Best way to sell vendor pitches and concessions for events online

Why sell only event tickets online?

Event organizers have long since embraced selling public tickets to their events online and the benefits have been tangible. To increase those benefits, now it is time to find the best way to sell vendor pitches and concessions online and then be able to sell your complete event online.

Public ticket events are complex to organize and are multi-disciplinary. Therefore since the early days of events third parties have been invited to add to the event by selling food, merchandise or any other products that may enhance the event customer experience. This sub-contracting can be as humble as the sale of hot dogs from a concession stand, to a vendor pitch selling books, or a fully licensed concession kitchen and bar.

There are many products in the market for selling public tickets to event customers, but there are far fewer products for selling your vendor pitches and event concessions online.

This article analyses the main points you will need to consider when you want to sell vendor pitches and concessions online.

Dedicated vendor platform or build your own?

While writing this article I searched the pages of many events including county fairs, state fairs, shows and festivals. I noticed that of the events that were already selling their vendor pitches and concessions online, that many of them had built their own solutions. These were mainly simple online forms, many of them without any payment mechanism.

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. Vendor pitch and concession sales are relatively low volume, but mistakes in your use of the technology can lead to failing to achieve the benefits outlined in the article 12 Benefits to selling vendor pitches and concessions online at your event.

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 vendor pitch and concession sales system. If you encounter problems then your hosting provider is unlikely to be of much help as they didn’t build your solution. So you going to need to factor in the cost of having technical support people that you can call on.

The alternative is to use a dedicated event ticketing platform (typically a cloud SaaS solution) that is designed for selling your whole event and includes facilities to sell vendor pitches and concessions online. It will have been designed to address many issues that you may not have thought of yet, such as how to deliver en electronic confirmation for the pitch or concession order without it 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 pitches and concessions. There is nothing for you to install and no technical work to do.

You then link your website or social media channel to the third party event management platform to start selling.

 

5 models to sell vendor pitches and concessions

Unlike online event ticketing there are many different models already in use to sell vendor pitches and concessions in the physical world. Before deciding on the event ticketing platform to use you will need to make sure that the platform either supports the model your event uses. Alternatively, be prepared to change your current business model and adapt to one of the models that they do support.

Which one of these models do you use today?

  1. Pitches sold by dimensions (e.g. a 3 meter wide pitch).
  2. Defined size pitches sold in fixed locations from an event layout map.
  3. Vendor slots and pitches with fixed prices (e.g. pitch A-32 is $140).
  4. Bidding for vendor slots and pitches (closed auction, highest bidder takes the chosen vendor slot).
  5. Paid upfront registration fee and then a proposed bid.

Armed with the knowledge that there are these different models to sell vendor pitches and concessions you will find it easier verifying with your chosen event ticketing platform that they support your model.

 

Capture key information when the vendor applies

To minimize the follow up communication needed with a vendor you will want to capture the key information you need as part of their booking. In addition to the vendor’s contact details, the following information needs to be considered too.

  1. Vendor’s product details (including photos).
  2. Any certificates needed to operate the vendor’s business legally in the event’s jurisdiction.
  3. Insurance documents (e.g. public liability).
  4. Customer pricing information.

There is no advantage in making phone calls and sending emails to the vendor to get this information later on if you can get it all during the booking. Making certain information mandatory you can ensure that a booking cannot be completed unless your key information has been supplied.

Other features needed to sell vendor pitches and concessions

You may be hesitant to move over to a completely online solution until you can be sure that you can get all the benefits possible. To this end you will want to identify whether the additional facilities numbered below are part of your off-line vendor pitch and concession sales today. They need to be available in your online solution too.

  1. You offer rental of electrical power services to vendors during the event.
  2. You have other optional fees that the vendor or concessionaire need to commit to when they place their booking (e.g. parking fees for extra vehicles or extra garbage collection).
  3. Early bird sales, you may have regular vendors at your event who have pitches allocated to them before the pitches are offered publicly. Be sure that you can register these pitches as having already been sold before you offer the pitches to other vendors online.

Branding

As an event organizer you will have spent  a long time building up your brand and the brand of your event. When you choose an event ticketing platform on which to sell your vendor pitches and concessions, you will want to make sure that the platform’s own branding is minimal and that you can apply your own branding. This should include being able to add your logo to your sales pages and potentially changing the colors and fonts used.

Links to your sales page

Remember that the platform you use to sell vendor pitches and concessions is not part of your website. Therefore if you want to market your pitches and concessions from your own website or from your social media channels you will need to link to your event ticketing platform.

There are broadly two approaches to achieve these links:

  1. On WordPress you can embed your vendor sales page into your website using a plugin. This has the advantage that the vendor doesn’t leave your website, they are not aware of a third party platform being used, this can increase trust and be a good customer experience.
  2. Alternatively you can simply create a hyper link from your website (or social media) to your event ticketing platform. This is simple and effective.

 

Vendor registration with e-tickets

When the vendors arrive at your event you shouldn’t need to search your printed spreadsheets to verify who they are and where they should be setting up. At the end of the booking your event ticketing platform should issue e-tickets for the vendor pitches and concessions that have been sold. Then when they arrive on-site you can simply scan their e-tickets to know who they are and all the information about their booking. Scanning may require a hand-held scanner or a smart phone with a dedicated scanning application (supplied by the event ticketing platform).

Summary

In summary, the best way to sell vendor pitches and concessions is to use an event ticketing platform that can sell your whole event and supports the business models you use for selling vendor pitches and concessions at your event today. This platform should allow you to include your own branding, have order forms that allow you to collect all the information you need and should issue e-tickets to the vendor that can be scanned to verify proof of purchase when they arrive at the event.

 

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).

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