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How To Sell Tickets Online

Posted in Spotlights on May 15, 2017

Most organizers want to sell tickets online since it's the preferred option for events of all shapes and sizes. There are a variety of benefits - first of all, you have a much better idea of how many attendees are going to be at your event. Secondly, you’ll know a lot more about your audience. Third, lines are much quicker when all you have to do is check attendees in, rather than just have them pay and then check in.

I’m going to cover - in detail - all you need to know about not just how to sell online, but how to choose an effective site to use for ticket sales. I’ll discuss questions you should be asking as you (and also your team if you have one) evaluate your options. I’m also going to talk about how to sell more tickets to your audience.

Picking Your Options
The site that you use for selling is a big choice you and your team will have to make. You need to ignore all of the marketing talks on the website and get the bare, essential facts. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to take a hard look at your event and determine exactly what sort of features you will need. For example, are you planning on having meals for your conference attendees? It might be a good idea to have a question set up so that when an attendee buys a ticket, they can tell you if they are vegetarian/vegan or if they have certain allergies. If you’re on a budget, learning more about fee structure might help. If you’re planning on paying for talent or for a venue, learning about payment terms from the site you are using can help. You don’t want to get caught with someone telling you that you owe them money when you’re still waiting for a check! 

I’ve taken a few questions from The Business of Event Planning by Judy Allen. There are a lot more there, and you can buy the book on Amazon.

  1. Quick Checklist
    What are the costs? Are they based off of a subscription model or the number of attendees? 
Most ticketing sites nowadays charge a small percentage fee of each ticket in order to make money. There are some that instead charge a higher upfront cost, but then nothing on the tickets. It’s up to your team to figure out what’s best.
    The first thing you need to really figure out is how much the site is going to charge you per each ticket sale. To save time, enter the fee structure all of the sites you are considering into a spreadsheet.

What Charges Do Credit Card Companies Impose?
No matter what site you’re looking at, you need to figure out what the credit card processing fee is. I say this because every single site that I know of has a credit card charge in addition to the fee. Don’t get blindsided by this.

What Are The Benefits Versus The Cost?
After you’ve figured out the different costs from different companies, you should look at what features that they provide for your event. Some people might just want the cheapest option, but a lot of times you get what you pay for. Most websites should have a Features page, so you can take out your committee’s checklist and start marking off everything that the company has or doesn’t have.

How Are Funds Collected And Deposited?
This is going to be very important, especially if you’re going to be renting a venue, hiring sales staff, ordering catering, or just about anything else is going to be an expense you can’t pay for out of pocket. A lot of event sites will hold on to your revenue until after your event ends. You might need to have a contract in which unpaid parties are aware of this circumstance. There are some sites out there that do offer revenue payouts before the event ends, which could be a big help for you.

Have They Ever Sold More Tickets Than Are Available?
When you’re evaluating your solutions, I recommend doing some research on review sites to learn if other event organizers have had trouble with the site. This can help in a lot of ways, but one thing you should keep on the lookout for is if there have ever been oversold tickets. The last thing you want is for people to spend their money only to arrive and find out that they can’t enter. It will do a lot of damage to your reputation. It could even break the law, especially for indoor venues, as there is a fire code limiting the number of people inside.

Are There Customized Reports?
We come to another huge benefit of getting online tickets sold to attendees rather than at the door. Most sites offer some sort of demographic and purchase tracking, so you’ll get a better look at who is actually buying tickets. This is beneficial not just for future years to optimize, but also for referencing your marketing efforts.

2. Selling The Most Tickets
So you’ve chosen the right ticketing solution for you - congrats! You’ve got one of the toughest parts of your journey out of the way. Now for the true test: actually getting sales. Here are three questions you’ll want on your sales checklist so that you can maximize your revenue.

Do You Know Your Audience?
Sun Tzu once said that you need to know your enemy. Well, your audience isn’t your enemy, but if you don’t know who they are, you’re going to have problems. That being said, the audience has the potential to be your enemy if you don’t think about them correctly. For example, if you have a lot of VIP and ticket tiers but your audience is low-income, you’re going to have a lot of unsold tickets. On the flip side, if you know you’re going for a high-income audience, it might make sense to have backstage tours and meet-and-greets.

The better you structure your ticket strategy with early birds, VIPs, and other options, the more money you’re going to capture.

Are You Selling On Multiple Places?
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, a lot of organizers think that just by creating an event page, you’re all set. This couldn’t be more false. You need to also create an event page on Facebook, as well as having an event website created with event registration software. By using all three resources, you boost your chance of being seen in search engines as well as of potential attendees coming across your pages. There’s no excuse not to!

Are You Sending Out Invites and Reminders?
There’s an old saying in advertising. They say that someone needs to see or hear about a product at a minimum of 7 times before purchasing. Think back on your own behavior - I bet you can remember times you were about to purchase something but then you were distracted and forgot about it. This is exactly where sending out reminders helps. You can capture a portion of potential attendees that are interested in your product but maybe had something come up. There’s no better way to take advantage of that then through email reminders. We call this remarketing, and it’s an extremely cost-effective way to increase your profit.

Conclusion
There’s a lot to consider when you’re getting ready to learn how to sell tickets online to your event. You need to think about how you’re going to get paid, what your provider offers you, the payment terms, and oversold capacity. Once you’re set up, you need to think about your avenues of sales, your target audience, and your remarketing capabilities. Thanks for reading, and if you have any other tips that worked out well for you, please send them over and we can update this post.

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