In the early 1980s, 14-year-old twins Bob and Mike Bernstein went to the ballpark and learned how opportunity knocks when scarcity calls. Their father had financed his youth buying and selling tickets in New York City. Now living in Scottsdale, the Phoenix Suns game seemed the right time to pass on the trade.
“He brought us to the parking lot, gave us change and told us to go and find tickets,” Bob Bernstein said. The boys sold their collection to anxious customers hoping for last minute seats, counted their profits, and thought Bingo. “We started hustling on the streets. We held signs or we’d walk up to people. We’d work just about anything that sold a ticket. At that age, people felt sorry for us and just handed tickets to us.”
During their junior year in France with the University of Arizona, the young men had another flash of vision. “We went to the French Open in Paris and discovered there were a lot of Americans who had no idea how to get tickets,” Bernstein said. “Most of the information was in French, which they didn’t speak. We bought tickets from the vendors and box office and resold them to people in hotels. We quickly discovered there was real opportunity.”
Today that opportunity extends coast-to-coast. Through a supply chain of vendors, Bob Bernstein’s online business
eSeats.com (www.eseats.com) procures tickets to local, national and international events. It handles the sometimes daunting process from start to finish, from the Arizona Diamondbacks to Wimbledon, Justin Bieber to Broadway.
“Suppose, you need tickets for the World Cup in Rio,” Bernstein said. “We’ll get you a quote and information about the delivery. We make the difficult easy, and we do it day-in and day-out, every day.”
Today’s Ticket Industry
Bernstein’s dad might not recognize today’s technology-driven ticketing business where online exchanges let brokers share inventories. “Before the exchanges, most brokers restricted themselves to local events,” Bernstein said. “With the internet and exchanges, you can be in Scottsdale and have clients throughout the country. Probably 95 percent of our business is in markets like Las Vegas and New York where there is a lot of entertainment. But, we also have great sources for local events.”
The way customers buy tickets has also changed with increasing emphasis on mobile devices. Bernstein’s eSeats Tickets application was among the first mobile ticketing apps in the iTunes store. With colorful design and intuitive navigation, customers easily buy tickets from their iPhone, iPad and Android. With the click of one button, they find their area’s local events.
“We focus where we can provide the most value to our customers,” Bernstein said. That means great sources but also first-hand knowledge, which agencies that are not as customer oriented might miss. “We go to the events every year and take the time to understand them. So, if you want to enjoy the Kentucky Derby with catering near the finish line but don’t have the budget for Millionaires Row or the Turf Club, we would advise you to get tickets in the Matt Winn Room. For each major event like the Indy 500 or Super Bowl, we work closely with a handful of vendors to insure a smooth transaction. We know our customers will be taken care of.
“There’s a lot of risk if you’re taking an important client to an event and you got your tickets on eBay,” Bernstein continued. “They could be duplicates or have any number of problems. You’ll get your money back but it will ruin your experience. eSeats gets authentic tickets every time and the process is much easier than dealing with the box office or fan clubs. And, by purchasing tickets through a good broker, customers avoid laying out the money for season tickets. They can identify three or four games where they want excellent seats. Our focus is on taking care of the customers. It’s a lot of fun.”
A Family Affair
That fun includes the whole family with Bernstein’s wife serving as company CPA and brother also involved in the business. Fun also includes going home to three young sons, two of whom attend local Jewish day schools. Bernstein became bar mitzvah at Temple Solel in Scottsdale and is a longstanding member of the Jewish Business Network of Greater Phoenix. Other memberships include the National Association of Ticket Brokers (www.natb.org), which he rigorously advocates and endorses.
“The NATB is the most important association that governs ticket brokers,” Bernstein said. According to their website, their goal is to ensure ethical conduct, consumer protection and industry-wide standards. “The clients I enjoy the most are the ones who benefit the most from working with us,” Bernstein said. “We empower our consumers with information that lets them be a better shopper. People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy. They love how empowering it is to be a buyer.”
Contact eSeats.com online or by phone at 800-660-6031, Monday through Saturday between 8 am and 5 pm Mountain Time. Download the eSeats Tickets App at eSeats.com or visit the iTunes App Store.
Polina Olsen is a freelance writer and author.