Online Event Ticketing: An Insight

A friend of mine put on a charity fashion show in Leeds a few weeks ago (which I ended up coordinating in the end). At the time, we were both on the same accelerator programme, and I sat next to her in the hub most days. One thing that surprised me was that she still used the age-old system of expecting her guests to pay on the door…

The problem with this, is that there’s no way of tracking your sales.

Imagine putting all that hard work in, only to get there to find that no one has showed up! I suggested that she should try utilising tickets, so she decided to print physical tickets, but the issue with this, is that people have to ring and arrange a meeting to come and collect their tickets, which is a logistical nightmare for both the customer, and the event organiser.

It was then I realised that not everyone has fully warmed up to the idea of using online ticketing…

However, for me online ticketing is a no brainer: track your sales, keep an eye on your analytics to see which referring websites are performing better and converting higher, and capture/store your customer’s email addresses for email communications, and sell back to them in future. Like I said, it’s a no-brainer.

There are many different ways of going about online ticketing. Some companies build their own bespoke ticketing applications, but this only works for major websites that have a huge amount of traffic and a strong brand (such as Vogue, etc). Others (like me) use an out-of-the-box solution like Eventbrite.

I will admit that I am biased when it comes to online ticketing, because Eventbrite have supported me and my businesses in so many ways over the years.

They’ve invited me to speak at conferences. They’ve sponsored my events (which I was really humbled by considering that they’re a Silicon Valley business), and they invited me to become a columnist on their now, award-winning blog. As a customer, I couldn’t really ask for more, and that is why I am so loyal to Eventbrite.

With that in mind, I can’t really advise on the other ticketing platforms out there because I haven’t used them, and there’d be a conflict of interest.

However, the benefits of using Eventbrite, is that they’re the largest online ticketing platform in the world for independent event organisers (Live Nation are big too, but they only work in the entertainment sector with agents, so if you don’t have an agent, they won’t help you).

And because Eventbrite are so large, as soon as you put your event up on their website, you’ll get organic SEO-style traffic immediately, as they promote the events on their website for you, and they spend a lot of money on advertising every year, which is great news for you (it’s free advertising).

Also, their dashboard is extremely comprehensive, and it acts as a CRM and Google Analytics, amongst other features – all in one.

This means you can keep an eye on your sales and finances, build up a handy database, communicate via email, print name badges, process refunds, and much more. And in a world where marketing has gone digital, it makes complete sense to sell tickets in an impulse, ecommerce fashion where your efforts are transferred straight to PayPal.

However, there are limitations with such solutions, and this is why some mainstream brands and events tend to go with bespoke ticketing solutions that gives them more design options and functionality. Going down this route will save on the booking fee which means you can either save your customers money, or charge more.

The catch is, that you won’t have access to the organic traffic pool that comes from websites like Eventbrite, which probably isn’t an issue for huge brands with big databases and a high volume of traffic, but for small organisers (who most likely won’t have the budget for bespoke solutions any way), that traffic can be game changing.

A similar situation lies in WordPress.org versus WordPress.com. One is a blogger network that publishes your content to millions of readers, however the website templates have limited design options, and the other – is fully customisable, but lacks the database and initial traffic which can really benefit small businesses.

So to summarise, it’s a fight out between design qualities and organic traffic. And the bespoke option is more expensive. So what’s more important to you? I can’t make your mind up for you, but I can advise that Eventbrite are the best out-of-the-box online ticketing solution out there, as they support small businesses in so many ways.

Regardless of which option you go for, we’re online ticketing experts, and we know Eventbrite like the back of our hands. If you need any advice, give us a shout.