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Helpful Hints for Choosing a Ticket Sales Software System

These days it is commonly expected that even small performing arts or non profit organizations will not only offer up to date listings of their events on their web site, but will also offer the ability to purchase tickets online.

Undoubtedly a lot of small to medium organizations, colleges, schools and non profit organizations may think that ticket sales software is well beyond their budget. In actual fact, there is now a significant number of companies offering ticket sales software which is both affordable,easy to set up and to use. In fact it is quite likely that one of the main hurdles faced by organizations seeking to upgrade their box office ticketing operations is deciding what type of ticket sales software would best suit their needs.

So let’s take a look at a few specific features of ticketing software systems which should be a priority when selecting the best system to use.

Online ticket sales capability

The main reason for considering an upgrade to a new ticket sales software system is undoubtedly to give your customers the option of purchasing tickets to your events directly from your website, and to simplify your existing box office operations whereby both your online and offline ticket sales are combined into a single tightly integrated system. The best systems will allow you to choose seats directly from an interactive seating chart – to select the seats they require from a realistic representation of the venue auditorium and not just a best available method where there is no customer control in the seat selection process.

Ticket sales outlets

Do you plan to sell tickets only through your own box office (and online) or you maybe now or in the future do you plan to sell tickets via agents, ticket outlets or maybe from your own home? If so, a Web-based ticket sales software system rather a than a software system installed on your PC is probably be better choice since it generally enables tickets to be sold from any number of outlets, anywhere in the world where you have an Internet connection.

Print at home tickets

Many customers these days prefer the ease and convenience of printing their tickets at home when purchase tickets online. But to prevent fraud or copying of tickets, you need to have some means to validate tickets at the entrance to your events. The most common way of dealing with this is to print bar codes on all PDF tickets which can then be scanned at the entrance to your venue with a hand held scanner attached to a computer. Alternatively with some systems you may be able to send an email to your customer which contains a voucher. The customer then exchanges this voucher at the venue for the numbered tickets.

Payment processing

Online ticket sales software should always have the ability to process credit card payments. You must check if your current payment gateway is supported by your chosen software, or if not, whether it can be easily be integrated into their system. Alternatively you may be required to use the software provider’s service to process all credit card payments. With the latter, the ticket software company will generally charge a fee for handling credit card payments and furthermore, the ticket revenue may only be transferred to your bank account on a monthly basis or only after the event concerned has been held.

Customer records

A customer database is the heart of any ticket sales software system. Its essential that the database has an adequate number of fields to record as much detail as relevant about the customer which can then be used for marketing purposes and maintaining good customer relationships. Preferably you should be able to send emails direct from your database informing customers of upcoming events etc. Additionally it should have the ability to send out customised letters or at the very least print out address labels. Some box office systems may offer the ability to actively manage donations and pledges, to set up campaigns or to accept donations at the time of a ticket purchase.

Attendance and Financial Reports

Live and detailed reports on attendance, transactions and other financial details are an essential component of any ticket sales software. It should also be easy to access reports on-the-fly and ideally y you should have the ability to see detailed information about any particular sold ticket including who purchased the ticket, the price they paid, the date that the ticket was purchased, who sold the ticket as a minimum simply by clicking on any seat on your seating chart.

Ticket printing

Specialised thermal ticket printers such as those produced by Boca Systems or Data Automation are certainly ideal choice for printing admission tickets but the price of these printers can be quite high. Fortunately many systems offer the ability to print tickets with common inkjet or laser printers. With the actual tickets, you need to be able to customize the layout and choose which elements do or do not appear on the ticket – at the very least including the ability to add logos, images and one or two additional lines of text

Season or subscription tickets

If you offer subscription packages or season tickets, your ticket sales software must be able to handle this type of ticket competently. Whilst some ticket software systems will provide the capability to create individual subscription series from a list of events, others may only allow subscribers to select from a number of pre-set packages. Some ticket software systems include the ability to roll over season subscriptions from one season to the next. Rolled over subscriptions are generally recorded initially as reservations which the customer must confirm by a certain date including making payment, or else the tickets are returned to the system for sale to other customers.

Gift vouchers and Flex Passes

If your organization sells stored value gift cards or passes, make sure your ticket sales software system includes this capability. Such cards can normally be programmed to set validity for a specified date range, or a specified range of events.

Ease of use

If you have multiple ticket sellers, you’ll want your chosen ticket sales software to have a logical administration interface and be easy to operate by all users without requiring days of training and maybe even switch between different languages. But the only realistic means of evaluating a system is to request a trial or a demonstration version of the software. Of course you’ll also want comprehensive operational manuals, preferably which can also be accessed online.

Customer Support

Ticket sales software is quite complex so it is very likely you will require some degree of customer support from time to time. Ensure that the software provider you choose has the capability of providing adequate and rapid support by telephone or email. If possible you should check that the ticketing company has a policy of constant improvements and upgrades so your system does not become technologically out of date.

The above provides a summary of the main features you should take into consideration when shopping for a ticket sales software system for your venue or organization. A good starting point in selecting a new software system is to write down a list of features that you feel are essential then try to match these with ticketing software systems that are available.

About the Author

Malcolm Kay is the Chief Executive of HandyTix, a supplier of box office ticketing systems for arts and sports venues worldwide. For more help in choosing a ticket sales software system, click the link here to downloaded a free guide.