Event ticketing

downloadToday, in the UK, the House of Commons debated whether or not legislation should be passed with regard to secondary ticketing agencies.

The proposed amendments would require secondary market re-sellers and touts selling their tickets through major internet platforms like Seatwave and Viagogo to display openly key facts to potential customers, including:

  • Their identity, particularly where they are selling tickets as a business;
  • The original face value of the tickets being sold;
  • The individual characteristics of the tickets being sold, such as the seat number or the booking reference, and;
  • Whether the terms and conditions on the ticket mean that it can be cancelled if the organisers find out it has been resold.

As someone who deals mainly with B2B events that are either free to attend or require significant marketing input I had not really given much thought to how tickets for major/popular events could sell out quite so quickly.  Reading a recent report from the BBC led me to think about the scale of the operation, and to ask whether this is a case of market abuse or commercial opportunism, and also to consider how event organisers manage their own ticket pricing policy and the potential for negative media when genuine fans are unable to get hold of tickets at face value, even when they are logging onto the relevant website the moment the tickets are released.

Ticket harvesting with sophisticated software and high-speed connections with multiple identities enables third party resellers to buy tickets quicker than an individual manually entering their details.  Genuine fans are consequently left with little choice to buy the flipped tickets at vastly inflated prices.  The difficulty for event organisers is that the speed at which this happens means that many potential ticket purchasers are unable to differentiate between the genuine organiser and the third party, consequently blaming the inflated prices on greedy promoters and performers.

The amendment was defeated in today’s debate, with the government arguing for self-regulation rather legislation.  The question remains as to the time scale and scope of this self-regulation, and consequently whether consumers will get a better deal or event promoters escape the accusation of vastly inflated ticket prices.

For more information and news on ticketing, check out The Ticketing Institute
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What’s your event planner personality?

Who’s who in events community member Gary Jesch shared this infographic with the group earlier this week which originated from the folks at Cvent.

My favourite quote is:

20% of event planners raise their fee for high maintenance clients

Really?  Only 20%…

You can have a go at the quiz yourself at crowdcompassquiz.com

cc_infographic_122914_72ppi

How to select the best ticketing tool for conferences or exhibitions

Today we feature a guest post from Michael Heipel.  Michael is an event and marketing consultant based in Germany and these are his thoughts.

In recent years, more and more systems for delegate management, registration, ticketing and payment have entered the market. With new developments in the mobile sphere and solutions like Apple Pay coming up, the advancements will continue. Time to take a closer look at what the various systems on the market have to offer, whichfeatures are available and what are the different pricing models and ranges.

Many event planners still use home-made solutions, but they realize that with the advanced requirements from the market side, these systems are causing more problems than solutions.

At the end of the day, collecting income from delegate or visitor entrance tickets is the core process for any successful event!

Further below, you’ll find an overview of what systems are on the market. But before we come to that, let’s take a look at what are the 10 most important decision criteriawhen selecting a vendor.

10 most important selection criteria for ticketing solutions

  1. What is the business model of the solution? The most important question is of course the pricing model of the software. Many vendors charge for a setup fee in combination with a percentage per ticket sale of the turnover, plus fees for the payment processing. While that may be easy to calculate for few events, it can become quite costly when you run many events per year and the setup costs or base fees are calculated per event. Also, be aware that there may be hidden costs like training or webinars.
  2. What are the costs for your hardware and connectivity on site? Even if the ticketing software is located in the cloud and the purchase and payment processes happen entirely online, you will need devices to register and check the tickets on site. The expenses for these devices can become significant when you are tied to one particular system. Also bear in mind the cost for connectivity unless you can run the on site process entirely on local servers.
  3. How easy is it to set up registration for an event? Every vendor will tell you that this is a piece of cake, but be aware that there are quite some differences in how easy the setup for registration pages really is, especially when you have complex events with numerous options for the delegate to choose from.  This will determine if you need to install 1-2 experts on your team or if more people will be able to set up new event registration pages.
  4. How is the usability from a participants point of view? People that have started a registration process are customers that are willing to buy. That step needs to be hassle-free , and that applies to all communications (email, text messages etc.) that come along with that process. Usability aspects also apply to the check-in process on site, which needs to be quick and easy, regardless of how the participant will identify themselves.
  5. Can you link the registration system to your existing CRM system? Whatever database you use for your customer relation management (Salesforce, SAP, MS CRM, Oracle-based systems etc.), it is important that your registration tool and the information that you gather there is mirrored in your CRM system. That is not always smooth sailing…
  6. Do you need just a ticketing solution or a full event website? In the first case, the solution will be embedded on your site. Some systems, however, can be expanded to offer a full event website with additional features. That can be quite interesting if you only organize few events per year.
  7. Does the system allow for badge scanning and lead capture? Particularly at trade shows, lead generation is the key performance indicator for exhibitors’ success. Systems that offer the option to scan badges without having to rent special equipment are clearly an asset (e.g. 2D barcodes, QR codes with participants contact information).
  8. Is the system mobile-ready? In the USA, mobile devices account already for more internet traffic than desktop computers, and other parts of the world will definitely follow that trend. There are two aspects to that: Will the participant be able to get a mobile ticket on their device (e.g. iOS Passbook integration, link in a text message)? Secondly, will the registration page be responsive to any sort of device that the potential customer is using?
  9. Does the system allow for social login? People have become used to being able to login online via their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or XING profiles, so that they don’t have to repeat basic information every time or upload pictures. While that may not be a deal breaker in case all other criteria are met for you, it is an add-on that may become more and more relevant.
  10. What kind of promotion options does the system offer? Promotion codes, loyalty programs, special offers and different pricings based on e.g. membership status are important tools to maximize the marketing impact for your event. Some systems offer viral ticketing and even affiliate programs where you can grant commissions for sales partners or other websites.

Overview of vendors on the market

Now this is a tricky one, because there are so many solutions out there…! Capterra lists 173 solutions! However, this is an attempt to give an overview of those that I find particularly relevant for conference and exhibition organizers.

Please feel free to add those that specialize on conferences and exhibitions in the comments section, I’ll be happy to include them in the list.

Listed in alphabetic order.

Bookitbee

Very easy to set up and providing a responsive registration page, Bookitbee is an interesting option for organizers that stage only few events and don’t want to go through the hassle of a complicated setup process.

bookitbee-example-event

Pricing: 0,75 EUR/ticket plus 2% service fee plus 3,4% credit card processing.

Website

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Brown Paper tickets

With this solution, there is no additional charge for credit card processing. So the cost is quite low overall. Also, it features a lot of customization, promotion and mobile options. Free iPhone and Android barcode scanning apps are provided for scanning at the doors.

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Pricing: 0,89 EUR per ticket plus 3,5% of ticket sales price

Website

Twitter

eReg / eTouches

The registration software eReg is part of a bigger software package. The options are quad, pro and plus+. The basic package quad also includes a tool to create an event microsite, a tool for email marketing and a survey tool.

Pricing: Upon request

Website

Twitter

eve.CheckIn

Primarily used by corporates like SAP, Vodafone, Hagebau, Volkswagen or Sony, eve is a delegate management software suite that also covers ticketing. The supplier is a subsidiary of Deutsche Messe AG called event it. Due to the structure of their clients, the software is highly customizable and can be adjusted to all kinds of requirements.

141020_-_Vodafone_-_Enterprise_Innovation_Tour_-_1

 

Pricing: Upon request

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Eventbrite

One of the biggest suppliers, Eventbrite is pretty strong in mobile apps for event registration and management. Having processed already more than 160 Mn event tickets worldwide, you can be pretty sure that there are experienced people at work! Check-in can be done via a mobile solution for the iPad.

about_tickets

 

Pricing (EURO-zone): 2,5% service fee plus 0,75 EUR/ticket plus 3,5% in case Eventbrite is used for payments, too.

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Fairmate by dimedis

This solution is tailored to the demands of trade show organizers, therefore you’ll find Reed Exhibitions, Messe Düsseldorf, Koelnmesse, Stockholmsmässan or Westfalenhallen Dortmund on their customer list. The registration part covers social login, online shop, mobile shop, voucher processing and of course a comprehensive on site check-in system.

Pricing: Upon request

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GrouponLIVE

Up to now, Groupon has been used primarily for concerts or sports events tickets – last minute sales. However, since October 2014, the daily deal platform has expanded it’s activities in the events business in Germany. They are of course not a ticketing software as such, but I know that the German association DLG have sold many tickets for their large exhibitions like Agritechnica via Groupon. It is an interesting option for conferences and trade shows, even though you need to give a significant discount on the official ticket price plus a commission for Groupon. The platform has also been used to offerVIP tickets to the New York Wine and Food Festival.

dealbuilder

Pricing: Upon request

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Livebuzz

This company provides event registration software, event websites, development consultancy and staffing services. They handle more than 1 Mn registrations per year. Special features are SocialBuzz (integrated social media marketing tools) and secure storage on Symantec servers. Livebuzz was used at EIBTM 2014 in Barcelona.

EIBTM 2014

Pricing: Upon request

Website

Twitter

Ticketscript

The key feature of Ticketscript is an on-the-door sales app called ticketscript box office. See more in the video below. Apart from that, it offers e- and mobile tickets, promo codes, and a fully customizable responsive online ticket shop.

Pricing: 1,50 EUR/ticket plus 3,5% to cover service and all payment methods

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Twitter

TicketSource

A long list of features, ticking boxes like Passbook integration, text ticket to mobile phone, print-at-home, unique 2D barcodes and much more. There is even a telephone box office service provided upon request.

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Pricing: 3,85% – 9,09% depending on the ticket price

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Ticket Tailor

A completely different pricing model is offered by this company: They charge a flat fee per month, depending on how many events you have on sale in parallel. Prices range from 18 EUR per month up to 115 EUR per month when you have up to 50 events on sale in parallel.ticket tailorPricing: see above

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WEEMSS

A special feature of this solution is that it offers the registration process in 40 languages and accepts more than 160 currencies with exchange rates updated hourly. The system also offers interesting features for event promotion, like conversion triggers (special short marketing messages displayed on the registration page).

Advanced_marketing_tools_3Pricing: 2,5% per ticket. Currently no payment processing, funds go directly to the organizer.

Website

Blog

XING Events

Also known as Amiando (before it was purchased by the social network XING), XING Events is  highly integrated in the Germany-based social channel, the number 1 business network for the German speaking markets. That makes it pretty interesting when you are active in those markets only. It allows set up of ticket shops both on XING and on Facebook. The function people2meet suggests interesting contacts, giving a delegate sustained benefit from an event participation.

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Pricing: 0,99 EUR/ticket plus 2,95% service fee plus 2,95% for payment processing

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Yapsody

An interesting solution for concerts and any kind of reserved seating events, Yapsody comes with mobile apps, an integration in MailChimp and social media channels, e-ticketing and a lot more. The option to give donations via the online store makes it interesting for non-profits, too.

Pricing: 0,75 EUR/ticket plus 2,5% service fee

Website

Twitter

To contact Michael, email Michael@CoCoSocial.de or follow him on Twitter @michaelheipel

 

When is a hybrid event not a hybrid event

hy·brid:  (hbrd) noun
a composite of mixed origin; a conceptual whole made up of complicated and related parts

As with the evolution of all new technologies it takes a little while for the terminology to settle down and become general use.  For the early adopters this can be an incredibly frustrating experience.  Why? Because we’ve already been part of the (extensive and believe me exhaustive) debate, discussion and intellectual tussle and just as we sign off on that particular topic, along come the newbies and start it all again.

So it is in the land of virtual/online/hybrid events.  As conference professionals and other interested organisations begin to understand that the technology isn’t going to go away; that rather than being frightening in its complexity the right solution can simplify marketing and communications; and that there are other people just like them creating very successful conferences and events; so does the supplier network.   The latter are not slow at getting on a successful bandwagon, and nor should they be, but never does caveat emptor apply more than in an emerging market.  Not least because you won’t get many chances to get this right with your audiences, and if you are billing something as a hybrid which falls in any way short of other experiences they may have had, your credibility will be questioned.

With hybrid events rapidly becoming flavour of the month, it is incredibly important that conference organisers are very clear about what constitutes a hybrid and what does not. So here’s a quick synopsis:

A hybrid event is NOT:
  • A recording of the event posted online two or three days afterwards; sorry but this is just an online post-event recording.
  • A live event with a Twitter feed running on a screen at an event; no – this is just an injection of social commentary into your live event
  • A selection of individual blogs, chatrooms and social media forums; aren’t these already essential parts of your integrated communications strategy?
  • A series of event photos; honestly…?

And if you are a purist you would also say:

  • A simultaneous stand-alone webcast; because this is a stand-alone webcast

Why are none of the above really hybrid events? Because they fundamentally miss the point.  A hybrid is something where two parts meld seamlessly together to form a unified whole.  A post-event recording doesn’t allow first-time viewers to participate in the debate; a twitter feed is a one-way stream of consciousness; and a standalone webcast does not allow the live and online audiences to interact with one another.

What a hybrid event IS:

  • An event where a technology solution is used to permit both a live and an online audience to view the same content at the same time. PLUS,
  • Where the online and live audiences can interact simultaneously with the speakers and other commentators via spoken questions and typed chat. AND,
  • Where the online and live audiences can interact with each other within the timeframe of the live event.

With the right technology solution, or blend of solutions the latter point could also be extended so that the conversation with the audience starts in advance of the live date(s), is developed with the input of relevant and well-informed experts and then continues post event.  What is imperative is that you, the conference or event organiser, create an environment, beit online, live or a hybrid of the two, where there is no barrier to integrated conversation and networking.

Hybrid events are delivering great results for organisations such as The Economist so they are there to be embraced.  Just make sure that when you step into the water you are taking the right equipment with you.

What did you expect?

ImageHaving recovered at last from all of the excitement of London2012 I am reminded of a comment made to me by one of my children at the end of last year. As I opened the envelope to reveal the results of recent exams I reacted with unbridled delight to the thinly veiled surprise of my son. “What did you expect Mum?” was his retort as he turned on his heels and went off to play football with a group of friends.

I’d like to think that everyone involved in that wonderful spectacle that took over our world for two weeks this August is reacting with similar insouciance.  Because after all, what exactly were we expecting?

The UK boasts (we’re not good at using that word) one of the world’s finest event and exhibition industries, packed with brilliantly creative employers, employees and freelancers, backed by exemplary technical expertise and sound health and safety practices.  Across the country there are thousands of students studying the intricacies of all aspects of event management and every day teams of hard-working and downright clever individuals are producing some form of festival, exhibition or meeting.  Year in, year out very talented people create mass events such as The Edinburgh Festival, Trooping of the Colour, Glastonbury, Glyndebourne, Goodwood etc*… with the odd Jubilee and Royal Wedding thrown in for good measure.  And if you have been to the West End recently and seen what a proficient and professional technical crew can create in what is a relatively small space then the wonderful sets at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be celebrated as a showcase of the mastery of this particular craft.

There are so many, many things to celebrate: our attention to detail (though I think David Brailsford has now set the bar just that little bit higher); our ability to create laughter and joy; our respect for every culture and idiosycracy (including our own); and just how good we are at events.

So go on: give yourselves a pat on the back; walk tall; talk yourself up; look the world in the eye and say:

“Of course it was great.  What did you expect?”

Hellen @missioncontrol

p.s. and a huge pat on the back to every athlete whether they were a medal winner or not, Katherine Grainger in particular.

* events that popped into my head at random

Using social media to market events

Once upon a time it was all so simple…

Providing you owned, could access or buy, good data and had the budget to hit your target universe five times on average with your message you could more or less guarantee an audience for your event.  For exhibition marketers, preregistration was a very clear indicator of footfall on the day, with conversion rates of between 60 and 75 per cent.  In the conference market a twelve week cycle of marketing would, possibly with the input of some telemarketing, produce enough registrations to cover costs and deliver that all important margin.

And then life got a whole lot more complicated…

The advent of online and email marketing brought with it a more instantateous way to talk to audiences. Unfortunately though, like a child gorging on the pick-and-mix, many marketers have abused the latter, flooding their database’s inboxes with messages on a far too regular basis. Others have treated their web presence as an online brochure, asking visitors to sign up for updates and news when in reality there would be none because noone factored in the time or resource for either the marketing or the main event team to curate such things.

Into this already crowded, and rowdy, room marches social media…

It’s like a toddlers tea-party.  You want to make yourself heard above the cacophony: so you shout louder; you run hither and thither until it seems you are everywhere at once; you wear the gaudiest outfit because you think it will make you stand out; and you try everything, briefly. But when you leave you are hoarse, tired and, if the truth be told, you didn’t actually get very much done or make much of an impression because you were just one of a group of over-excited, slightly out of control children in inappropriate clothing.

For event marketers, the biggest problem is that the promotional cycle for an exhibition, conference, awards etc. is actually very short; very rarely does the campaign last for more than four months. This really doesn’t lend itself very well to social media because relationships in places such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and long lists of followers in Twitter aren’t built overnight, and if you want to establish a well-read blog then there is no point starting it ten weeks out from your show. And if you stop talking to your audience, they lose interest and go somewhere else.

Let’s look at two examples, both expos with conferences and seminar programmes attached and a technology bias, though not IT events as such, and with similar attendance figures at their live days:

Our first event takes place annually in February.  They have a LinkedIn group which was established in January 2008 – a month before that year’s event.  It’s growth profile looks like this:

While the group shows a steady growth in membership over the last four years, it is interesting to note that there are identifiable spikes in the number of new memberships in February of each year., i.e. when the event happens.  Just three weeks later both increase in membership and activity, as shown in the chart below have fallen dramatically.

In contrast, the second team have created a LinkedIn group which began life based around their event (which takes place in March) but has been nurtured and developed to deliver to the expo’s existing and potential audience all year around.  The group was established in December 2007, four months before the event was scheduled and their growth and activity profiles look like this:

As with all statistics you can look at these two sets of information in a number of different ways, but at face value the contrast is clear.  One team started earlier and kept the momentum going whereas another only focusses their effort in the final push towards the event.  The groups have been around for approximately the same amount of time, yet one has nearly six times the number of members as the other and is showing a positive growth pattern.  One team is clearly putting the time and effort into creating a community that isn’t abandoned as soon as the last speaker has left the building…

Utilities like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. aren’t just another medium into which information can be lobbed out to the target audience in the same old way.  Think about it: you strive for coverage in relevant magazines and industry journals because you want your product to appear in an environment that has kudos and stature.  This is delivered by the editorial content created by the teams that manage those media.  If you want to do the same thing via LinkedIn etc. then you have to create an editorial and community environment that makes your potential audience want to interact with you.

To deliver real ROI and marketing with impact for your event you can’t just dip in and out of social media, ignoring your audience for 11 months of the year and then shouting at them for four weeks before you want them to attend.  You need to spend time getting to know them, finding out how to work with the community you have created via your exhibition, conference or roadshow.  Remember, they sought you out and it is up to you to make them stay.

missioncontrol @purerocketscience

p.s. If you want to find out more about creating social media strategies that work for events, our colleague Hellen Beveridge will be teaching a series of courses over the next few months.  Visit www.gallusevents.co.uk/our-events/ for more information.