How to select the best ticketing tool for conferences or exhibitions

How to select the best ticketing tool for conferences or exhibitions
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, which features are ...

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, which features 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 criteria when 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). In addition, it is relevant to take a look at the networking capabilities that the system provides for matchmaking between visitors or visitors and exhibitors. Mostly, though, this will be an additional feature or an additional app.
  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.

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

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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

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Converve

In essence, this is actually a B2B matchmaking and networking tool. However, the Converve solution also provides registration and payment features. With an open API it is quite flexible to integrate with a lot of existing systems. Delegates can set up personalized one-on-one meetings via the platform.

Pricing: Upon request

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 offer VIP 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

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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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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.

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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

Source: michaelheipel.wordpress.com