The best way to sell charity event tickets

Why use Ticket Tailor?

Charities were some of Ticket Tailor's earliest clients, and we still get warm and fuzzy thinking about how much money we've saved them on ticket fees. In fact, we still offer a 30% discount for registered charities because we're committed to providing the best value for money that we possibly can.

Looking for a reliable, effective and low-cost option for ticket sales?

Most online ticketing services will charge you a flat fee plus a percentage of each ticket's price. And that can be cost-effective... sometimes. But not often - and that's why we like to do things a little differently.

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Because we did the math...

And you're probably being charged too much. Most of the time it actually makes more sense to pay $25 (the cost of one cheap ticket) and then be able to sell as many tickets as you like for a month, instead of paying a fee for each successful sale.

grateful-262x300That goes double if you're running a reasonably large event or selling expensive tickets. Charities have a hard time using traditional ticket services; the money from customer purchases should be going towards a good cause, so the lost slice of each sale has direct repercussions.

Many companies actually market this charging method as "free ticketing" - in fact, the relatively high costs are simply being passed on to the customer.

Ticket Tailor began with a relatively simple idea: Sell as many tickets as you like and pay a flat monthly fee for each event you're running.

Suddenly charity balls, school events and donation drives don't lose 2.5% plus change on every ticket. And we've helped pass on these significant savings to charities like the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the Stroke Recovery Fund and Student Pride UK.

Sound good so far?

Well don't take out word for it - sign up for a free account and try it out. Or check out our features list. We make it easy to sell tickets directly from your site, so there'll be no need to transfer potential customers away to another address. Just drop our ticketing widget onto one of your pages and you can start selling tickets immediately.

We believe in being honest and straightforward with pricing; you won't be asked for a cent until you actually sell a ticket. There are also no contracts or hidden fees, just a chap behind a desk who'll politely ask you to pay after you make your first sale. And when you're done and want to stop selling tickets, you can turn off your subscription just like that. We'll even credit the remainder of the month in store credit if you close sales early. Can't say fairer than that!

“Ticket Tailor saved us a lot of money and a lot of time this year. National Student Pride 2015 was our hugely popular 10th anniversary, and, as most students will tell you, it went brilliantly.”

Tom Guy – President: National Student Pride

“Ticket Tailor makes it quick and easy to sell tickets online. The customer service is great, they don’t take a cut on each transaction, and there’s 30% off their monthly plans for charities. All round a great service for PTA events.”

Tanja Kent Collis Primary School PTA

5 Reasons to Ditch the Cash for Your Next PTA Fundraiser

There’s more to online ticketing than just intrinsic convenience - especially for schools and parent-teacher associations, when time, energy and funding are already at a premium. In the same way that email has more or less superseded letter writing, the use of self-service ticketing has generally replaced the physical box office for event booking. This hasn’t happened by chance either. The ability to sell tickets online has brought a wealth of advantages to what was once a lengthy and sometimes haphazard task for organisers as well as customers. It might not be obvious at first glance, but using an online ticketing service for fundraising events is actually a pretty neat idea.

Setting the scene

Let’s imagine a school fair, organised to raise money for a bursary scheme or to improve a library’s book selection. Kids will love it, but actually making the fair run is a burden for parents and organisers alike, not least because of one particular irritation: physical cash.

Cash is a pain. It’s a pain to carry around, but you’ll need it to pay for activities and to make change at stalls. Cash also needs supervision; it can get lost, it can be stolen, and, worst of all, it has to be properly managed and banked at the end of the day.

Now let’s imagine what would happen if you ditched cash altogether, and sold tickets (or coupons) for individual stalls before the event. On the day you issue buyers with a chit listing their total coupons and cross one off after each activity. Or you can hand out coupons to each purchaser based on how many tickets they've bought, and each stall or activity provider can take their due during the event!

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The result?

  1. You won’t need to fiddle around with cash

You won’t need to allocate cash floats for each stall. Children and their parents don’t have to look for change machines, or worry that they have enough money with them. There will be no need to collect and carry that money to the bank at the end of the day.

  1. You won’t need as much security

The days of worrying about thieves or unattended cash going missing are gone. Attendees have paid online by card and the money is already in the PTA’s PayPal account. If the money had to be counted, you also wouldn’t need to assign observers to make sure it was all there. Except...

  1. You don’t need to count money

Because you’ve taken advantage of the wonders of e-commerce and computing power. In fact, you know how much you’ve made before the fair has even started. And what’s more…

  1. You know where that money came from

Yup. Thanks to the marvel of analytics, you’ll be able to see who bought what and when. Instead of having to figure out which stalls at the fair were a success and which weren’t (by painstakingly counting their takings), you can look at a graph.

  1. You can automate administration

You won’t have planned on mailing out tickets or estimating attendees - and you'll never have to. Customisable emails are sent out automatically right after each purchase is made, complete with useful reminders (“We begin packing up at 7pm”). You’ll even be provided with a check-in list filled with attendees’ details and purchases, ready for printing and distribution.

And so...

If you do decide that an online ticketing system makes sense for your next PTA event, we’d humbly submit that Ticket Tailor is an especially good fit. That’s because we don’t take commission or per-ticket fees, meaning that you won’t lose a percentage of each ticket sold. You can find out more about our pricing here, or if you’d like to chat about the services we offer, just write to hi@tickettailor.com.

Selling tickets on your site (with widgets!)

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Ticket Tailor lets you sell tickets directly from your website using our widgets. It might be blindingly obvious why this is a pretty nifty feature, but just in case it's not, here are three reasons why widgets are the way forward for ticket sales.

Customers will stay on your site for longer

Which is always a good thing.

If you've spent time putting together an attractive website then the last thing you want to do is send visitors somewhere else to buy tickets. You want them to stay, read the content, enjoy your carefully selected images and hopefully come back sometime in the future. What you don't want to be is a 5 second stop-over before a redirect to another events site.

You're not competing with anyone else

All the events on your website are your events.

That sounds pretty obvious, but if you sell tickets by redirecting customers to a different site that also lists similar events, you're feeding potential sales to competitors. That's either very charitable or the event organizer's version of Hard Mode.

You're offering a clean and professional buying experience

Because our widget looks good, so you will too!

Yeah, I said it. But let's be frank: nothing says 'event pro' like taking payments and issuing tickets by yourself. Third party middle-men are useful, but they're hardly ideal - especially when it comes to ticket fees. And by the way, our widget works on any HTML site including WordPress, Wix and Squarespace.

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8 benchmark WordPress themes for ticketed events

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How important is event presentation?

Very. Until your attendees actually arrive, the only information they have to go on - aside from word of mouth - is the information you provide. Presentation is key, but not all themes are suitable for every kind of event. That’s why we’ve put together a showcase of the best 'standards' in each category.

All of these are responsive, mobile-ready designs that work well with the Ticket Tailor WordPress plugin

Khore - Conference & Exhibition

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Khore is an advanced conference and exhibition theme that's designed to look fantastic on mobiles. It's clean, clear and attractive, and comes with a host of features including schedule and session management, online ticket sales, maps, a countdown clock and 8 different language translations.  If you're looking for a flexible and responsive event theme that caters to mobile users, you're unlikely to do better than Khore.

Event Builder - Directory

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Event Builder is a customisable events directory that lets other users add their events to your own choice of categories. It supports maps and forms, pricing plan creation, custom filters, and a vast array of templates, colours and pages. It's compatible with Mailchimp, and users can seamlessly sell tickets to their events from the site itself, using the Ticket Tailor WordPress plugin. Backed by expert designers, Event Builder is intended to be the most universal directory theme around.

Soundboard - Bands & Artists

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Soundboard looks brilliant and works like its namesake, effortlessly amplifying your music, brand and aspirations to reach a wider audience. It's easy to get running and simple to use, but offers a wide range of customisation options and display features. This theme includes support for upcoming tour dates, tour management, pictures and videos. It is also JW Player ready, and has some of the fastest and most helpful support around.

Biosphere - Charity & Environment

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Biosphere is a fresh, honest and colourful theme that works well for any number of charitable causes. The homepage is modular and contains a variety of event management and social media options. Donations can also be taken through the site and the theme is  BuddyPress ready, with support for other language translations.

Universe - Schools & Education

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Universe is an ideal theme for scholastic institutes, from universities and schools to educational workshops and events. Like other featured themes, this one is fully responsive, but its also especially easy to customise thanks to its very clear presentation and widgetised homepage. With googlemaps and Mailchimp integration, several predefined skins and detailed documentation, educators can't go wrong with this theme.

Gameplan - Gym & Sports

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Gameplan has won several awards, and for good reason. It has a drag and drop page builder, excellent event calendar and tons of customisation options. Elements can also be quickly and easily added to the theme via more than 44 shortcodes, and it looks great on mobile and Retina displays.

LEARN - Courses & Workshops

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LEARN is for anyone who wants to arrange, market and sell courses or workshops online. Aside from several homepages, an event calendar and teacher profiles, it also includes a login and registration system for attendees. There are plenty of customisation options to play with, lots of extra content pages and at $16, this theme is extremely affordable.

Mercurial - Festivals & Events

mercurialMercurial is a great one page theme for any kind of recurring event or festival. Seamless parallax scrolling, 17 shortcodes and plenty of customisation options make it quick and easy to set up your webpage. Ideal for festivals and image-heavy events, this theme's presentation style is persuasive and bold, making it excellent for online ticket sales.

5 Mistakes that the best event organisers never make

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...and how to avoid them!

You'd never make any of these blunders, but you probably know someone who has. Or not, in which case you may be some sort of Event Planning God, possibly waited on by a clique of minor but equally flawless venue deities.

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#EPG anyone?

1. Sales – Using discounts and coupon codes (badly)

Are guests buying tickets for your event? Early bird discounts are all well and good, but remember that you’re cutting into your profit margin for each discounted ticket sold. Always make sure you know where that money is going and what you're getting in return. Discounts are best used strategically:

  •  To compete with other similar businesses in a similar market

Coupon codes make sense when you want to undercut the competition. Make it clear that they’re available for a limited time only – this adds urgency to the purchase process and encourages unsure ticket buyers.

  • To track where your ticket sales are coming from and optimize your marketing efforts

Use different discount codes for each marketing campaign. When your event is finished, dedicate some time to understanding what worked and what didn’t. Keep using this strategy and you’ll eventually narrow down the most productive avenues to sell tickets for your particular event.

  • To reward and engage clients and customers

If customers learn to expect regular discounts then you’ve basically succeeded in undercutting yourself. Be sparing with them and you can reward loyal fans or promote your event through partners with exclusive offers. As a customer, even 10-15% off can feel like a lot more when you know other people aren’t getting it.

  • To close sales with longer term customers

But not all customers. Make sure you’ve figured out the ROI for your tickets, especially before you start handing out significant discounts. Be aware that larger price cuts can have a negative impact on your brand; make them too high and you run the risk of looking desperate or having customers think that there’s something wrong with your product.

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2. Resource allocation – Problems with space and time

You might have good speakers and exhibitors, but that won’t mean much if you haven’t given them the right rooms.

It's vital to know which aspects of your event are likely to attract the largest audiences. You can then make sure that the allocated space is suitably sized. Be sure to pay attention to acoustics and check that your AV systems are up to scratch.

Similarly, giving a large room to someone doing a very niche presentation is usually a mistake; semi-deserted conference halls are embarrassing for speakers and depressing for attendees.

Of course, that’s not to say that every aspect of your event needs to draw large crowds. A small, engaged group in an appropriately sized room can create the sort of intimacy that makes a conference particularly memorable.

All right, so you’ve got rooms sorted.

If you've booked speakers, have you allocated their time slots appropriately? Obviously you’ve margined for introductions – I’m talking about different periods in the day. A few things to think about:

Will audiences be ready for the first speaker and are late arrivals likely?

It can be a good idea to have some key ideas presented when energy and attention levels are highest. On the other hand, you don’t want an important presentation to start late and run-on because you’re waiting for stragglers.

Who have you got speaking before and after lunch?

The first slot is problematic because attendees are getting hungry and will be figuring out who they’re going to meet up with. During the second, guests may be sleepy, tipsy or still busy talking to colleagues and customers.

What’s your final presentation?

Ending the conference on a high note is clearly ideal, but attendees are likely to be tired and ready to go home. Whether it’s worth saving one of the best for last is a difficult decision that depends on experience and an understanding of each particular audience.

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3. Engagement – Social media gone wrong

Social media is incredibly useful from an organiser’s perspective, but that doesn’t mean you need to be everywhere at once. In fact, pushing engagement too hard can have entirely the opposite effect. It’s also much more difficult to produce quality content and cultivate a friendly atmosphere if you’re attempting to do it all across multiple platforms.

Instead, pick one or two social media channels and use those exclusively.

Talk to people, connect with them and you’ll not only find the whole process more interesting and rewarding, but also easier to keep up.

Encouraging attendees to use social media at events is vital, although yet again there is such a thing as excessive engagement. “Engagement” in this sense is a bit of a misnomer, since it usually equates to something like twomiting. Observations and experiences are valuable; a continual echo of what the speaker said 10 seconds ago is not.

You can take steps to prevent social media abuse in several ways - one is to livestream the event.

This will often garner interest by itself, but it also makes Twomit-like updates fairly pointless. Similarly, having a twitter stream in front of your audience will make guests think for longer about what they want to say. A twitter stream can also be quite a lot of fun and it encourages the kind of questions that some attendees may be unwilling to ask out loud.

At the other end of social media gone wrong is its absence; from whence storytelling and light-hearted banter should emanate, there is only silence.

And a gaping void of missed opportunity. Do yourself a favour and be active on at least one social media avenue. It’s not difficult and it’s certainly worthwhile - unless you really don’t care what anyone else thinks!

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4. Facilities – Failure to accommodate

No, not the requests of the speakers or the buffet preferences of the client – we're talking about everything, including your attendees!

First off, make sure you have fantastically obvious signage.

You might know where everything is located but try to imagine that you've never been to the venue before. Does the layout make sense?  In general, but especially if you’re using volunteers, there also needs to be a place for staff to take breaks and leave personal items that’s suitably hidden from attendees.

But wait! There's more:

Is the entrance to the venue clearly marked? Where are guests going to park? Will they have coats and bags to drop off? How about wet umbrellas? Are the bathrooms spotless? Will they be kept spotless?

These are the sort of questions that tend to escape notice amongst all the other high priority tasks that need doing. But they are important, albeit fairly basic, concerns.

And what if things go wrong?

Event planners are fond of quoting Murphy’s law – “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” – even though it’s only slightly less naff than the nonsensical imperative to “expect the unexpected”. The real take-home message is simply this: spend some time thinking about the kinds of problems you might encounter during the event. Create a back-up plan for those eventualities and you won’t disappoint guests or look unprofessional if they do come to pass.

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5. Concluding gracefully – Not following up

Done thanking everyone?

Great, now you need to follow up.

The show might have ended, but it’ll still be fresh in the minds of your guests for a little while longer (one hopes). Keep in contact via social media. Be sure to ask for feedback and testimonials. Create a write-up with some pictures and highlights of the event to send out during the following week.

This is also a good time to advertise your services for future events.

This is especially true if attendees left on a positive note and felt like they got their money’s worth. How you choose to do this is fairly case dependent, but it’s a good idea to personalise your follow up marketing and find a reason to contact potential clients that isn’t just about the sale.

Finally, you should set aside time to reflect on the event itself.

Take five to think about what went particularly well and what could have been done better. Be sure to talk to your staff and address any concerns that they may have. The results of this process will be useful for planning, budgeting and timing in the future, and can serve as a jumping-off point for the next iteration of a recurring event.

Sell tickets free!

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When you search for "Sell tickets free" online you get a whole load of companies all saying "Our service is free". But dig a little deeper and you'll find that what they really mean is that they will pass their fees on to your customers in the form of booking fees. If you tot up these fees, you will see that they amount to rather a lot of money.

Sell tickets free Some ticket agencies claim their service is free, but it's not as simple as that.

So the customer ends up paying more to go to your event, but this is costing you money too. Without these booking fees, you could have charged your customer more for a ticket, pocketing the extra £1 or £2 that normally goes to the ticketing agency yourself. Alternatively, you could have made your event cheaper for your customer and, in doing so, attracted more customers.

At Ticket Tailor we charge no booking fees. We ask for a low monthly fee instead, and there are no contracts or minimum-commitment required (see our pricing page). In addition, you can sign up, set up your box office and start selling tickets for free; we will only ask you to start paying when you make your first sale.

Cheaper than free!

Eh? How can you be cheaper than free? Well, we have a neat little trick. We allow you to set and keep your own booking fee on ticket sales (this is totally optional). So, you could charge £10 for a ticket and add on a £1 booking fee, and we don't take any of that and it will more than cover your payment processing fees with PayPal or Stripe.

We think this is a much fairer way to do it.