For many outdoor resorts, special events are a key to customer satisfaction and an uptick in reservations. In many instances, events are low key and may not even involve fees for participation. In other instances, fees may need to be established in order to cover costs. The latter might include food events such as a pig roast or chicken barbecue, or a concert featuring a local performer. Ticket sales for events such as these may not even involve actual “tickets”, but might simply require a sign-up sheet in your office with a cut-off date in instances where a head count is important.
At other times, park owners might be thinking bigger, particularly if a park offers the available open space and local zoning regulations allow. Rather than simply appealing to your existing clientele, events might present an opportunity to bring in participants from the broader public, quite possibly from beyond the local area. These events might also introduce a new round of people to your business, folks who might like what they experience and subsequently become recurring guests. In those instances, it is obvious that selling tickets in your office would be an inadequate means of getting things done.
Regular readers of my column will know that I advocate against handling and processing fees being passed along to customers. That said, whether absorbing those fees or passing them along, when you need an online ticketing solution for a specific upcoming event, you will want to find an effective option that will minimize the fees involved. On the topic of fees, keep in mind that there are always two sets of fees involved with online ticket sales: the ticket processing fee itself and the online credit card processing fees. In general, if you are selling two $50.00 tickets to a customer, expect your total fees to range from $4.50 to $6.00 for that $100.00 transaction (or over $10.00 in the last example shown below).
One of the big advantages of online ticketing is what is referred to as “attendance management”, where advance payment prevents you from losing money with “no-shows”. In addition, most of the online platforms include a significant volume of features and functionality such as a simple CMS (content management system) interface, free accounts, useful mobile apps, and the ability to start selling tickets almost immediately. Some will integrate with an existing online payment gateway that you might already be using, and others will funnel payments through platforms such as Stripe.
Here are a few options to consider:
Ticketleap: Ticketleap makes things simple. Accounts are free, and the platform provides you with integrated marketing tools that will help you to promote your event and monitor and analyze sales. A mobile app, available for both Android and iOS, streamlines the process of check-in on the day of the event and will even allow you to sell tickets at the gate. Other functions include the ability to use promo codes (such as discounts for your campers or for early ticket sales), the incorporation of event waivers, the ability for customers to purchase tickets for multiple events in one shopping cart transaction (if you offer multiple events during the course of the season), and a post-purchase message that confirms the transaction and can be customized to include a suggestion to share on social media. The fees are 2% + $1.00, plus a 3% credit card processing fee (unless you use your own processor); a flat fee of only 25¢ for any event priced at $5.00 or less; and no fees (other than credit card processing) for onsite sales. One drawback is that ticket revenue is only disbursed to you 4-7 days after the event, which may be a deal-breaker in many instances.
TicketSource: TicketSource is a UK-based company that offers many of the same services and functionality. Its fee is 3.5% + 99¢ per ticket, including all payment card processing costs. If you would like to use your own Stripe account for payment processing, TicketSource’s fee is simply the 99¢ per ticket. There are no charges for in-house booking or for free events. In addition, there are no fees for events that might be cancelled or postponed, with customers fully refunded the purchase price of their tickets. This would be useful in instances where a performer cancels, there ends up being severe weather the day of the event, or you simply cancel the event due to inadequate ticket sales. TicketSource releases funds to your bank account on the Monday after the day of the event (usually showing in your account by Wednesday), or you can collect revenues as your tickets are sold if integrating with your Stripe account.
TicketTailor: Another company based in the UK, TicketTailor has perhaps the easiest integration for ticket sales directly from your website. What makes TicketTailor different is that you buy advance credits to cover the transaction fees, resulting in a fee that could be anywhere from 30¢ to 52¢ per ticket. It accepts payments in a wide range of forms, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, and you receive your payments instantly via either Stripe or PayPal. For credit card processing, the company is specifically partnered with Stripe, where the U.S. fees are 2.9% + 30¢ per ticket, with a total price that is probably one of the best options available, particularly useful if you plan to absorb the fees into your ticket prices.
Yapsody: Based in California, this is yet another option that is noted for its low pricing. Their fees are 1.75% + 59¢ per ticket, with payouts directly to your bank account through your existing online merchant services provider (and whatever fees will be incurred there.) The company also offers ticketing tiers for volume users, with discounts from 20 to 60% on ticketing fees, making this platform particularly profitable for venues that plan on selling 5,000 or 10,000 tickets over the course of a season.
Eventbrite: The gorilla of the online ticketing industry, Eventbrite could be right even for small venues and events. Unlike the other platforms, Eventbrite has either an event fee or a monthly fee. Their Flex plan is primarily for businesses with one-time events, where the U.S. fee is $9.99 per event with up to 100 tickets, $24.99 per event with up to 250 tickets, and $49.99 per event with unlimited tickets. With their Pro plan, a monthly subscription fee is charged for unlimited events, based upon seating capacity. The U.S. fees are $29.00 per month for up to 100 tickets per event, $79.00 per month for up to 250 tickets per event, or $159.00 per month for unlimited tickets per event. In addition to these per event or monthly fees, the U.S. ticketing fees are 3.7% + $1.79 per ticket sold, plus a payment processing fee of 2.9% of the total order. Clearly, this is the most expensive option of the five platforms that I have outlined; however, it is difficult to compare apples with apples from one platform to another. Providing similar features and functionality as the others, the big difference with Eventbrite is its online marketing clout. It had a network of 90 million active ticket buyers in 2022, and they will actively market your event to people seeking an outing in your area, essentially generating ticket sales that you would not otherwise reach on your own.
Just as we all have choices when it comes to finding local events, there are many choices in online ticketing services. Do your homework carefully, contact the companies and ask for demos, then choose the one that will help to make your upcoming event an unqualified success.
This post was written by Peter Pelland