What Are Experiences Worth?

NCAA tournament experience costs
Nothing quite like it!

March is a fun time to be from Kentucky. For 10 months of the year, we don’t have tons of things to be proud of. Then spring rolls around, and we have the NCAA tournament and the Kentucky Derby. Too bad it’s all over within a a few months, but those are a couple of pretty big events that people pay tons of money to attend. I’ve also seen fans pony up a mint to see their favorite band or sports team in action. I’ve often said that I’d rather spend money on experiences instead of things, but what are experiences worth?

A Whole Industry Built On Luxury and Convenience

When I was younger, there were no companies reselling tickets online. If you weren’t able to buy a ticket by standing in line before they sold out, you had to make a shady deal in cash, on a corner, wondering if you’d make it back to the car without getting mugged. Not that I’ve had personal experience or anything……

Today, companies like Stubhub generate upwards of $700 million in revenue per year. What that means to consumers is that you can buy a ticket in any section to just about any event IF you have the money to pay for it.

Outside of single performance events, people can also pay for luxury excursions to places that used to only be accessible for those willing to wait and work. Getting a rafting permit on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon can take years. For the right amount of money you can take a “luxury” trip with a guide service.

We have some friends who used to work for such an outfit. Basically, the client has to show up and someone else cooks, pitches a tent, and makes sure you don’t kill yourself. Yes, it’s still camping, buy you can pay for the convenience of not having to fend for yourself.

For a few hundred dollars, you can also do things like have someone guide you to the elevator in the Eiffel Tower instead of standing in line. Enough money insures that you never have to sweat, push, stand, or use effort that mere mortals have to exert to see popular sites or events.

Here are some crazy expensive experiences just waiting for the right buyer:

  • 2015 Lower Level Final Four Tickets: $10,851
  • U2 Lower Level, May 15 in Vancouver: $776
  • No Wait Entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica: $105
  • 10 Day Lower Grand Canyon Rafting Trip: $3075
  • 2015 Kentucky Derby Upper Clubhouse: $4427

You missed this one, but the average price for tickets to this year’s Super Bowl were $5188 each.

Granted you could probably a better deal if you planned early enough, but there are tons of people paying these prices, often for a few hours or entertainment. What if your team gets beaten to a pulp or Bono crashes his bike and can’t sing? Is it worth it to pay big bucks for a one time event?

It Depends

I would love, love, love to see the Kentucky Wildcats play in the final four. I’ve actually put my name in the lottery for tickets, which are face value and not subject to scalper upselling . You have to apply a year in advance without knowing what teams will be playing. I figure if my team gets in, I’ll find a way to go. If not, I’ll sell my tickets. Lord knows, there would be great rate of return!

It’s been several years back, but we’ve paid around $300 for concert tickets. I don’t know if there is anyone out currently that I’d pay that much to see but maybe if the right show came along.

I would not pay thousands of dollars to see anyone or anything. For $10,000, I could take a trip around the world or pay for a semester at a state college for my daughter. I could buy lots of stocks. Those things would be worth more to me right now than a sporting event, concert, or even rafting the Grand Canyon.

However, if it was your lifelong dream to see your team in a championship game or your favorite band play one last show, who am I to judge? I would hope people paying those kinds of prices have enough money to spend on a few wants while still saving enough to fund their needs. If people are cashing in their 401(k)’s to go see Mick Jagger before he needs a hip replacement, then we’re all in trouble!

What would be your dream experience? Is it worth thousands of dollars?


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    1. I saw the Elvis Cirque du Soleil show once. It had so many things going on, it was almost too much to watch.

  1. My dream experience would either be a trip around Europe or an up-close performance from Paul McCartney. My wife and I talk about which is more “worthwhile”, an experience you’ll remember for a very long time or something around the house that you’ll see/use every day. Both are important I think, but sometimes there’s just no replacement for an engaging experience that makes a lifelong memory.

  2. March Madness has been crazy this year, but I think once all the smoke clears Kentucky will be on top. Going out on a limb there I know.

    One thing I would spend money on to experience is going to the nba finals if the Knicks make it. I know tickets to MSG are sky high, but that would be worth it. Now there’s the little issue of them actually MAKING the Finals.

    1. I would rather see the NCAA finals, but I be the NBA would be fun too. I’m sure the atmosphere is really something to experience.

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