25 top tools (and tricks) for boosting online ticket sales for events
Never again will your event-planning life depend on lots of spreadsheets, scattered documents and emails, many single-purpose apps and printed invitations to keep ticket sales thrumming along and your events running smoothly. Now online event ticketing software can handle all of these tasks more efficiently and effectively.
But before we jump ahead and (blindly) invest all our faith in technology, for all the benefits tech brings to online ticket sales for events, there are quite a few things to look out for (and be careful of) when considering an online event ticketing system. If you want some best practices for how to sell tickets for an event, these helpful tips will give you a great starting point.
1. Mobile-friendly webpage
You no longer need technical knowledge to build an event website, and such sites and webpages are often the best way to sell tickets online. That’s because most tickets for most kinds of events - including concerts, conferences, comedy shows, festivals, fairs, meetings, sporting events, seminars, tours and performances - are now purchased online.
With that said, you should also know that most people buy those online tickets via a mobile device or tablet, so your event ticketing webpage should be mobile friendly.
2. Reputable payment processor
If you are going to sell event tickets online, you will require the services of a good credit card payment processor. There are many reputable processors out there, including WePay, Stripe, Square, PayPal, Braintree and Authorize.net.
However, whatever processor you use (or whatever your event ticketing software provides) make sure they are PCI compliant, have adequate reporting and allow you to customize the transaction snippet that appears on your attendees credit card statements (this can help minimize chargebacks).
3. Quick payouts
Most of us can’t afford to wait until our event is over to start receiving revenues for tickets, so make sure you event ticketing platform works with a credit card processor that provides expedited payouts or releases funds regularly (at least once a week or several days after a transaction runs is an appropriate period of time).
4. Email communications and invitations
Reaching out to your audience ahead of an event is critical in driving ticket sales, as is communicating with registered attendees regarding event updates and to ensure they show up.
Email is the assumed method of communication between event organizers and attendees, so you should make sure you use a marketing email provider that offers maximum flexibility/customization and integrates with your event ticketing software platform. Also, make sure your ticketing platform enables you to send out ticket order confirmations for new sign-ups.
5. Actionable intelligence
Often you need to adjust things on-the-fly when planning events, and having accurate, useful event data is essential in making the best decisions. Downloadable, customizable reports and detailed dashboards can give you instant insights into your ticket sales, revenues, attendee details and more so you can monitor recent performance and make appropriate adjustments.
6. Onsite ticket sales
If you operate a box office or registration desk at your events, your online ticketing service will need an offline ticket sales option for walk-up attendees. This will likely be some sort of ticket point-of-sale portal or feature that lets you do card-in-hand or cash/check transactions.
7. Timely customer support
If your event is tomorrow and you’re having issues with the event check-in app provided by your online ticket sales system, you need to speak with someone sooner rather than later. Timely customer support is therefore paramount, and many providers offer daily email, phone and live chat support.
8. Social sharing integrations
One of the best tactics for accelerating online ticket sales for events is making it easy for your attendees and ardent fans to share your event via social media. Look for solutions that integrate social sharing widgets and buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more into their event websites, online registration forms and emails.
9. Flexible ticketing setup
There are no established standards for how event ticketing software services let you set up tickets ... some solutions offer basic online event sign up forms while others provide extensive customization options. So it really depends on how detailed you want to get with your ticket offerings and pricing strategies. With that said, here are some basic ticket setup options you will find in many systems:
- Free tickets and paid/for-fee tickets
- Payment options - credit card, check, cash
- Pricing schedules (early-bird vs. regular vs. last-minute pricing)
- Group tickets
- Discount codes
- Nested or add-on tickets/items (for VIP packages, sub-events, merchandise, etc.)
- Quantity limits (maximums/minimums)
- Ticket templates or duplication
10. Embeddable ticket forms/widgets
Your preferred software may offer a ticketing form in the event webpage they provide to you, but do they let you embed that same ticketing form in other sites? Some event organizers prefer to build their own event websites or use platforms like Wordpress, Wix or Squarespace because of the added flexibility and stand-alone nature of those sites. If this is the case for you, your platform should offer embeddable ticketing widgets or forms so you can place that form into other webpages and your attendees can easily register from those pages (vs. having to navigate to another site).
11. Registration questionnaires
Depending on the type of event and what you are offering, you may need to collect more information from your attendees (like their preferred tracks or sessions, meal choices, travel plans, t-shirt sizes, etc.). Custom registration questionnaires and forms make it easy to collect this information by building multiple choice or form-field questions that ticket buyers can fill out when they are signing up.
12. Discount and promo codes
Another great way to jump start online ticket sales for events is to offer special audiences (like past attendees, members, patrons, marketing lists, etc.) a discount or special promotion. This can be accomplished with a discount code builder that lets you customize the code, add expiration dates, maximum usage counts and discount amount (percentage or dollar amount).
13. Privacy codes
Another way to offer red-carpet options to select audiences is to create a special ticket for them (with special pricing, privileges, merchandise, etc.) and then password-protect that ticket so only people with the code can access it. These are called ticket privacy codes, and they can make it easy for you deliver an enhanced experience to VIP guests.
14. Mobile-friendly check-in tool
Any decent event ticketing software system should help you manage the entire event lifecycle, which includes when you meet guests at the door and process them for entry. Event check-in apps make this possible, but make sure your provider’s app can be used on mobile devices, can be used on multiple devices simultaneously at multiple entry points, and has payment processing features for walk-up attendees.
15. Scannable tickets
A big timesaver in checking ticketed attendees in at the door is to be able to scan their printed or electronic tickets (rather than looking up their name). Another big timesaver is being able for your team and event staff to use their own mobile devices to scan tickets. If you anticipate a surge of attendees arriving during a compressed time period, you should consider software that offers tickets equipped with QR codes and that provides the ability to scan those codes easily with handheld devices.
16. Integrations with other applications
We live in an age where it is common for most professionals to use 5, 10, 25 or even 50 different software applications. With all this data spread out over so many applications, it’s vital that the programs and apps you use integrate with each other so you aren’t double-entering data all the time into different programs. Software systems that integrate with platforms like Zapier simplify this because you can manage all your integrations through one central platform.
17. Reserved and assigned seating
Seated concerts and gala banquets are two examples of events that often have assigned or reserved seating. If this is a need for the types of events you organize, then your event ticketing software system needs to offer an event floor plan builder plus the ability to create an assigned seating chart for attendees.
18. Attendee tracking and insights
We talked about the importance of actionable reports earlier, and the same can be said for having immediate access to attendee data when managing online ticket sales for events. An attendee CRM tool with searchable fields and customizable downloads can make it easy to manage details for registered attendees and view trends in what people are purchasing and who is signing up.
18. Branded marketing
Shaping the brand identity of your events is vital in the success of present and future events, so any ticket selling software should let you customize your event ticket websites, event registration forms, email headers/footers and downloadable or electronic tickets with your event’s logo, colors and other imagery.
19. Effortless donation collection
If you run charitable events or non-profit fundraisers, you know that your biggest fans may not be able to attend all your events due to prior obligations ... but they still want to support your cause. Being able to easily collect online donations from both ticket buyers and non-buyers can boost your overall event revenue and make those people not attending still feel like they have contributed. Fundraising tools for managing silent auctions and crowdfunding are an added bonus.
NOTE: Anyone in charge of online ticket sales for nonprofits should make sure to check if your event ticketing software offers a nonprofit discount on ticketing fees as well as on any other associated subscription or startup costs.
20. Refunding and ticket transfers
Some event organizers want to offer their attendees maximum flexibility regarding what they can do with their tickets post-purchase. To simplify this for both you and your attendees, your event ticketing software should offer easy-to-use tools for processing ticket refunds and posting refund policies. Features for enabling attendees to transfer or resell tickets can also come in useful.
21. Easy name badging
Not all events require name badges, but for those that do, you need an easier way to prepare and print name badges other than copy-and-pasting info into a Word document, then formatting it, then printing it out. Ideally, an event ticketing software tool should offer either on-demand name badge printing or offer pre-populated documents that you can download and print out onto Avery name badge stock.
22. Directory listings
Regular and frequent event promotion is THE major factor in sustaining online ticket sales, and adding your event to the handful of reputable event directories, event listing websites and publication engines is always a good idea. These include:
- Facebook Events
- Eventbrite Local Directories
23. Sponsor and exhibitor management
Two additional (and potentially profitable) revenue streams for events are sponsors and exhibitors, and although you may not expect an event ticketing software application to include tools for managing these, quite a few do. Useful tools include lead management, proposals/quoting, online contracts and invoicing/billing.
24. Feedback surveys
The day your next event ends is the day you begin preparing for the event after that. And there’s nothing more useful for planning your next gig than learning what your attendees liked and didn’t like about your most recent event. By sending out electronic surveys and collecting their feedback, you will learn things that most attendees would not tell you to your face. Just make sure the form or survey tool you employ is easy-to-use for your attendees and compiles responses so you can view them both individually and collectively.
25. Demos or trials
Want to know the #1 way to determine the best event ticketing software for your events? Try it out for yourself. Check if the top contenders on your list offer free trials or guided demos. Yes, you may have to speak with a sales rep and share with them details about how you currently manage online tickets sales for events, but it’s their job to provide you with the information you need to make the best decision for your organization. And it’s only by trying out different solutions and learning about how they function that you can arrive at that "ah-ha" moment of when you encounter the tool that will elevate your event ticket sales to another level.