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Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Ruby Lambert

Revealing the hidden fees, a new way to buy tickets

UW-Madison student Cameron Roth’s Tixplorer aims to make the ticket buying process as simple and carefree as possible.

A quick look at StubHub shows the cheapest tickets to the Milwaukee Bucks’ home finale against the Memphis Grizzlies are $83 each. Tixplorer shows the real price: $114.38.

The ticket buying experience has turned into one full of hidden fees at every turn. With Tixplorer, University of Wisconsin-Madison senior Cameron Roth aims to streamline the entire ordeal. By pairing with top ticket merchants, Roth found a way to save users time by quickly analyzing which website has the cheapest tickets and lowest markup percentages for the sporting event they want to go to.

The website, which launched in March, works with top ticket retailers to make the process of buying tickets for sporting events “as simple and carefree as possible for the consumer,” Roth said. Tixplorer offers a variety of events — from leagues like the NFL and NBA to horse racing and tennis — showing the price, with fees, from a plethora of websites such as Ticketmaster, StubHub, SeatGeek and Viagogo.

For Roth, a Houston native and avid lover of sports who has seen friends go through the hectic process of trying to obtain the cheapest ticket for different sporting events, enough was enough upon looking for tickets to an Astros game.

“I had about five or six different ticket site tabs open, and so that’s where I got the idea to make the next Expedia for tickets,” Roth said. 

Naturally, he searched for the type of service he was looking for. After hours of not finding anything suitable, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

A senior studying marketing, Roth got to work on a new project — starting a business from the ground up in January 2023. He built the entire user interface of the website by himself while working to get in contact with ticket retailers. He hired a freelance coder to do work on the back-end and had the unwavering support of his family dog Winston, he said.

But Roth wasn’t alone. His father is a business owner, and, throughout the process, Roth would reach out to ask questions about certain processes, he noted.

“He really wanted me to do it independently, but I would always go to him,” he said. “I pretty much call him every day, and so every time I’d call him, it always ended up with me asking him a question about the company or how he would go about it.”

Even with his father’s advice, Roth found breaking into the industry was not easy. With no leverage and massive corporations such as Viagogo and Ticketmaster dominating the industry, Roth had to be persistent. 

“I had to approach them [other companies] in a way that they didn’t even think I was a threat to them,” he said. “I don’t even think they really knew what I was trying to do, but it got to the point where they were just tired of dealing with me.”

After two months of back and forth, with certain companies refusing his requests for data and some even asking him to cancel partnerships with other companies, Roth was able to get what he needed to finally kickstart his website. Roth was able to use his unique position as an undergraduate student as a path to obtain the necessary information. 

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While off to a good start, Roth explained he has not yet reached the end of the road in discussions with other companies. 

Although Roth does receive a cut of every sale made through his website — the direct result of an affiliate model he is partnered through — Tixplorer is limited only to what ticketing corporations give it. Currently, users can only buy general admission tickets or nosebleed seats, but Roth said his “final goal” is to expand to a full seating chart — this would give users the ability to compare prices based on individual seats by scrolling through a multitude of options and picking the one they think is the best deal.

For now, Roth is looking to expand the Tixplorer team. 

“I reached out to the head of the computer science school [at UW-Madison] — we’re looking for a team of coders that are really going to push this to the next step,” he said. 

He also wants to expand the company’s reach. With ticketing startups on the rise, Roth hopes he can become a platform for smaller companies to advertise themselves, allowing him to tap into the international market as well as other areas such as concerts, theater, comedy and even the student section at football games. 

“I’m already a step ahead of everyone,” Roth said. “I want to keep that and be multiple steps ahead.”

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Tomer Ronen

Tomer Ronen is the Features Editor for the Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @TRonen22.

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