You love going to live entertainment, whether it’s a comedy show, musical, play or sporting event in your city. But with the down economy and penny-pinching by most people these days, it is becoming harder and harder to do. That’s where Los Angeles-based Goldstar comes in.
The company has been in business for almost a decade, providing users with discounted tickets to entertainment events in their market.
With the advent of daily deal sites seemingly popping up each month, the company has been grouped in with sites like Groupon and Living Social. But Goldstar CEO Jim McCarthy said that’s just not the case as they were around long before these companies even launched.
“Goldstar is the answer to the question, how do I go out to live entertainment more than I do? Whenever we ask people if they’d like to go out more, almost everybody says they’d like to go out more,” McCarthy said. “But there are any number of barriers from simple awareness to price to logistics that keep people from going to all these great events.”
He said that while many of the daily deal sites send email blasts for just one particular deal each day, Goldstar works with venues in the 20 cities across the country where it is available (just launched last month in Philadelphia).
“We have relationships that are many, many years old with the great majority of venues in a given city. So our goal is to have everything (available). That’s a little different from the model that says we’re going to take one thing and blast it out to everybody once a day,” he said. “There are some things we choose to promote a little more heavily, but in San Francisco and San Jose for example, there are more than 200 events on the site.”
McCarthy said most of the tickets they offer are half-price. He also likes the fact that there are peer reviews, which allows for users to get a better sense of what to expect. “We were the first to offer real-time reviews for live entertainment and we’re still neck and neck with Ticketmaster in terms of reviews that are available. Reviews are critical because one of the things that keeps people from live entertainment is a knowledge of what’s going on,” he said. “If you think about it, you would never go to see a movie unless you wanted to without having some sense of what people thought about it.”
With the advent of social media, McCarthy said Goldstar is trying to take full advantage, using Facebook and Twitter as a way for users to share their service.
“For us, Facebook has been a very valuable way of connecting with primarily our more enthusiastic existing customers, rather than as a customer-acquisition channel,” he said. “People do a lot of sharing of Goldstar. 60-70 percent of the people who sign up do so because someone told them about Goldstar, one way or another.”
McCarthy said that the company continues to grow (about 50 percent a year in terms of ticket volume/members recently) because they try to focus on the basics of providing a great ticket-buying experience for users. That includes a new feature, which they have a patent pending for, called “Sit with Friends.” “How it works is like this. If you are the person organizing an outing with a group of people, there’s a conundrum. How many tickets should I buy if you’re not positive how many people are going and how do I ask them to pay me back?” he said. “Once you buy tickets on Goldstar, you are given a link. You can share this link with your friends and if they buy through this link, you will be seated with them automatically. Problems solved”
Although he does not consider Goldstar to be a part of the daily deal industry, McCarthy said he expects some of those sites to continue to prosper, but in a different way over the next few years. “There’s something very real and solid about the daily deal concept, which some companies have proven. But that was quickly followed by a bunch of people with dollar signs in their eyes,” McCarthy said. “Over the next couple of years, you can expect a gradual die-off of most of those because there simply isn’t enough inventory for that number of people to sell, particularly when they are not really different from each other. What you hear is that you have merchants being called by 10 different clones of companies like Groupon and Living Social everyday. I think the industry is going to be very robust, but more consolidated than it is today.”
Overall, McCarthy said he is very pleased with where Goldstar is heading and hopes to be in every major U.S. city over the next few years.
Photo Credit: Goldstar