Most venue ticketing platforms offer the same or similar baseline features: online ticketing, integration with the on-site box office, seating inventory management, credit card processing, and (increasingly) mobile capabilities and social media functionality. There are, however, a number of considerations and “extras” that can help buyers differentiate one platform from the next.
Business model: One of the major considerations for facilities is whether the ticketing platform charges a subscription fee or transaction fees. An annual or monthly subscription fee paid to the vendor no matter how many tickets are sold can be more lucrative for established venues—ones that can predict ticket sales more accurately. Transaction fees (a surcharge per ticket) are attractive for newer venues that have yet to establish a track record for filling seats.
Hosted or server-based: While most ticketing platforms are offered through a hosted (Software-as-a-Service) platform, there are still a few that are network-based (software is loaded onto a server). SaaS services can be more convenient and better suited to multichannel ticket sales (online, on-site, mobile, kiosk, remote call-center). On the other hand, some venue owners prefer to keep ticketing and box office operations software in house.
Payout period: Some third-party solutions provide venues with the option to use their own merchant accounts or the vendor’s account (for which the vendor charges an additional fee). In either case, two issues are worth considering: the amount of time it takes for funds to be remitted to the venue—same day vs. up to a week or more—and how the remittance is made (via check or wire transfer). More money, more quickly is usually the preferred option for venues.
Data analytics: More venue ticketing software platforms are developing more sophisticated data-analytics features. What venues have to consider is whether they are only interested in using the ticketing platform as a transactional vehicle or whether it’s worth the investment to have, for example, a real-time dashboard, Google Analytics tied to online ticket sales, mobile ticket sales data, ticket forwarding data, or tools for forecasting.
Security: Protecting patron financial data is one of the most critical considerations for venues that accept credit card payments. As of June 30, 2015, all venue ticketing software companies that process credit card payments must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard version 3.1. The standard addresses more than 280 aspects of the payment process and technology.
Extras: In the race to differentiate, venue-ticketing platforms are offering some interesting options: 360-degree panoramic video tours of the venue seating area; ability to resell, transfer or donate tickets; survey tools; integration with CRM and venue management platform modules; guest directions and mapping technology, and offers or upsell opportunities pushed to guests on site via beacon technology.
As with any software purchase, price, risk, benefits, total cost of ownership, return on investment, must-have features, and nice-to-have features factor into the purchasing decision. To find the best fit, venues should determine their budget, pain points, priorities, and expected outcomes before entertaining vendor candidates.