Ticketing hurdles for 2012 Olympics
London 2012 says its ticket resale website will reopen next week after it was taken down on its first day of operation last Friday.
Officials from organising committee Locog currently overseeing attempts to resolve the ticketing problems, led by commercial director Chris Townsend, won't say it publicly but anyone hoping to buy tickets from those selling them may have to wait a bit longer.
Having spent the week testing Ticketmaster's flawed resale system, it is clear London 2012 can no longer risk its reputation by trying to match sellers with buyers instantly.
Instead Locog, as part of its commitment to provide customers with a secure and legal way to sell unwanted tickets and avoid touts, will buy back tickets from those fans who no longer want them.
London 2012 games has been hit by an unprecedented demand for tickets which forced the Ticketmaster website to shut down. Photo: Getty
Once it has gathered all the returned tickets - and that number is expected to be a tiny fraction of the overall 6.6 million tickets available to the British public - it will look to put them on sale again at a later date, probably as part of the final sell-off of the one million remaining tickets in April or May.
This is entirely sensible. There is only one thing worse than not getting tickets and that is being told you have them only to discover subsequently that the website was too slow to update and the tickets you thought you had bought went to someone else – as happened in the second round of ticket sales last year.
But there are still serious questions for London 2012 and Ticketmaster to answer on the ticket sales process.
Although Locog will blame its partner (and sponsor) for the way the ticketing process has been run, it knows its reputation has been badly hit by the various setbacks, from the initial disappointment of the first phase of ticket sales which seemed to reward those who gambled big money on vast numbers of tickets, to the second public offering, with the technical gremlins set out above.
The number of tickets being sold back into London 2012 is likely to be small. But many big challenges lie ahead.
How will the sale of the last million tickets be handled? Will it be “first come, first served” or will those punters who have missed out twice get a short period to graze over the site before everybody else – as a reward for their commitment?
Then Ticketmaster and London 2012 face the difficult task of printing the 6.6 million tickets, keeping them secure and distributing them. There are a lot of pitfalls along the way.
Unless Townsend and his colleagues at Locog get a grip on the ticketing process now then it could become an even more toxic issue for them in the run-up to the Games. It sounds like today is a step in the right direction.