship until some time after June 1st, without giving a specific date. In Coachella’s attempt to thwart scalper’s buying up all tickets they decided to host identical festivals over two weekends, with the same lineup. Of course burning two men, two temples and cleaning out the city and ushering in 50,000 people for a second week of Burning Man is highly improbable.

There are a couple things that BMOrg can do to try and combat scalpers before they become a cancer to the event.

  • Associate names with ticket numbers so you can track the movement of a ticket, even if the names are only virtually paired
  • Force purchases to resell their tickets through a BMOrg portal
  • Include verbiage to combat scalping in the Terms & Conditions

We first heard of the lottery/random selection system a few months ago and are now seeing if this system will be viable. There are tens of thousands of ‘burners’ queuing for a chance to be randomly selected for one of the 40,000 tickets being offered at the end of this month, potentially including those that did not receive a ticket purchase confirmation during December’s 3,000 ticket pre-sale.

For the next 13 days, at least, it’s a waiting game. Shortly after January 22nd the lucky 40,000 tickets will be randomly distributed to their very lucky recipients. Let’s hope that the far majority actually go to people genuinely interested in attending Burning Man and not looking to make a quick buck off of someone that has been saving up for this amazing place they call ‘home.’

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