The Value Score

What’s the problem?

As Nima mentions in the Razorgator GO launch post, one of the two primary tenants for GO is helping a user  find the best value.  When we sat down and brainstormed about what we’d do in ticketing if we were starting from scratch, we felt that helping people find the best seats for their money was at the top of our lists.  When I go see an event, I’m extremely concerned about where I’m going to sit, but as Nima points out, my budget usually wins the war of what tickets I buy.

As we asked around, most people felt the same way.  But as we quickly learned, everybody faced the same problem:  it was hard to find those seats.  We evaluated ourselves and our competitors and nobody helped users find good deals.  As far as we could tell, unless you gave our fabulous phone sales team a call (average tenure of six years) , there was no easy way to find the best value for your money.

How do we solve it?

So the question then became, how can we help users find the best value?  We put a lot of thought into this and came up with a two part answer: the Value Score and the Value Graph.

The idea of the Value Score is straightforward:  provide a score which conveys how good of a value a given ticket listing is.  The simple explanation of the Value Score is it goes from 0 to 100 with 100 being an amazing value.  It’s important to realize that a great value does not mean a cheap ticket.  More on that below.

Coming up with the Value Score was a bit more difficult.  We started taking a look at the tremendous amount of data we’d collected over the years:  tens of millions of ticket listings (Nima was short quite a bit :)) across almost a million different events.  A few equations  on a white board (ok, more than a few) and many billions of calculations later, we had the foundation of our Value Score.

But having the Value Score wasn’t enough.  We than began to focus on how to present the Value Score in a way that a user could easily act on it, this resulted in the Value Graph.  The Value Graph was designed to show to key pieces of information to the user: how a listings price compares to its value.

How do I use it?

The top band of the graph shows all the tickets that we consider a great value.  From left to right, the price of tickets are increasing.  Notice how there are both lower and higher priced tickets that are considered great values.   Likewise, there are both lower and higher priced tickets that are considered to be only an OK value. 

Doesn’t make sense?  Well let’s imagine that ticket next to Jack which normally goes for $30,000 might be priced at only $10,000 for a specific game.  We may identify that listing as a great value, but it doesn’t mean it’s cheap!  On the other side of the spectrum, a $5 nose-bleed seat to a ball game may not be such a great value if sitting behind home plate doesn’t cost that much more.  The graph shows the scores for all of the listings and allows the user to easily determine what tickets best fit their criteria.  Maybe the best tickets for your money aren’t right at the top of your budget, maybe you can save some money and still get great (or even better!) seats.  That’s exactly what the Value Graph is trying to help you find.

Hint: one way to get even more out of the Value Graph is to use the filters above it.  I find the quantity and cost filters to be the most useful and make the Value Graph that much more powerful and easy to use. 

What comes next?

In general, expect the Value Score to be in a state of constant refinement.  We do have a couple of specific ideas up our sleeve in the short term:

One of the things at the top of our list is refining the scoring for General Admission & Suite tickets.  Currently, the Value Score doesn’t always work well with those two types of tickets since we were focusing on trying to get normal tickets right.  For now, just remember to buy the CHEAPEST General Admission ticket.  And if you’re interested in suites, contact our VIP Department (and send me an invite!).

Another thing on our short list is Value Score across different dates.  Let’s say I want to take my wife to see Wicked sometime.  I’m less concerned with whether it’s this month or next month (although I only want weekends!), I just want to make sure I get the max out of the money I’m willing to spend.  Just as we provide a Value Score/Graph for a given performance today, tomorrow we want to show you that same information across multiple dates.  That way you can easily determine if the best way to spend your money is to see the show next weekend instead of waiting.

Speaking of just seeing weekend shows, this basic concept is an extremely difficult thing to find on other ticketing sites.  With Razorgator GO’s Search Tokens, we’ve made that a breeze, just type “weekends”.  But more on the search in another post…

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