Great American Beer Festival Turning Into Great American PR Disaster For Ticketmaster

Drinking beer is supposed to be fun. Drinking beer with several thousand other people who also enjoy drinking beer should be even more fun. And yet, the folks at Ticketmaster have been doing all they can to make it as complicated as possible for beer fans to go to the Great American Beer Festival.

The mess began earlier this week, when Ticketmaster accidentally blocked members of the American Homebrewers Association and Brewers Association from buying tickets for the GABF’s members-only Saturday session but also opened up these tickets to the rest of the general public.

Not surprisingly, this resulted in a feeding frenzy, as non-members scooped up tickets they should not have been able to buy.

Ticketmaster then had to figure out a way to void all those tickets and find a way to make them available only to the people who should have been able to purchase them in the first place.

But the story is not over.

This morning, the 49,000 remaining tickets went on sale to the general public. While the event has been selling at a faster pace over the years, it still took an entire week for all those tickets to sell out to last year’s GABF.

But every ticket to this year’s celebration of suds was gone within 45 minutes of going on sale on Ticketmaster.

While event organizers have spent the morning bragging about the rapid sell-out, those who had hoped to buy tickets are crying foul, saying that ticket brokers got the best of Ticketmaster’s system.

“Is that what the AHA cares about?” asks one beer fan on the AHA Facebook page. “Selling out? Well then you’ve done well. You’ve sold out your members and real beer fans to ticket master. Sell out is right.”

Adds another, “Well now I guess I need to buy scalped tickets, since I already have plane and hotel booked…”

But a rep for the Brewers Association says the quick sell-out is a reflection of people suddenly realizing they didn’t want to miss out on the fun:

“Demand for tickets outstripped supply, simply put…. Like a lot of large events, like the Super Bowl or big-name concerts like Phish shows, simply more people were online all at once than the quantity of tickets available…

“I think people looked at last year’s one-week sell-out and said, ‘I think I’m going to get tickets earlier this year.’ And that resulted in a blazingly fast sellout.”

As for whether or not the GABF will use Ticketmaster going forward, the rep hedges: “We are in a process of gathering feedback about this year’s ticket sale and I don’t think I have anything to add to that.”

Great American Beer Festival tickets gone in record time [Denver Post]

Thanks to Gene for the tip!
Beer lovers frothy over ticket sales mess []