A lesson in Scalping Dalai Lama tickets

You may or may not know, but the Dalai Lama is coming to Stanford on October 14th. This is big news! Everyone wants to see him speak, the demand for tickets is so high that tickets were actually sold out 2 weeks after his visit was announced over the summer.

Now there are 3 types of tickets you should know about:

  1. Morning lecture tickets – sold for $20 to Stanford student (more to others)
  2. Afternoon lecture tickets – not being sold, but being assigned via lottery to Stanford students
  3. Conference tickets – a bundle of both the morning and afternoon lecture and a few other things – sold for $30

So to my surprise I got the following email on my dorm chat list:

On Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 2:39 PM, John wrote:

Hey Guys,

Before I came to school, I bought two tickets to the Dalai Lama’s
Conference: Scientific Explorations of Compassion and Altruism. I
just found out that I will not be able to make it. It’s on Friday
October 15th 9am-4pm in MemAud. I bought the tickets for like $33 a
piece online, but I’m willing to go to 30. Email if you are
interested in the tickets. One or both.

Thanks,
John
______________________________

This is how out email conversation then played out:

—– Original Message —–
From: “Al-Karim Lalani”
To: “John”
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:13:23 PM
Subject: Re: [crothers-grimm-chat] Dalai Lama Conference Tickets
Anyone?

NO! This is a bad economic strategy. I need to give you a lesson on
bundling. You could be making money.

Al-Karim

On Sep 30, 2010, at 9:20 PM, John wrote:

haha i’m not trying to make money. I’m just trying to get rid of
them without losing so much

—– Original Message —–
From: “Al-Karim Lalani”
To: “John”
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:20:55 PM
Subject: Re: [crothers-grimm-chat] Dalai Lama Conference Tickets
Anyone?

doesn’t this give you entrance into both the morning lecture and the
rathbun lecture at 2?

On Sep 30, 2010, at 9:23 PM, John wrote:

yeah i think. I can’t make it that day

—– Original Message —–
From: “Al-Karim Lalani”
To: “John”
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:25:19 PM
Subject: Re: [crothers-grimm-chat] Dalai Lama Conference Tickets Anyone?

send out another email being like selling the DL morning lecture
ticket (value 20 bucks) and the Harry Rathbun Lecture ticket by the DL
that day (value $20) together for a total of 38 bucks

that way you make 5 bucks.

its called bundling.

On Sep 30, 2010, at 9:30 PM, John wrote:

I like it. You’re the man

From:     John
Subject:     [crothers-grimm-chat] Selling Dalai Lama Morning and Afternoon Lecture Ticket
Date:     September 30, 2010 9:34:18 PM PDT
To:     crothers-grimm-chat@lists.stanford.edu

Hey dudes & dudettes,

I have a ticket to the Dalai Lama morning lecture (face value $20) and the Dalai Lama afternoon lecture (face value $20) on October 15th. I can’t make it, so I’m willing to sell this bad boy for $38 all together. Email if you’re interested.

Thanks

From:     John
Subject:     [crothers-grimm-chat] Can’t sell the tickets separately so I’ll bring the price down to 30. Email. EOM.
Date:     September 30, 2010 10:13:35 PM PDT
To:     crothers-grimm-chat@lists.stanford.edu

From:     John
Subject:     [crothers-grimm-chat] Ticket gone :/
Date:     September 30, 2010 10:19:01 PM PDT
To:     crothers-grimm-chat@lists.stanford.edu

—– Original Message —–
From: “Al-Karim Lalani”
To: “John”
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:33:37 PM
Subject: Re: [crothers-grimm-chat] Ticket gone :/

Its a sad day for economists.

From:     John
Subject:     Re: [crothers-grimm-chat] Ticket gone :/
Date:     September 30, 2010 10:37:41 PM PDT
To:     Al-Karim

demand for both wasn’t there. people wanted to buy just one. and I’m an engineer anyway 🙂

I was really excited when I thought John would make some money by bundling. But it broke my heart when that failed. Here are a few takeaways though:

  • The transaction costs of passing on the ticket from the morning lecture to the person who would attend the afternoon lecture were way too high for this to be feasible
  • Next time don’t bundle non-complementary goods (I guess people were choosing between one lecture and the other, ie. they were substitutes)
  • Have patience – this whole ordeal took place within an hour. I feel like someone would have bought it for a higher price had John waited a day.
  • And on second though, don’t try to rebundle a bundle. This was less of a bundling exercise and more of an advertising exercise where we tried to change a persons perception of the bundle.
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About alalani
I grew up in Tanzania and now I'm a student at Stanford!

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