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Tips for selling event tickets online

You’re hosting an event and you want to sell tickets online. What are your options?

Unwound Messy Roll of Red Tickets Piled Up illustrating the Selling Ticketed Events Online blog post

For most organizations, selling tickets online is no longer optional. Customers expect it. People simply don’t buy tickets the way they used to. In fact, they don’t buy a lot of products the way the used to. If you have seats to fill and you don’t have a system in place to sell tickets online, you will lose sales.

But how do you get started?

There are two primary options for selling event tickets on your website. You can use a cloud-based hosted system or a self-hosted system.

A system for selling tickets online should allow you to:

  • automate tasks such as selling tickets and registering attendees
  • set up unlimited events
  • create different ticket types
  • offer discounts
  • manage ticket prices by individual seats or sections
  • track attendance
  • remind customers of an upcoming event

The hosted solution

There are hundreds of third-party event ticketing systems available. BrownPaperTickets, EventBrite, and Acceptiva are three popular options. A hosted event ticketing system’s primary benefit is its simplicity. It is relatively straightforward to get started.

There are five main drawbacks to a hosted system

  1. Limited customization. In order to make a system that is easy for everyone to use, it is necessary to restrict what is possible. Therefore, with a hosted ticketing system, you can only do what is built into the system.
  2. The user is taken off-site. When your site visitor clicks on the Buy Tickets link, they are taken to a third-party website. Some users are confused by this and may not continue with their purchase, wondering if their information is really secure.
  3. Bloated system: A hosted system may be confusing because it is trying to serve a wide range of needs. Rather than only presenting you with the options you need, a multi-purpose system will give you dozens of options that are not applicable. This extra baggage can increase the time it takes you to set up the ticketed event, as well as slow down the user’s ticketing process.
  4. Less Integrated. Events appear as stand-alone, rather than integrated with the rest of your site. While most hosted systems allow some customization to make the ticketing landing page look similar to your website, it will never be a perfect match.
  5. Slower payment. Your organization is not paid immediately. With most hosted systems, there is lag-time between when the customer pays and when you receive the money.
  6. Higher fees. Hosted systems charge transaction fees that can be on par with those already being charged by the payment processor. This can more than double the per-transaction costs.

The self-hosted solution

Unlike other ticketing solutions, a self-hosted system does not rely on a third-party. While the upfront cost may be higher, the ongoing costs can be lower. This is because you aren’t sending a cut to a third party.

A self-hosted system also allows you to process transactions right on your site. In addition, payments are deposited in your bank account within a couple of days.

Finally, a self-hosted system allows customers to create an account and save their payment details. This will make it easier for them to make a purchase next time, because they will not have to fill out every field again.

There is not one definitive “best option” for selling ticketed events online

Hopefully our summary of the pros and cons of hosted vs self-hosted ticketing platforms gives you a better understanding of the basics of selling tickets online.

If you have further questions about which system makes the most sense for online tickets sales for your organization, please call us at 518.392.0846 or email [email protected]. To learn more about our services, please visit our Website Development Services page.

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