Applying for tickets: a costly and risky Olympic game

So today the London 2012 ticketing site opened. Important things went well:

  • It didn’t suffer a logjam of people hitting F5 like deranged woodpeckers.
  • It was possible to apply for things in a relatively clear manner.
  • You got a pretty good user journey through the process.

Now about some of the other stuff…

It is something of a confusion when you give your card details without actually being guaranteed a purchase. It’s one thing to apply for something but another for the money to be coming out of the account before you’ve even been told what you’re buying.

So I’m now in a position where if I end up with all the tickets I’ve applied for, at the highest price I’m willing to pay, it will cost me over £700. Equally, if I get nothing, it will cost me nothing. But to get a pair of tickets for a single event, I’ll be stumping up a minimum of maybe £80.

I’m lucky enough to have a credit card and a significant disregard for spending on it. Many don’t have either, or at least avoid the latter if possible. For them, applying for tickets is a going to be a pretty stressful experience.

Do you apply for the most you think you can afford, on the basis that you can only risk spending that much? Or, do you apply for all the events you would like to go to, on the basis that events will be oversubscribed and you’re unlikely to get everything you ask for?

For something that’s meant to be as universally accessible as the Olympic Games, the experience of applying in hope, for what are expensive tickets, must feel a bit like a game of risk.  It was hard to get excited by making a speculative punt on getting tickets when it comes with such a big financial penalty if it doesn’t work out well.

That will all change if I get tickets, in particular for the BMX finals. Then again, my heart will be racing from the discovery of how much is going to come out of my account when the tickets are allocated. I’m not sure I will be glad if I get everything I’ve asked for, even if it does mean I’d get to see most of the big moments in the velodrome.

There are free events and the road cycling events could be the best tickets of the games if you know where to go for a good view. I’ll be writing about that on the Chasing Wheels cycling blog soon.