How to Buy the Wrong Ticketing System

We talk a lot about how to buy the right ticketing system – but it’s equally important that you can recognize when a system is wrong for your organization. Plenty of organizations make mistakes during the process of choosing new software, and we want to help you avoid a negative experience.
Let’s start at the beginning:

Before you’ve contacted sales-representatives and before you’ve requested price quotes or demos, designate time with your staff to discuss exactly what you need this new system to accomplish. Determine what to ask about each program (here, we’ve made a list of questions to get you started). A ticketing system might look fantastic on the surface but may ultimately fail you in the small details. By speaking with the staff at large, you collect information to pinpoint what details are non-negotiable. Everyone who will be expected to use the system should be consulted before a purchase is made.

How Can a System Fail the Box Office

The Box Office is the most obvious place to start because that team will touch the system daily. Every system should be able to sell a ticket – but can it generate a will-call list that allows the staff to check-people in as they arrive? Can you send a customized, automatic confirmation email with a receipt when a guest makes a purchase? If the answer is no, you may want to reconsider. The right system should function as the hub for your company’s patron data. Information must be trustworthy and correct in this platform.

How Can a System Fail the Administration

A good ticketing system should function as a database and resource for the whole company. The Development Director should be able to track donors in the same system, and just like the box office sends a ticket purchase confirmation, the development team should be able to send an automatic donation acknowledgment. The Marketing Director should be able to pull reports that help determine what marketing plans are most effective on certain demographics. The Audience Services staff should be able to monitor how ticket sales are contributing to the budget’s resolution.

An important thing to consider about a new service provider is their phone support. If you or your staff are never able to talk to a representative about a problem you’re having, then ultimately, that system is failing you. The provider should let you know clearly when and how to contact support so you can get your questions answered in an efficient manner. Try calling the support desk before you purchase to test their responsiveness.

How Can a System Fail the Guest

The worst-case scenario is picking a ticket system that disappoints your guests and ultimately embarrasses your team. Bad software can make your organization look and feel unprofessional, in more ways than one (read this – you may already feel ashamed of your software without knowing it). Hidden fees are a great way to lose the trust of your guest. Ask right away – how much is the service fee per transaction and do you have the option to pass that fee to the ticket buyer? Ask how refund receipts are issued (some companies won’t send you a receipt unless you specifically request one), and whether or not you can issue partial refunds. You may not want to think about a guest needing their money back, but unexpected things happen, travel plans get canceled, people get sick, and you need to be prepared to help your patrons. Once you’ve figured out what each department needs from the system to feel successful, you can start making calls and comparing prices. Think preemptively about the experience you want your guests to have when they purchase your tickets. Imagine the ideal software and work to find a comparable solution within your budget. Start from an informed place to avoid making a choice you regret in 90 days. And hey, if nothing else – ask if you’ll be locked in for any period of time.