Stupid Ticketing Fees Part 2: The Marketers Revenge

Earlier this week, I wrote about ticket service fees, and judging from the responses and comments, clearly this is a topic that has struck a resonant chord.

Many have commented to me that they don’t like charging service fees, but are hamstrung by their ticketing agencies. Some are part of universities where they don’t have a choice, and must use a ticketing service, against their will.

I have two comments or suggestions. First, it’s up to you as the client to scream at your vendor to give you another option rather than charging service fees to your patrons. The ticketing industry is in a state of rapid change, and I know that some ticketing software companies will negotiate fees that guarantee them a per-ticket fee, but that fee can be paid by you, rather than the customer. Try that. If that fails, don’t sign a long-term contract and start looking for a more flexible vendor.

I hear some of you challenging me: "That’s not practical." "This will take too long." "We don’t want to change our ticketing system, it’s too much hassle."  Fair enough.

Then get creative.

How about refund/rebates? No matter your ticketing system, you can always say, "buy a ticket online today and we’ll refund you your ticket service fees paid when you arrive to pick up your tickets." You control their credit card, you can refund their money. Of course, it’s going to lower your revenue, but isn’t this a much more palatable and more creative way to offer a discount than lowering the ticket price itself? 

If you try this, will you please write in and tell me how it works? If I were a arts marketer hamstrung with per-ticket service fees I couldn’t get rid of, I’d test this immediately.

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One response to “Stupid Ticketing Fees Part 2: The Marketers Revenge

  1. Thank you for your suggestions; in our experience (Stageplays Theatre Company) – the theatre has a contract with a ticketing agency – we can’t even choose the ticketing agency. Also, on top of the ticketing fee, they add the theatre restoration fee – we decided to absorb that fee for every ticket purchased because we don’t want our audience to pay two fees – can you imagine having to pay two different fees for one ticket? It’s no fun, to say the least. But I like your second suggestion a lot – I don’t think we can give back the money for the fee because we can’t really extract that out of the payment, and I’m not sure how the Box Office (the theatre’s box office) would like to handle anything like that, but we can offer something else instead, maybe a free poster just to let people know that we are sensitive to the fact that they have to pay those fees. This way, they get a nice souvenir and we get rid of the few hundreds posters we have left over from each show. And we can ask the Box Office to give away one poster to every person who paid a fee online or on the phone – they may actually charge us a fee for that 🙂

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