6 things to consider when searching for a platform to sell tickets online?
Whether you’re about to spend a year planning a mammoth event, you’re having a spontaneous party or you’re a ticketing manager at a major venue – this article will take you through all the key elements you should consider before signing up to a ticketing platform.
It can be a minefield out there, with seemingly endless platforms offering ticketing solutions, all with a slightly different angle or pricing structure. The instant reaction with this information overload is often to just shortcut your search and go with the big brand names, such as Eventbrite or Universe (owned by Ticketmaster), they must be big for a reason right? Well maybe, but finding the right alternative may not only save you thousands 💰💰💰, but you might end up with better customer service or a particular feature that will make your life that bit easier!
Keep on reading to see our summary of the 6 major things to consider… your job is to then decide which of the below is most important for you and your event!
Let’s not kid ourselves, for most event organisers this is the #1 consideration. Make the wrong move, tie yourself into an expensive platform, and you could end up spending 3-4 times more than you need to. Not great if you’re running a fundraiser, and maybe worse if your boss finds out you could be saving all that cash!
With pricing it’s key to understand the breakdown of what you pay for. All ticketing fees are made up of 2 costs:
- The fee to the ticketing platform itself – this is the fee you pay to use the ticketing software, publish your box office and get customer support.
- Payment processing fee – this is the fee that Paypal, Stripe etc charge to process the transaction and is usually a mixture of a fixed fee + a % fee. It’s charged per transaction and not per ticket, which can make it complicated to calculate the final cost.
Some platforms run their own payment processors (Eventbrite for example) and then bundle in both fees into one price – watch out for this though as it makes the pricing less transparent. Also, these built-in payment processors often don’t payout until after the event which can be bad news for cash flow! Stripe and Paypal will give you access to the ticket fee almost immediately after the customer has checked out.
Since most ticketing platform pass the payment processing fee on without adding a mark-up (keep an eye out for those that try adding a cheeky mark-up!), the main thing you need to focus on is the platform fee. Here you should consider if you prefer to pay….
- a flat fee per ticket (e.g. Ticket Tailor £0.50, $0.65, €0.60) – this keeps things simple and allows you to budget easily. Particularly good value if you have higher ticket prices that are not affected by % pricing.
- A percentage per ticket (e.g. Ti.to 3% per ticket) – this is potentially the best option if you have a very low ticket price.
- A flat fee plus percentage (e.g. Eventbrite US 3.5% + $1.59) – no obvious benefit here for the event organiser.
- A monthly fee – (e.g. Ticket Tailor $99 month for 250 tickets) if you have a regular flow of sales throughout the year, then these packages can be great value
See our specific post on pricing and payouts here.
Best options based on price: Ticket Tailor, Ti.to, Eventix
Now this isn’t necessarily the 2nd thing you’d usually consider, but here at The Event Broker we think it’s a crucial part of the selection process. What could be more of a rubber stamp then hundreds of thousands of people leaving positive reviews?
There are some great sites out there that have hundreds of detailed reviews, like Capterra, GetApp or even the old faithful, Google.
So what do we suggest you take into account with reviews:
- The quantity – the amount of reviews will give you an idea of how long the platform has been around for and if you can trust it. It also means you have a good sample size of users. Three 5 stars reviews is probably not as good as three hundred and an average of 4.5 stars!
- The actual ratings – pretty obvious, but we had to say it. Read the 5 stars of course, but it’s always interesting sorting by the worst and seeing what is letting their users down.
- The detail – give extra weight to long and detailed reviews over ones with no feedback or one word summaries
- The writer – who’s actually writing the review. Sometimes ticket buyers leave reviews, which although being interesting in some instances, is likely to have less to do with the platform itself
Best options based on reviews: Eventbrite, Ticket Tailor, Eventix
We could go on forever about every feature that is useful when selling tickets online but it probably still wouldn’t help you (maybe for another time). What’s important here is knowing what is crucial to run your event smoothly and then checking they offer it. So whether you run multiple events a week and want to be able to duplicate events, you need seating for a theatre or you want customers to have Apple Pay functionality – the key is to be clear on what you need and methodically check against your shortlist of platforms.
#4 Customer support
This can be a tricky one to understand prior to using a platform – but take it from us, this will be a crucial factor as to whether you love or loathe your ticketing provider. There will always be one button, piece of functionality or billing questions you have – the difference between waiting 2 minutes or 2 hours will feel like a lifetime.
Here’s our tips for assessing customer support before you sign up:
- Test the chat bot! Most sites now have a chat bot on their home page which follow you around asking if you need anything. Even if you don’t have a question – why don’t you give it a try and see how long until a human responds (automated messages don’t count!)
- Get stuck into the detail of reviews – use the web browsers “find” functionality on a review site to search for “customer support” and see what people are saying
- Timezone coverage – try and find out which time zones their customer support teams are in and see if it overlaps with yours. If you’re running an event in Guam they may not have a local agent, but they may have your timezone covered by a friendly support person in the Philippines
People get very excited about listing their events on discovery platforms next to Ed Sheeran, their favourite music festival or trendy food markets, but it’s best to take a step back and assess if this will benefit your event… here’s what you need to consider:
- Who are your customers? do most of your sales come from a ready made email list, a facebook group, advertising or just word of mouth? If so, paying a premium to be on a discovery platform is unlikely to help sales
- What is your market? The major discovery platforms will have 1000’s of events added every day – so adding your event and hoping to appear on the main “What’s on in New York” page is unlikely unless you already have lots of traction. Most of your sales will come directly through the audience you already have.
- Do you want to share your customers? Discovery platforms work as a marketplace. This can be great as new customers may discover your event. However, the flip side is that you send your customers to the discovery page to buy tickets to your BIG FOOD MARKET event, only for them to discover THE EXTRA BIG FOOD MARKET is happening down the road for a $1 less. Now if you’re confident in your events USP then this may not be an issue, but it’s something to consider.
- Are you price sensitive? The platforms with large discovery platforms like Eventbrite, Universe and Billetto don’t give you access to this for free. Yes, you won’t see the extra charge, but the discovery element of their platform means you’re likely to pay higher prices.
If you decide not to go for a discovery platform then it’s worth seeing what other marketing tools the platforms offer. Do they have Facebook integrations? URL tracking? Google Analytics or MailChimp integrations? All these things can ensure you can get bang for your marketing buck!
Best options based on discovery platforms: Eventbrite, Universe, Billetto
See our specific blog post on discovery platforms here.
Finally, a bit of a left field consideration, but something we see more and more event organisers caring about and something more and more ticketing platforms are talking about: Values!
Many events are run by charities, are fundraisers, are trying to be environmentally friendly, or are supporting independent businesses – so the logic goes – you want to find a ticketing platform with a similar outlook on the world.
Whilst this is a fairly new trend, here are a few things you may want to consider:
- Listed on the stock market or independent: The likes of Eventbrite and Universe (which is owned by TicketMaster, which is itself owned by Live Nation) are mammoths of the ticketing world and are now both listed on the NYSE. This might not fit with the vibe of your independent music night.
- Environmental credentials: the trend for responsible business is on the rise – companies like Brown Paper Tickets have been banging this drum from the very start
- Support of charity and good causes: a number of ticketing platforms offer generous discounts to charities, some like Ticket Tailor go further and annually give a portion of their revenue to good causes
So while this may not apply to everyone we know that some of you out there will see this as an important piece of the puzzle.
Now it’s down to you…
We hope this article and The Event Broker tool is a helpful way in you finding the best alternative ticketing platform. It’s a complicated decision and a big one for many event organisers so take the time you need to find the best one for your event!