Far from being simple topics, online event registration and ticketing play an essential role in the success (or failure!) of your event.
Event organizers know that when attracting and winning over attendees, they need to consider both of these topics carefully and factor them into their event planning process.
But here’s the thing, nailing online event registration and ticketing is not without its complications. Should event planners use an online platform and if so, which is best? Are they all the same? What features are offered by different platforms and are they worth the cost?
Fortunately, we’ve got the answers to your questions!
This Ultimate Guide to Online Event Registration and Ticketing will tell you everything you need to know about not only registration and ticketing but also how to choose a platform, how to price your event and how to pull all of this information together to sell out your next event!
Online Event Registration and Ticketing
Before we get any deeper into this guide, we need to make sure that we all understand the terms being used. What exactly are online event registration and ticketing?
What is online registration?
Online registration is any process in which users input their information to participate in an event or activity.
Online registration typically involves an actual event — physical or online, but it doesn’t have to have an event attached to it. Registration can be used for a mailing list sign-ups, for discount codes, or for special offers.
Generally speaking, the information shared during online registration will include standard personal details like name and contact information. Depending on the registration form and the purpose, it may be necessary to include other details like date of birth and occupation.
What is event ticketing?
Event ticketing is a lot like event registration except there is always an event attached to the process.
As with registration, users will input basic information when purchasing their tickets. This will include, name, contact info, and any appropriate custom fields.
Once the payment and/or registration is processed, users will receive a digital or physical ticket (sometimes both).
Why should you use online event registration and ticketing?
In this day and age, it just makes sense to move event registration and ticketing online. Given that so much of our daily lives is conducted online, why wouldn’t you also conduct your business online?
Using paper registration forms and physical tickets can cause more complications than they are worth. Technology will not only make life easier for event management, but it will also improve the attendee experience.
The benefits of online registration and ticketing include:
- Accessibility: Taking operations online allows interested parties to purchase tickets and register from any place in the world that has online access. The easier you make it for people to register or purchase tickets, the more likely they are to do so.
- Saves Time: Using a ticketing system or event registration platform can turn users into registrants in the click of a button. No more handwritten forms, no more waiting in line, and no more potentially time-consuming face to face interactions.
- Reduces Costs: Event organizers understand that customer satisfaction is the name of the game. Beyond saving registrants’ time, you can reduce event costs by reducing the number of staff required for registration and ticketing. These savings can be passed on to the registrants!
- Improves Event Management: Using an online tool, you will not only have a more streamlined process overall, but you will also have better access to the data you need to both plan and evaluate your event. The right platform can help you monitor sales data in realtime, allow you to analyze and understand attendee details, and shape your marketing strategy to better meet your event goals.
- More Eco-Friendly: Anything that can be done to reduce the use of paper can only help the environment. Online registration and ticketing mean less paper and a less harmful environmental impact.
Now that you fully understand the what and the why of online event registration and ticketing, it’s time to look at the things you should consider when choosing a registration and ticketing platform.
Choosing an Online Event Registration and Ticketing Platform
As with most things in the online world, there is no shortage of registration and ticketing tools available to planners and organizers. But how do you know which are best, and more importantly, how do you know one is best for you?
All tools have a purpose and some platforms will address some needs better than others.
To make sure you find the ticketing and registration solution that is most appropriate for you, here are some questions you need to ask:
What is the pricing structure?
For most people, price is the first consideration when comparing two similar products. And price is likely where you will see the most variation.
Typically, registration and ticketing platforms break down pricing using one (or a combination of) the following:
- Flat fee per ticket or registration — example: $1 per ticket sold
- Percentage cost per ticket — example: 1% of the ticket sale amount
These pricing options may seem straightforward but the way providers implement and apply them can vary greatly.
For example, some providers will charge a small flat fee (or none at all) but take a large percentage of the ticket sale amount. Other providers will charge a higher flat fee but not take a percentage at all.
Once you fully understand a provider’s service fees and fee structure, you can then begin to determine whether or not the costs fit into your event budget.
But before you move forward with any platform make sure you have all the information you need regarding credit card processing fees. Because the bulk of your transactions will be taking place online, the majority of sales will be charged to credit cards, incurring processing fees. Always ask about any associated credit card fees when assessing potential providers.
Who is responsible for paying fees?
“Fee responsibility” refers to the party that will ultimately pay the online registration and/or ticketing fees charged by the provider.
There are two ways this could go:
- The host organization pays the fees
- The ticket buyer/registrant pays the fees
It is incredibly important to understand both of these options.
In the first scenario, the host organization will cover all fees. While the individual fees may not seem like much, they can accumulate quickly and become a very significant cost.
In the second scenario, the fees will be absorbed by event attendees when they purchase tickets or register to attend. Choosing this option means that the cost of the software tools will be next to free for you or the host organization.
The ability to pass fees on to the buyer can be a significant advantage, particularly to small organizations or non-profits.
Now that some of the cost considerations are out of the way, it’s time to consider some of the primary customizations and features you should be looking for in registration and ticketing software!
Can you create ticket types?
Flexibility is key when it comes to creating an event that suits both your organization’s brand and the needs of your audience.
The ability to customize ticket types will help you tailor the ticketing software to your specific requirements.
Common ticket types and ticket customizations include:
- Creating different ticket tiers and different ticket pricing
- Choosing start and end dates for ticket sales and registration
- Specifying the number of registration slots or tickets available for an event
- Creating groupings or bundles (individual tickets or tables)
- Adding discount codes or hidden offers
If you are even remotely considering offering ‘early bird’ tickets or tickets with different access levels, this will be a valuable function so be sure not to overlook this capability when selecting a platform.
Can you design an event website?
One of the most important steps you can take to promote your event brand and get the most from your event marketing strategy is to create an event website.
Selling people on your event involves carefully planned branding that not only speaks to a specific audience but details who you are and what you’re all about. Branding (when done properly) allows you to tell a story and to create connections.
To make this process as easy for you as possible, look for a ticketing platform that allows you the right level of customization when building a registration or event page.
In terms of webpage customization, here are some features to look for:
- The ability to add your brand’s unique story and message AND have it displayed prominently on your event page.
- The ability to add your own logo and images. These images can help connect people with your brand and event, leading to potentially higher sales.
- The ability to integrate donation options. With fundraising events, to maximize donations, it is essential to have a donations tab or button on your event page.
Can you collect custom registration information?
Any information you collect on your registrants is incredibly valuable.
This data can help you track their donation habits but it also gives you their contact information so you can segment your attendee list and create communications and marketing strategies that speak directly to them. Keeping this audience deeply engaged with your brand increases the chances that they will participate in future events hosted by the brand.
The audience data that is most important to you may not be even remotely relevant or significant to a different organization. So, to get what you need, you require customized information fields.
Almost all registration and ticketing providers will collect the basics — name and email address; which is great but you may require more.
Some additional fields you need may include:
- Mailing address
- Job title
- Date of birth
- Meal Choice
Can you improve and streamline check-in?
Anyone who has ever attended or hosted an event knows that event check-in can be a little hairy. Online registration and ticketing can help you streamline the check-in process — assuming your provider has the right features. And if they do, you’ll be amazed at how painless check-in can actually be.
- Ticket Issuance: when someone registers or purchases a ticket, do they receive an email confirmation? Do they receive a ticket via email? The best platforms will email a digital ticket with an option to print a PDF of the ticket.
- QR Code Reading: to improve the check-in process and satisfy both your management team and attendees, look for a provider that enables QR code scanning, making check-in as simple as pointing a phone’s camera at the code!
- Guest Lookup: because sometimes guests can’t find their tickets, look for a guest lookup feature as a backup. This will allow staff to search for registrants by name and then manually mark them as “checked in.”
What integrations are available?
Depending on the type of event you are planning or hosting, it might be necessary to have an online registration software and/or ticketing platform that offers integration with other platforms and tools.
For example, you might want an integration with your email management software or your specific payment processing app.
There are two types of integrations that can be extremely useful to event planners who are working on fundraising events. These integrations can help you significantly boost your fundraising totals:
- Mobile Fundraising Platform: If your event will involve a silent auction, raffle, or a collection of donations, you should look for a ticketing platform that allows for mobile fundraising. This type of integration means that when people register for your event or purchase a ticket, they can also view auction/raffle items and place a bid, or make an online donation. The system will also be able to store all of their personal information so they will not have to re-enter the data to participate in the fundraiser or they win a prize. This also gives them one website they will need to use throughout the entire event experience. Remember, saving attendees time will help improve their overall experience!
- Donor Management Systems: This integration is particularly important for nonprofits. Donor details are critical and with a donor management system, you can create communication strategies that keep donors informed, fostering a stronger relationship with them. With an integrated donor management system, you can seamlessly pass on your attendee list and guest information from your registration software to the management system, meaning these donors can be included in your annual fundraising drive instead of just participating in your one-off event.
Is there 24/7 customer support?
If a platform has strong customer support, you can breathe a little easier. Not only will you have the assistance you may need when setting up your event, but 24/7 support can also help you out during the event as well.
Look for a provider that provides around the clock customer support through live chat or phone.
Ticketing 101: How to Price Your Event
Now that you know what to look for in an online event registration and ticketing platform, it’s time to put it to use.
Before you open registration or start selling tickets online, you need to determine a pricing strategy.
The right pricing strategy is essential for generating revenue, but how exactly do you find that *just right* strategy?
The most common pricing strategies are:
- Cost-Plus Pricing: With this strategy, event organizers add up all of their costs and determine a price that is higher than these costs and within the target profit margin.
- Comparative or Competitive Pricing: With this strategy, ticket price is based on the ticket prices for similar events.
While these may be common strategies, they are not optimal. Instead, try a strategy that includes both perceived value and accurate cost assumptions to find the correct price per ticket.
The perceived value for your event will be the value that guests expect to receive from attending your event. The factors that help determine perceived value include amusement levels, entertainment, the good feelings that come from donating, and the pure joy of a night out with friends, family and/or community.
Potential guests will not pay for tickets that are beyond the perceived value of their experience so be sure to think about this objectively We know this event may be the focus of your entire year, but it could hold less significance for guests.
When it comes to evaluating costs, you will find they typically come in two forms — fixed and variable.
- Fixed Costs: These costs will remain constant throughout the event planning process. They may include things like staff costs, venue rental, and decorations.
- Variable Costs: These costs will change depending on the size of the event and the resources required. They may include things like food and beverage costs and swag or gift bags.
If you can accurately estimate your costs, you can be much more efficient and profitable in your pricing.
Once you have determined cost estimates and perceived value, you can lock in your pricing. The goal is to find the sweet spot that is higher than your costs but below your perceived value.
How to Optimize Pricing
Here are a few tips that can help you optimize your pricing strategy:
- Create Perceived Value: While a significant portion of perceived value will lie in the opinion of your guests, it is possible to create value and help yourself out a little. Try:
- VIP Tickets — Create tiered ticketing that offers special benefits without saddling the buyer with a significant expense. When you have VIP tickets set as the top tier, you automatically improve the value of all tiers below it.
- Early Access — Like VIP tickets, early access tickets can convince interested parties to pay more without increasing any of your own costs.
- Price Transparency — Publish the price of all your ticket tiers. Doing so will show interested parties the difference in price between buying early and waiting to purchase at the door. This strategy also drives scarcity and urgency while increasing perceived value.
- Increase prices over time: The closer you get to the date of your event, the higher the ticket price should be. Within reason, of course. Consider establishing the following ticket tiers:
- Early Bird
- General Admission
- Last Minute
- At the Door
Tying It All Together: How to Sell Out Your Event
You’ve chosen a registration software/online ticketing provider, you’ve set your ticket prices, and you’re in the final stretch! Now it’s time to get selling!
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. If you can creatively and effectively evoke FOMO in your audience, your event will go viral and in all likelihood, sell out.
Some of the ways you can create FOMO is by creating ticket tiers (as covered above) and/or by displaying the number of tickets available and the number of tickets sold. This helps to create a sense of urgency in your guests’ purchase.
The majority of ticketing platforms will allow you to monitor your sales numbers internally but the best providers will also include the option to display the number of tickets left for each ticket type. This number gives your audience a live count of the tickets remaining and can drive sales by prompting concern and fears of missing out completely if tickets aren’t purchased immediately.
Draw on Past Attendees/Supporters
Online event registration and online ticketing enable you to collect contact information from all guests — past and present. This data can serve as a valuable tool in preparing for your next event.
If you have organized successful past events, your prior guests will become your best advocates in promoting your current event.
One effective approach in leveraging past attendees and supporters is to begin by inviting only your closest friends and family, and strongest supporters, to purchase tickets. Solidifying your ticket-buyer base with individuals that you know will attend your event can build momentum and create a sense of exclusivity. These initial sales will look good to any outside people visiting your ticketing page.
It is also a good idea to create a Facebook Event. People who have purchased tickets can mark themselves as “Attending,” which will help generate FOMO and drive additional ticket sales.
Maximize Your Network and Committee
When preparing to launch your event marketing campaign, don’t forget your event management staff, your event committee, and your volunteers.
These groups of people are already fully on board with your event and feel strongly about it. Tap into their passion by asking them to promote your event among their personal networks. This can instigate momentum and create a little buzz. The result? A rush on early ticket sales!
Use Social Media
Social media is a powerful way to promote events and sell tickets.
A simple place to start is with a Facebook Event page. This page can act as a central hub, allowing you and your committee members to invite supporters to follow. As more people follow the page, your social footprint will grow increasing brand recognition and driving sales.
Using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter is the perfect way to communicate updates to your audience and registered attendees. You can share teasers for your event, drive scarcity by announcing the number of tickets left, and even share current fundraising tallies!
Social media channels are also a great way to manage your marketing campaign. These channels will allow you to run targeted ads (at a low cost!) helping you to reach the people who are likely to be most interested in attending your event. Your social media ads should include a strong call to action and images that support your brand and message.
Some other criteria to consider when creating targeted ads include:
- Location: Begin by running ads that target the city in which the event is going to occur. If your event is happening in Boston, for example, run your initial ads in Boston.
- Behavioral Data: Target people who are interested in your event type or who frequently attend similar events. If you are running a fundraiser, target people who attend fundraisers.
- Age Range: Is there a specific age range that you are expecting at your event? Create Facebook ads that target them specifically.
Run a Ticket Giveaway
Obviously, you don’t want to give away too many tickets — you need to protect those profits, but a ticket giveaway can be a cost-effective and engaging strategy for increasing ticket sales.
Through a giveaway, you can motivate guests and potential ticket buyers to carry out a task, or series of tasks, in exchange for the chance to win a ticket to your event.
Tasks can include:
- Sharing your event on their social media pages
- Liking your branded social media pages
- Using your branded event hashtag
- Referring a friend to buy a ticket
These tasks not only encourage audience participation, but they also help increase your reach and brand awareness while creating a sense of fun and community through active participation.
Promote Your Event
Sure, promoting your event is a no-brainer, but have you actually taken the time to map out all of the different ways you can do this?
To help get the juices flowing (and make life easier), we’ve put together a handy list of event marketing strategies and promotion ideas. From choosing a cool venue to selling tickets online, our list will help!
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of our online registration and event ticketing guide! You now have all the information you need to begin planning your next event. While the registration process and ticket sales can feel complicated and a little overwhelming at times, this guide, coupled with a platform like Accelevents, can help find the success you are after!