If you spend a lot of time managing event bookings via phone and email instead of organising other areas of your events, then using an online ticketing service might be just want you need.
Ticketing websites have never been more user-friendly and they can help your group save time, money, and sell more tickets. The initial setup can be slightly time-consuming but once you are up and running, the positives far outweigh the negatives…
1. It’s convenient for your audience – with more and more business taking place online customers want (and even expect) the flexibility of being able to book 24 hours a day using the phone in their pocket.
2. Leave customers with a positive impression of your group - visiting a webpage branded with your group’s logo followed by a quick and hassle-free purchase, and a branded confirmation email, will let your audience know what a professional and well-run outfit you are. This can only increase the likelihood of them making another booking in the future.
3. Increase your reach and boost your ticket sales:
- The easier it is to do something the more likely someone will do it – online ticketing makes is quick and simple
- Online ticket sites will promote your event for you. It will be listed on their site and many also offer social media integration too, allowing your customer to tell the world they are going to your event.
- Take advantage of ‘passing trade’. People visiting your area for work, visiting family, a holiday, etc. are more likely to find out about your concert if it can be found by searching online, and are more likely to book if it can be done online.
4. Less work for the committee - this is a big advantage for leisure time music groups. Less queries to respond to and process, no tickets to design or print. You can manage and monitor booking numbers at any point and all your attendees are in one place making reminder emails and guest lists easier to manage in the run up to the event.
5. Efficient financial processes – the money from your event will be transferred automatically to your designated bank account (when this is done varies from website to website). This saves your committee members storing cheques and cash, and trips to the bank.
6. Bums on seats (and money in the bank) - someone who has booked a ticket in advance might be more committed to the event (more likely to battle the British weather, for example) than someone planning to pay on the door. Meaning you have more people to perform to (and if an advance booker doesn’t turn up they have still paid)
7. Help with event planning - many online ticketing websites will give you access to analytics, e.g. total amount of income for each event, number of tickets sold, at what price, etc. This information will come in handy when booking future concerts.
8. Improve the event – more pre-sold tickets means shorter queues and less money changing hands on the night - making it less work for you and a better experience for the audience
9. Booking fees won’t affect bookings - booking fees can mean your audience pays a little bit more, they are fairly well accepted as standard now and as long as not extortionate, don’t tend to put people off. If you are worried, most ticketing websites will give you the option to absorb the fee within the ticket price.
10. No need to lose the personal touch:
- When booking online it’s still nice to know you can contact an actual person, ideally someone organising the event. You can include your contact details in the online event details so you don’t have to lose that personal touch.
- Not everyone has access to the internet or likes booking online of course. If you use online ticketing alongside a traditional box office you expand your market but avoid marginalising those who prefer a human transaction (you can also manually add non-online bookings to your online event so you can manage your attendees in one place)
Some things to consider
As you can see, selling tickets online can be a real benefit for your group. However, there are more ticketing websites out there than ever before – so picking the right one for you can be tricky. Four of the main sites available are listed below, although many more are available.
- Ticket Source - Good for small to medium-sized groups. Making Music members get a discount on booking fees – find out more
- Try Booking - Fairly new with some good features - aimed specifically at community groups and not for profits
- We Got Tickets - Focus on simplicity – Making Music receives a 10% donation of the overall booking fee when our members use We Got Tickets – which we put towards developing services for members - find out more.
- Eventbrite - Feature-heavy, good for large scale events. Offer three different pricing options with more features at each level.
Many of the features are standard across all sites, but there are differences too. We have a table available that shows some of the key differences. Most sites are free to register so it is worth signing up and having a play around to see what you like. It is also worth asking yourself why you are using online ticketing. If it is to simply save time then the most user friendly might be the best for you. If you want to boost sales then look at branding, promotions and social media. In any case some the key things to consider are:
- Price – most are free to sign up and then either take a percentage of the ticket price or fixed amount per ticket. Obviously this will affect how much your tickets are and how much money you make. Most offer the chance to either display the cost to the customer as ticket price +booking fee/percentage or as a single price with fees included. Also consider how quickly the money reaches you as this can affect your cash flow.
Usability – two groups of people will be using the site – you as an administrator and your customers:
o You – online ticket should help save you time – and most sites are fairly easy to use. There are some differences but it probably comes down to personal preference. One thing to consider is if the site allows you to build and copy event templates.
o Customer – a key part of online ticketing is to make it easy for people to book – so a simple process is vital. Have a play around with some sites and try booking some tickets to see what you like. Whichever one you end up going with it’s a good idea to know the booking process well in case anyone asks you about it.
Managing your event – most sites offer lots of features for setting up events and it can be a little overwhelming. Before you decide on a site its worth thinking about the types of events you run to make sure the site can accommodate them. For example:
o Do you have lots of different ticket types and prices – e.g. early bird, Friends discount, concession prices, group booking discount, restricted view tickets etc.
o Do you want a seating plan with reserved seating/seat numbers?
o Do you have a lot of walk in trade that means you want to be able reserve/hold tickets?
- Selling extras – most sites allow you to include a donation option at the point of booking - some offer options to sell programmes and merchandise at the point of ticket sale too.
- Data – most sites give you the chance to collect and access data about your customer and event (ticket sales, sales channel, number of attendees, page views, etc.) which can be incredibly useful. Some sites offer more data and are easier to use than others – so if analytical data is your thing it's worth investigating what’s available in more detail.
- Branding – all sites offer you the chance to include your own branding – but exactly how much and where does vary. It’s worth think about how important this is to you – if you list a site on your website then link away to the booking site how important is it that it still looks and feels like your site rather than theirs? Can you include multiple images and branding or just a logo? Does branding extend to other areas such as tickets?
- Promotion – all sites offer some help with promotion – at the very least your event is listed on their site – and most offer some level of social media integration to help you and your customers promote the event. But exactly what and how does vary. If you are looking for a ticket site to help boost your sales then you should spend some time looking into this.
We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.