Hong Kong Sevens tickets going for a song is music to fans’ ears and no reason for concern for HKRU
Easter and Ching Ming holidays blamed for overabundance of Sevens tickets and prices on secondary market at less than face value for first time in years
With daylight barely broken on Saturday morning it was an early start for everyone ahead of the big day at the Hong Kong Sevens and plenty of revellers had already started their fun as they stocked up on drinks in 7-Eleven on the way to Hong Kong Stadium.
It was a case of business as usual, however, for the ticket touts.
Despite what appears to be a record number of tickets on the open market, the professionals who come over from the UK every year are still making money, even though profit margins have been cut.
Touts usually manage to acquire tickets at face value or less and, with demand traditionally outstripping supply for what many around the world consider a “bucket-list” event, are able to flip them at a profit.
Not this year. The touts, who asked to remain anonymous citing a fear of bad press, said while they were selling at less than face value, it’s not had a major impact on business during a key weekend on their annual sporting calendar.
They put this year’s excess supply down to the Easter weekend.
That’s the same view expressed by Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie.
“I think the Easter Holidays and Ching Ming Festival have clearly had an impact this year,” he said.
But McRobbie said demand was as high as ever during the initial sales.
“Overall our ticket sales have held steady on previous years, which has been very good so there was no less demand when it came to selling them.”
As unusual as the situation is for the Sevens, it’s no cause for concern. “The actual sales have remained strong so we don’t see this as sign of a downward trend in interest.”
While the touts are making their money, amateur speculators have not been so lucky.
Hong Kong-based WhatsApp groups were abuzz with offers of tickets in the days leading up to the Sevens and almost all of them were priced at face value.
People who bought extra tickets through the normal channels with the intention of selling them on for a profit to cover the cost of their Sevens weekend were back to square one at best.
Supply has outstripped demand and online some tickets for Friday and Sunday were going for as little as HK$300, way below their cost price.
There were only a few people looking for tickets on Twitter and a handful on Hong Kong’s Craigslist, though many of the latter appeared to be touts looking to stock up.
Meanwhile, on online ticket reselling platforms Viagogo, which partners with the HKRU as the official secondary market for the Sevens, and Stub Hub prices for Saturday’s in-demand tickets were hovering a little over face value after the first day’s action had finished on Friday night. These were snapped up.
McRobbie sees tickets going on Viagogo for around their original cost as a good thing: “It shows that that platform is actually working, it’s reacting to demand and it’s providing the tickets at a reasonable, affordable level for fans to enjoy the experience.”
Not everyone got the message that this was not the year to make money, though.
Some resellers were still asking for up to HK$5,000 for Saturday tickets on Friday night and they went unsold.
It was the same story for the man on Caroline Hill Road holding a handful of tickets and asking HK$2,000 for each of them.
It might be a long day for him.
For once tickets have been a buyer’s market and that’s at least one area of the Sevens where fans can save a bit of money.
For anyone who can face Sunday, they will certainly be able to get tickets for less than face value.
McRobbie advised fans to use Viagogo, warning of the forged tickets of a few years ago that led the HKRU to appoint an authorised secondary market and that their partnership allows them to reinvest in the game.
“The unauthorised markets, the only people who are winning are the touts.
“We would like to see the government change legislation to make ticket scalping in government venues illegal but until that happens we have to make the best of the current situation.”