Sell Theatre Tickets Online, but Mind the Cost!

I am always amazed when I ask event organizers what they pay for their ticketing software, and I get some from of the following answer:

“It’s great! It’s free. We pay nothing! The ticketing software company just charges a small fee to the ticket buyers, so we get to use the system for free!”

Ugh! Let’s unpack that.  Saying the system is free because your customers are paying the fee directly to your ticketing company is absurd. If your ticket price is $40, and there is a $3 “convenience charge”, your customers are paying $43. The ticketing system is not free. You are forcing your customers to pay for it.

Ticketing is the only software I can think of where it has become acceptable to have the customers pay for it directly.  Imagine buying a pair of shoes and having the cashier ask for an additional $3 to send to the point-of-sale software provider so you can get a receipt.

The other issue is the term “small fee”.  If you review tickets for sale, you will find that most “convenience” fees are in the range of 3 – 10% of the ticket price or higher.  For example, as I wrote this paper in Chicago, I looked for Chicago White Sox tickets.  I found $45 tickets with a convenience fee of $6.00. That is a 13.3% fee!

Let’s say you sell 20,000 tickets per year, and your ticketing system costs $2 per ticket, that is $40,000 per year.  Do you pay $40,000 per year for any other software?

And check popular weekly ads:
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Aldi Catalogue, Aldi Catalogue, Big w Catalogue, Bunnings Catalogue

Of course, ticketing software providers must make a profit, and you may elect to in fact price your tickets using a separate service fee. Both of these are fine. But thinking the system is fee or cheap because customers are paying for it is misguided. If you do wish to charge service fees, why not use a lower cost ticketing solution, and use the fee to pay for other aspects of the event, such as sets, choreography, lights or marketing.

So, as you prepare to select an online ticketing software provider, it is prudent to think about how you will price your tickets and whether or not you wish to use service fees. Most importantly, we recommend looking at the software cost separately from considering service fees. The best approach is to select a ticketing system provider that serves your needs at the best price, and separately, decide how whether and how much service fees to charge your customers.

Want to learn more about selecting a system to sell theatre tickets online? Download the White Paper “Five Steps to Selecting a Ticketing System”

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