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A guide to pricing for online ticketing

In this article we breakdown how fees are charged and warn of some of the common pitfalls

a pink background with black text about guide to pricing for online ticketing and price tags

Ticket platform pricing can be a minefield, and the consequences for your events budget can be significant. Whether you are running a charity event and it means less money going to a good cause, or a music festival and it means budget for one less artist, it’s an important decision!

In this blog we breakdown how fees are charged and warn of some of the common pitfalls.

So let’s start with the basics. All ticketing fees are made up of 2 costs:

  • The ticketing platform – this is the fee you pay to use the ticketing software, publish your box office and get customer support. It could range from a flat fee of $0.65, up to a % fee that could cost you $20 per ticket. On 5,000 tickets that’s a $96,750 price difference!
  • Payment processing fee – this is the fee that PayPal, Stripe, Square etc charge to process the transaction and is usually a mixture of a fixed fee + a % fee. It’s charged per transaction and not per ticket.

Generally speaking the advertised price is just referencing the ticketing platform fee and then the payment processing fee is added on top separately. In this instance, the payment processing fee is usually passed directly on and there is no mark-up taken by the ticketing platform.

Be cautious of companies that bundle both of these costs together into one overall per ticket cost (e.g. Eventbrite in the UK is £0.49 + 6.5%, with payment processing fee included). At first glance the simplicity is appealing. However, this means:

  • You don’t know how much your processing fee is costing you and there may be a big mark-up included
  • You will pay processing fees per every ticket and not per transaction
  • They are likely to default you to their own payment processing provider as opposed to more globally recognised brands like Paypal, Stripe or Square
  • Using their own payment provider means the money is in their bank account and they can control payouts
  • It will make it difficult to compare like-for-like and find the best deal

Now we know what you’re paying for, let’s take a closer look at the fees themselves…

The ticket platform fee

As we said above, this is the cost that covers the technical team who develop the platform, the hosting and running of your box office, customer support for answering all your questions and the marketing to find new customers. All of that is included for as little as $0.65 per ticket! However, you’ll find vast differences in prices, often hidden because they are presented in a variety of ways. So here’s a breakdown on the types of pricing structures:

  • A flat fee per ticket (e.g. Ticket Tailor £0.50, $0.65, €0.60) – this keeps things simple and allows you simple budgeting. Particularly good value if you have higher ticket prices that won’t be affected by % pricing.
  • A percentage per ticket  – this pricing is also simple, but be careful as these fees can offer end up being $20 per ticket for higher priced tickets
  • A flat fee plus percentage (e.g. Eventbrite US 3.5% + $1.59) – these types of fees put all the benefit on the ticketing company and very little benefit for the event organiser. They also make it more complicated to calculate your costs.

Since payment processing fees are usually fairly constant across platforms – the ticket platform fee is what you should take most interest in. This fee is one of the key reasons event organisers look for an Eventbrite alternative.

Start selling tickets with the lowest cost ticketing platform >

The payment processing fee

The fee for processing the transaction is often as much as the ticketing fee itself, but there is far less variation between platforms as most companies just pass the fee straight on to the event organiser.

First, you need to decide which payment processor to use. Stripe, Paypal and Square are the best known providers around the world, but you may have a local alternative that suits your customers better. You can often link more than one processor to your box office and ensure the best possible coverage.

The best way to understand the fee you’ll end up paying is reviewing their own pricing pages:

As an example Stripe in the UK charges 1.4% plus £0.20 per transaction. So a customer who buys 1x £10 ticket the processing fee is £0.34. If a customer were to buy 3x £10 tickets in one transaction then the processing fee would be £0.62 or £0.206 per ticket (one charge of £0.20 plus £30 x 1.4%).

Fees change dependent on where your account is based and where the ticket buyer is purchasing from, so it can get complicated. However, given most events sell to customers in the country they are based in, it should be easy enough to work out.

Do I have to pay these fees or can I get the customer to cover the costs?

Great question!

Yes, it’s true that most platforms offer you the choice of passing all the fees on to the customer by adding a transaction or booking fee.

So if you have a $10 ticket with $2 in ticketing and payment processing fees you could add this on to your ticket price as a booking fee and charge the customer $12 ($10 + $2). This means that after all costs have been deducted you still end up with $10! Magic! Some particularly savvy event organisers go further and add larger booking fees and pocket the profit (e.g. $10 + $5), but we’ll leave that decision down to you – high booking fees have had some bad press over the years!

When do I have to pay and when do I receive my money?

This all depends on the payment processor you use.

If you’re using Stripe, Paypal or Square then they’ll usually automatically deduct their transaction fees and the fees of the ticketing platform – leaving you with the net ticket fee that you get to keep. You should see this in your Stripe/Paypal/Square account almost immediately once a customer has purchased a ticket – but it may take a week or so until it’s available for you to transfer into your bank account.

Some “own brand” payment processors are a little less flexible. For example, Eventbrite doesn’t payout until after the event, similarly Ticket Source payout the Monday after your event. This means you may not be able to access thousands in ticket sales until after the event – if this has implications for your cash flow then it’s something you should carefully consider.

Tip: Find out how you get paid for ticket sold when you sell tickets online with Ticket Tailor.

Not quite sure what to charge your attendees?

Deciding which ticketing platform you use can help you determine how price your tickets. When you know exactly what fees you’ll be paying, you can factor this into your calculations for making a profit while still making sure your tickets are at an appealing price point for customers.

Having said that – deciding what to charge isn’t always easy. Especially when things like the cost of living crisis mean both you and your customers may not have as much financial leeway as usual. With that in mind, you might find these resources useful:

Also, check out these handy features which may make things more manageable for both you and your customers:

That’s a wrap

Hopefully this blog has helped you understand ticketing pricing slightly better and answered some of your questions! You can check out more about Ticket Tailor’s pricing here.

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