These days, smaller organisations who sell tickets to their events no longer need to use a pen and paper method to record ticket sales or the ticketing system services of a major ticketing company to sell their tickets. There are now a number of ticketing software systems available which provide an economic way of managing ticket sales not only through your local box office but via Web site sales and sales via agents or other resellers.
Generally speaking, providers of box office ticketing systems either sell the software or they operate a fully hosted system where the main ticketing and payment processors are installed on the providers servers. In order to recover the development costs, the sellers of software systems may charge several thousand dollars for their system, but generally this would be a once off charge apart from maybe a maintenance contract or additional costs for software updates. For small to medium organisations however the fully hosted system may be a more appropriate option since in this case the service providers charge only on the basis of every ticket that is sold through the system which may either be a dollar per ticket charge or a percentage of the ticket price. The fees under this system can vary from about $0.50 per ticket or about 2% on the ticket price upwards depending on the additional services that are provided, such as handling credit card payments or posting out tickets.
In order to sell tickets online. an organisation must have a payment gateway and Internet merchant account setup, which links to the main ticketing page. In a large number of cases of course a small organisation will not have these facilities set up and may not wish to set up such facilities. They are however a large number of gateway service providers which charge a small transaction fee or maybe a percentage of the transaction amount for providing the gateway service between the shopping cart and the financial institution’s merchant account. There are also other organisations such as PayPal which can be used quite easily which do not require a payment gateway or merchant account to be established.
Of course it is also possible to sell tickets online even without having such a payment system setup. In this case, when your customers purchase a ticket online, they will be given a voucher number which they then bring to the venue before an event and after paying full for the tickets that they have ordered, the voucher is exchanged for actual tickets.
Whilst a specialised thermal ticket printer such as those manufactured by Boca Systems, is the ideal situation since these print out individual tickets from special ticket stock, the cost of these printers unfortunately is much higher than a normal LaserJet or ink-jet printer – typically over $1,000 which may be outside the budget of small organisations who do not print a large number of tickets per year. Fortunately some of the box office ticketing systems will allow tickets to be printed with a normal LaserJet or ink-jet printer using easily obtainable letter sized perforated ticket blanks which typically print four or five tickets per page. No matter which system is used however, most box office systems allow some customisation in terms of what can be printed on the tickets such as logos or images etc.
Web site integration
Most box office ticketing systems use one of two methods to integrate the ticket selection and payment processing into a website. Firstly, a few lines of code may be inserted into a webpage on the organisation’s existing web site, and this code will handle the entire ticketing and check out process without leaving the organisation’s website (unless a payment processor like PayPal is used). The other method is that a webpage is created with the exact look and feel of the organisation’s own websites, and similarly the code is also inserted within this template page, but in this case the actual web page is located on a different server and is linked to the organisation’s website by a hyperlink. In most cases, the user would not be aware that they had been transferred to a different site to handle the seat selection and payment.
Of course every organisation also has additional requirements, such as the ability to handle season tickets, to sell ticket from additional outlets, to sell gift cards or Flex Passes, to accept donations etc. and every box office ticketing system will have somewhat different features included. However the above four considerations probably encompass the main concerns for any organisation contemplating a new box office ticketing system. But as explained above, none of these should be a stumbling block for any organisation who wishes to handle their own online ticketing, and reap the additional advantages that operating their own system can provide rather than using a ticketing service organization.