Online event registration and event ticketing: While they may seem like simple topics to some, those who have had to register guests or sell tickets to an event know that registration/ticketing are crucial components of the success of your event.
Event hosts seeking an easy online registration and event ticketing solution may be in for a surprise when they realize how many options are available. Suddenly, something that was initially meant to save time becomes another task that must be completed in order to host an event.
As hosts of an annual 1,000-person event, we’ve run into this same issue over and over. Which event ticketing service should we use? Do they all have the same functionality? Will I be sacrificing features for a lower price? All of these are great questions…but answers can be hard to come by.
That’s why we’ve created The Ultimate Guide to Online Registration and Ticketing! In this guide, we will walk you through all facets of online registration and event ticketing, including:
- An Overview of Online Registration and Event Ticketing
- Choosing the Best Provider for Your Event
- How to Price Your Event
- How to Sell Out Your Next Event
So get ready to dive in and learn everything you need to know about online event registration and ticketing in order to have your most successful event ever!
Overview of Online Registration and Event Ticketing
To start, we’d like to give you a brief overview of what we mean when we refer to online registration and event ticketing. While these terms can be used interchangeably (and usually are), they can sometimes be used differently or may have different meanings.
Generally, online registration includes any process whereby users enter their information for an event or to participate in some kind of activity. Here, users will typically enter information such as name, contact information, and sometimes additional custom information (address, birthday, occupation, etc.).
While online registration typically will involve a physical or online event, it does not necessarily have to. Instead, online registration can be used to join a list or to sign up for a special offer or discount.
Hand in hand with online registration is event ticketing. As the name indicates, there will always be some type of event associated with event ticketing, whether the event is physical or online.
In a similar fashion to online registration, users typically enter information in purchasing their tickets. Again, this information will include name, contact information, and custom fields.
Once an event ticket is purchased, users will receive a digital or physical ticket (or both).
Of course, this post is focused on online registration and event ticketing. That means that we are moving past the old-fashioned forms of registering with pen and paper when entering an event or purchasing paper tickets at the door. Instead of using these outdated and inefficient methods, we are focusing on making the best of online technology in order to open doors, increase accessibility, and improve the registration and event ticketing process.
You may already be seeing where I am going with this, but online registration and event ticketing offer clear advantages when compared to their physical counterparts. Among a few of the advantages are:
- Accessibility – Allow users to register or purchase tickets from anywhere with internet access, not just those who are physically present.
- Ease of Use – Register online or purchase tickets to an event with the click of a button. No more waiting in line to hand-write your information!
- Streamlined Processes and Tracking – While the registration / ticketing process is more efficient, so too is your post-event analysis. With online registration and ticketing, all of your registrants’ information will be stored online in a format that is easy to access and analyze.
All this will hopefully lead to additional signups and ticket sales.
Now that we’ve given a brief overview, let’s shift our focus to how to select the best online registration and event ticketing provider.
Choosing the Best Provider for Online Registration and Event Ticketing
As you may imagine, the dominance of online technology has led to the creation of endless options for almost any solution. Online registration and event ticketing are no exception. However, as event hosts ourselves, we know how much work it can take to organize and execute a successful event – you don’t want to waste any more time researching the best registration / ticketing option!
That’s why we’ve included this section explaining criteria to analyze when choosing an online registration or event ticketing provider.
A great place to start when comparing online registration / event ticketing providers will be pricing. Starting with pricing will allow you to weed out a few options immediately. When looking at pricing, the pricing structure is really where you will see the most variation between providers.
In general, online registration / event ticketing providers will charge using one or a combination of the options below:
- Flat fee per ticket or registration (e.g., $1 per ticket sold)
- Percentage cost per ticket (e.g., 1% of ticket sale amount)
Among these options, prices can vary greatly. Some providers may charge a small (or no) flat fee but a large percentage of your ticket sale amount, while others may charge a much higher flat fee and not take any percentage at all.
When looking at potential costs in choosing a provider, you must also be aware of credit card processing fees. Because we are discussing a situation where most transactions will occur online, there is no opportunity to collect cash or checks. Instead, all transactions will involve credit cards and will incur credit card processing fees. When looking at potential options, be sure to inquire about the credit card fees associated with the provider.
A related criterion that is almost as important as a provider’s pricing structure involves the fee responsibility options they offer.
When we say fee responsibility, we are referring to the party who will ultimately pay the online registration or ticketing fees charged by the provider. This does not mean the price of the ticket itself.
The two options here are quite simple:
- The hosting organization pays the fees.
- The ticket buyer / registrant pays the fees.
It is very important to realize the implications of the two above options. In option one, the hosting organization for the event would be responsible for paying all ticketing fees. These can add up quickly and become a significant cost.
On the other hand, option two outlines a scenario where the ticket buyers or registrants pay the ticketing fees as part of their transaction. If you choose to go with this option, the ticketing service that you have selected is essentially free for your organization. This can be a huge advantage that certain providers offer, especially for those of you in the nonprofit space!
The next criterion for you to consider focuses on functionality. Online registration and event ticketing providers offer many different features and functions to think about, but we’ve listed the major line items below.
One of the more obvious customizations you will be interested in for your online registration / event ticketing provider is the ability to create your own registration or ticket types. Flexibility is key for creating different registration or event ticket types as it will allow you to tailor the provider’s functionality to your own event needs. Specifically, some of the most common customizations may include:
- Creating different ticket tiers and ticket prices
- Choosing the start and end date that tickets will be on sale or that registration will open
- Specifying the number of registration spots or quantity of event tickets available for your event
- Creating different groupings (e.g., individual tickets or tables)
- Adding discount codes or hidden offers
In order to sell as many tickets as possible, you will want to have an appealing registration or ticketing web page. The ability to customize this page and tailor it to your cause is crucial.
In general, our recommendation is to spend a lot of time crafting the story around your event while also describing your group’s personal connection to the cause. Once you’ve mastered your story, it’s time to adequately convey your message on your event page.
Of course, this will not be possible unless you find a provider that allows for the proper customization options when creating your registration or event page!
Some features to consider when shopping around for registration / ticketing providers include:
- Ability to add in your own personal story and message AND have it display prominently on your event ticketing page
- Ability to add your own logo and images – these images can help the visual appeal of your event page and can lead to increased sales
- Donation options – if you’re supporting a cause or nonprofit, it’s crucial that you have a donation button or tab that can be added to your event page
The data collected on your registrants or ticket buyers is extremely valuable. Not only will this data allow you to track the different giving activities of your supporters, but it will allow you to store their contact information and create valuable communication strategies to engage your audience throughout the year.
In order to collect the right information for your specific event, it is vital that your online registration or event ticketing provider offers the ability to collect custom data from your audience at the point of registration or ticket purchase.
While many providers will collect standard information (name, email address, etc.), all organizations and events see some types of information as more valuable than others, and their choice of emphasis may differ. A few custom data points that we’ve seen include:
- Phone number
- Table preferences
- Job title
If you’ve helped run a fundraising event before, you know all too well the pains involved with event check-in. Online registration and event ticketing will significantly improve your check-in process, assuming you use the right provider!
Here, be sure to look for a few different features:
- Tissue Issuance – When someone registers or purchases a ticket, do they receive an email? The best providers will send your guests a digital ticket, with the option to also print out a PDF of their ticket.
- QR Code Reading – Be sure to look out providers that have the ability to scan QR codes for check-in. With this method, each ticket purchased will have its own QR code (either on a printed ticket, in an email, or both). When a guest arrives at your event, check-in will be as simple as pointing your phone’s camera at the QR code to recognize and check the user in !
- Guest Lookup – As a backup to QR code readers (in case the guest cannot find their ticket), guest lookup capabilities will be extremely helpful. Here, you and your staff can look up guests by name, and you can mark them as “checked in” once they arrive at your event.
The next feature to look for, especially important for fundraising events, focuses on the different kinds of integrations offered by the online registration / event ticketing service that you move forward with.
As far as integrations are concerned, there are two major integrations that can add a huge boost to your fundraising efforts:
- Mobile Fundraising Platforms– Are you planning to include a silent auction, raffle, or donation page at your fundraising event? If so, you will want a ticketing provider that integrates with mobile fundraising capabilities. With an integration of this kind, while purchasing their event tickets or registering, your users can also be viewing your silent auction or raffle items online – or even submitting a donation! Furthermore, once they purchase a ticket, their user information will be stored, meaning they will not need to re-enter this information when they participate at your fundraiser or during checkout after they’ve won a prize. Sounds like a win-win for you and your guests!
2. Donor Management Systems – The second integration you will want to look for involves donor management systems. If you work for a non-profit, you know that contact information from your donors is extremely valuable. With this information, you can create communication strategies in order to keep your donors informed and thus build a lasting relationship with them. When using a ticketing platform that integrates with a donor management system, you will be able to seamlessly pass your guest information directly into your donor management system so that they become part of your yearly fundraising strategy outside of your one-off event.
The final criterion to look for when choosing an online registration or event ticketing provider should not be overlooked! Strong customer service will not only make your experience better when setting up and executing your event, but it will give you peace of mind throughout your event and into its conclusion.
Our preference is to have as much customer service as possible, so look for providers that offer 24/7 support, whether via live chat or phone.
How to Price Your Event
So far, we’ve given you an overview of online ticketing and event registration and offered criteria to look for when choosing the best provider. Now it’s time to put these skills to use and show how you can employ online registration and event ticketing to generate more revenue than ever and sell out your event!
Before you can begin selling tickets or asking people to register for your event, you will need to determine the right pricing strategy for your event!
The right pricing strategy can make all the difference in your event, ultimately generating more revenue and higher profits. But how should you price your event in order to drive the most profit?
Common methods for pricing include:
- “Cost-Plus Pricing” – Here, event organizers add up all of their costs and create prices that are above their total costs while hitting a target profit margin.
- Comparative or Competitive Pricing is when you price your tickets based on similar events.
While both of these methods can work, they are not optimal. Instead, we recommend a strategy that uses Perceived Value and Accurate Cost Assumptions to determine the correct pricing per ticket.
Let’s start with perceived value. The perceived value for your event will be the value that your guests think they should receive by attending your event. This value can include attributes like amusement and entertainment, the positive feeling of donating, or just having a fun time out with friends and family.
Regardless of the reason, your guests will not buy your tickets if these are priced above their perceived value!
Next, it is crucial to accurately identify your costs. For most events, your costs will come in two forms:
- Fixed Costs – These costs will remain constant throughout the course of your event planning and may include:
- Venue Costs
- Staff Costs
- Variable Costs – These costs will change based on the size of your event and how many resources are used during the event. Examples here include:
- Food & Beverages
- Gift Bags
Identifying your costs accurately will allow you to price your event in a way that drives efficiency and allows your event to reach higher profitability. Costing is one of the most important steps in being able to create a plan that will allow you to hit your margins.
Finally, it’s time to put your pricing together. At this point, you have estimated the perceived value of your event to your guests and identified your costs as accurately as possible. The last piece of the puzzle involves choosing your prices.
In general, you will want to assign prices that are below perceived value and above your cost estimates. This method will ensure that demand exists for your tickets and that you will reach profitability.
Methods to Optimize Your Pricing
With this strategy in mind, we have a few tips for you on how to optimize your pricing strategy:
- Create Perceived Value – While perceived value mostly reflects the opinion of your guests, there are ways to increase perceived value. Some of our favorites include:
- VIP Tickets – Creating a tier of tickets that provides special benefits (without a lot of incremental cost) is the perfect way to increase perceived value and profit.
- Early Access – Similarly, providing guests with early access to an event will convince them to pay more while barely increasing your costs!
- Price Transparency – Here, we suggest publishing the prices for all of your tiers, including last-minute tickets. By showing your guests the difference in price they would pay by purchasing their tickets ahead of time instead of at the last minute, you will drive scarcity, urgency, and perceived value.
- Increase Your Prices Over Time – A commonly used method for online registration and event ticketing is to increase your pricing over time. As mentioned earlier, this strategy will help increase perceived value as it will clearly display to your guests the difference in price that will be paid now versus closer to the event. A few ticketing types (in ascending price order) to consider include:
- Early Bird
- General Admission
- Last Minute
- At the Door
How to Sell Out Your Event
With your pricing strategy in place, let’s get into our favorite portion of this guide…tips on how you can sell out your event!
Tip # 1 – Make Use of Scarcity (FOMO)
The idea of creating scarcity is also known as FOMO (fear of missing out) and can be a very powerful tactic to help you sell tickets fast. Effectively creating FOMO will lead to your event going viral, and guests will purchase tickets faster than ever.
Our favorite methods to create FOMO include:
- Create Different Ticketing Tiers (described above)
- Display Tickets Available / Number of Tickets Sold
While most ticketing platforms will let you monitor your ticket sales numbers internally, the best providers will give you the option to display the number of available tickets left for each of your ticket types. Displaying this number will give your audience a live count of the ticket supply remaining and can drive a buying frenzy when people become worried that they will miss out if they do not buy their tickets.
Tip # 2 – Draw On Past Attendees / Supporters
Online event registration and online ticketing will allow you to collect contact information from your past and current guests. This data will become invaluable to your team as you prepare for your next fundraiser.
If you have organized successful past events, your prior guests will become your best advocates in promoting your current event.
One approach we use to leverage our advocates is to initially invite only our closest friends, family, and supporters to purchase tickets to our event. Building your ticket-buyer base with people you know will attend your event will build momentum and create an exclusive feeling for your best supporters. Initial sales will look great as additional people visit your site to buy tickets. We also recommend adding a Facebook Event as part of your marketing plan so that your early buyers can mark themselves as “Attending” your event, thus driving additional tickets to be purchased.
Tip # 3 – Maximize Your Network and Committee
As you prepare to promote and invite people to your event, it is important that you don’t overlook the significance of your own committee or volunteers. These groups are passionate about your event, and can tap into their personal networks to start momentum and buzz around your event. The result? An early boost to ticket sales!
One way to envision this is to expect your committee to take all of the actions that you (as the host) would take to sell tickets or promote your event – your committee/volunteers are an extension of your event and can contribute significantly to its success.
Tip # 4 – Use Social Media
We’ve found social media to be a critical tool in promoting events and driving ticket sales. An easy place to start is simply creating a Facebook page for your event. Using this page as your central hub, you and your committee can begin inviting close supporters to follow the page. As more and more people follow the page, your social footprint will grow and help drive sales.
Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are also the perfect medium through which to communicate updates to your audience. We like using Facebook and Twitter updates to provide teasers for our event, drive scarcity by announcing how many tickets are left, and even announcing the current tally of funds raised!
Finally, most social media channels will now let you run targeted ads at a low cost. We recommend creating ads with a strong call-to-action (“buy your tickets today”) and images that pop on the screen. Some other criteria to consider when targeting your ads include:
- Location – If your event is in Boston, you should start by running ads to those in Boston!
- Behavioral Data – You can target people who are interested in your type of event or frequently attend similar events. For example, we target people who attend fundraising events when we run our Facebook ads.
- Age Range – Is there a specific age range that you are expecting at your event? Target them specifically with your Facebook ads!
Tip #5 – Run a Ticket Giveaway
While we would never encourage you to give too many tickets away, a ticket giveaway is a cost-effective and engaging way to increase ticket sales. Using a giveaway, you can motivate your guests or potential ticket buyers to complete some sort of task in order to have a chance to win a ticket. Tasks can include:
- Posting about your event
- Referring a friend to buy a ticket
These tasks will help spread the word on your event but will also make your attendees feel more involved.
Tip #6 – Promote Your Event
Promoting and marketing your event may be an obvious way to increase your ticket sales – but have you considered all the different channels and strategies you can use to promote your event? To make it easy, we’ve listed 37 different ways to promote your fundraiser! The strategies include anything from using social media to giving your event a unique name.
Now that you’ve finished our guide on online registration and event ticketing, we hope that you feel well-equipped to begin planning your next event. While the process of selling tickets can certainly be daunting, we are confident that this guide will provide the proper tools and strategies to bring you from vendor research all the way to selling more tickets than ever before.