Online ticketing services for museums – Overview

You can allocate free or paid-for tickets to your museum events quickly and easily using a variety of general online ticketing services. This resource gives you a quick overview of the common considerations when using online ticketing services as a museum as well as a summary of the common platforms that are available (as at March 2018) and some top tips to consider.

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Using online ticketing services | Common Platforms| Top tips

Using online ticketing services

Selling tickets

Online ticketing services allow you to create a virtual box office to either allocate free or paid-for tickets to your events quickly and easily.  An event can be free to attend, but whether you need to sell tickets or not, in a matter of minutes an online ticketing service will let you organise and control everything you need, including the number of tickets you are offering, how many you want to allocate at a time, even setting up seating plans, discounts for students, early birds or elaborate VIP packages.

Connecting with other platforms

They are now very user-friendly and interact really well with a museum’s social media or email newsletter platforms (e.g. Mailchimp); this means you can add Twitter or Facebook buttons to your online events in order to share details with a wider network, or send out email newsletters to attendees, to really get the most out of promoting and marketing your events and various offers.

Where to access and use them

You can use an online ticketing service by going directly to its website or it can be embedded on your own website, or even downloaded via an app, depending on which one you decide to use.

There are also software ticketing companies that offer completely bespoke services, designed especially for your needs.

Using mobile apps

Ticketing services are really evolving.  Some now have a downloadable app which lets your customer show and scan an electronic ticket (“e-ticket”) or a barcode on their mobile on arrival, rather than issuing a printed ticket. This reduces paper printing and makes the service more environmentally friendly. Not only does a mobile app allow you, as the organiser, to scan tickets at the door but it can help you gain a quick overview of guests, sales, statistics and numbers.

Payments

Other options to think about are whether you want to be paid in advance of your event, or after it has finished.  You can also choose to pass on the fees to your customer or absorb them in the ticket price.  Some services provide a handy revenue calculator, useful when producing budgets.

Fundraising

Some online ticketing services also have a wide variety of other uses including fundraising; not only can your customers buy a ticket to a one-off event, but at the same time they can pay their entrance fee, give your museum a donation, allow you to claim Gift Aid on their purchase, log into a silent auction or buy an annual membership.

Language

Some services are now also available to use in different languages, including French, Polish, Dutch and Spanish.

Analytics

Once your event is over, it’s important to look at your statistics.  Some services can now be integrated with Google Analytics to learn more about your guests, or issuing you with reports and data which will help you plan your next event.

Widening reach

Any or all of these services are available widely, depending on which ticketing organisation you opt for, and as museums start to look at using your space as a venue or entertainment location, online ticketing services can help spread the word and increase visitor numbers and revenue.

Common Platforms

Every event is different so it’s worth familiarising yourself with different ticketing platforms and using the one that best suits your purpose.  More importantly, always keep your event goals in mind – think about what goals you want your event to achieve, and then find a ticketing service that will help you achieve them.

The main ticketing service in widest use is Eventbrite which lists thousands of events daily from free entry tiny community events to major trade conferences world-wide. However, with their recent increased fees there is now more competition from other services. Common online ticketing platforms (as at March 2018) are:

Billetto  – (used for some events at National Gallery, British Museum, Brunel Museum, Burgh House)

Brown Paper Tickets – (used by Margate Museum, Huguenot Museum)

Eventbrite – (used by many – from the British Museum and V&A, Imperial War and NHM to Richmond and Freud, Torquay and Chelmsford, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds)

Skiddle – (used by Charnwood Museum, Loughborough, The Historic Dockyards at Chatham)

Ticketlab – (used by Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth)

TicketTailor – (used by Time Out)

TicketSource – (used by Great North Museum, Hancock Barras Bridge, Discovery Museum, Newcastle, Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds)

Universe – (used by The Great Escape Festival, Brighton)

WeGotTickets – (used by Brunel Museum, Ulster Museum)

Top Tips – The Magnificent Seven!

  1. Post a simple event first, to help build your confidence.
  2. Find a user-friendly service that suits the event you are promoting; go for an easy-to-use ticketing service first rather than ‘whistles and bells’, especially if you need everyone in the office to help out, as it may save you time in the long run.
  3. Check the fees you are being charged from the outset. A ticketing service with a revenue calculator can be handy for this.
    NB: As of 13 January 2018, ticketing services aren’t allowed to add card payment surcharges or separate payment processing fees. Make sure you know what you’re paying for.
  4. As your confidence grows, look at adding on more services. You could allocate particular seating, use a mobile app or set up monthly client subscriptions.
  5. Increase revenue by shopping around for enhanced services, such as adding charitable donations and Gift Aid payments.
  6. Think about your post-event analysis: some ticketing services will send out questionnaires to your customers, and give you comprehensive reports to check ticketing and customer statistics – decide if this is something you need.
  7. Above all, decide what you want the service to do and what sort of event you are selling, and then look for the right service for you and your event.