Best way to sell tickets online

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1) Dedicated ticketing platform or host your own?

While searching for the best way to sell event tickets online,  some of us will have built our own ticketing solutions using publicly available plugins on WordPress. If you have done this then you will know that it takes time and technical skills to get it right. Some people will get it working but many others will have to call on their technical expert or abandon the idea part way through and look for an alternative solution. From personal experience I know that any mistakes can result in having to contact your ticket buyers one by one to resolve their issues, which is no fun when you are selling hundreds of tickets.

Once you have a solution working, the next consideration is technical support. If you make your own solution then you need to consider how to support a 24 hour 7 day ticketing system. Sudden last minute rushes for tickets to your event can exceed the capacity of your hosting plan and this can lead to customers not being unable to connect to your website and lost sales as a result. Very rarely will the hosting company be of much help in this situation because they know nothing about the solution you have put in place.

The flip side alternative is to use a dedicated ticketing platform (typically a cloud SaaS solution). This is designed to do one thing, sell tickets, and to do it well. It will have been designed to address many issues that you may not have thought of yet, such as how to deliver your tickets without them being blocked as spam! One of the biggest advantages of these platforms is that they are already up and running, you only need to enter the definition of your tickets, there is nothing for you to install and no technical work to do.

However, many successful event organizers will already have a brand that they have worked hard to build and they will want to use their existing marketing channels to reach their customers and sell their event tickets. In this situation possibly the best way to sell tickets online is a hybrid approach where you install a WordPress plugin on your website that allows you to embed sales pages that you have defined on the 3rd party ticketing platform. In this way your ticket buying customers feel that the brand they already know provided the complete ticketing service, which will give a good customer experience

2) Which is best, fixed or per ticket fees?

Any commercial ticketing platform will need to charge you a fee to cover the cost of their service. Their pricing model could be fixed, variable (per ticket) or a combination. Which is best for your business?

I would start by taking a look again at the ticket sales targets you have defined and thinking of the probability of overshooting or under performing on those ticket sales targets. This is important because if there is a serious doubt you may under perform then per ticket sales fees will have the advantage of reducing your ticketing costs, however, if you are successful in selling more tickets than planned then per ticket sales fees will add to your costs (no-one likes being penalized for their success).

Therefore if you plan to hit your targets then there might be an advantage to opt for a fixed monthly subscription to the ticketing platform and not to pay per ticket fees. To find out if this will work for your event you would then need to look very carefully at the subscription pricing options. If the ticket volume slabs are very wide apart then you may find that as you sell tickets for bigger events then rather than there being a progressive increase in costs, instead there is a significant increase in costs at a certain volume.

Armed with this information you could now look at the pricing models of your potential suppliers and make a decision which is best for your event and your business.

3) Who do you trust with your money?

Before you choose a ticketing platform, be sure to know where the money from your tickets goes and when you will receive it. Broadly each ticketing platform will use one of these two models.

  1. Customers pay the ticketing platform company for the ticket and the ticketing platform remits the funds to you (after any contractual deductions).
  2. The ticket platform uses your account details to settle the customer’s ticket payment directly into your account.

The advantage of the first option is that you don’t need to create an account with a card processing company like Stripe or PayPal. You can take advantage of the card processing facilities already setup by the ticketing platform which could save you time. If you were to choose this method then you would want to know contractually when the ticket platform company is going to pay you the ticket money that it has collected. Also be sure that you have understood all the possible fees and deductions that might take place. In the extreme scenario you also want to be sure that the money is yours even if the ticketing platform was to cease operations.

Conversely, the disadvantage of the direct payment option is that you have to create your own accounts with Stripe or PayPal or whichever financial intermediary you choose. The advantages are that you get the money as fast as possible without any deductions and you then have a greater control over the ticket revenue.

In summary: the best way to sell tickets online

To conclude, in our experience the best way to sell tickets online is to use a ticketing platform rather than a self hosted plugin solution. However, there are many differences between the platforms available and you need to be careful to choose one that best matches your immediate and long term business needs.


We wish you every success with your event sales!

The Coconut Tickets team

Coconut Tickets provides a ticketing platform for selling public tickets and vendor pitches (concessions).

Posted in: blog

Written by Clive.verrall

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