Here’s How to Sell Tickets for an Event Online
How to sell tickets for an event: Guide to event ticket sales
“How to sell tickets for an event?“ is a very common question. (Don’t believe us? Google it.)
The short and annoyingly vague answer is: It depends.
Wait, don’t leave. There’s more to it.
That vagueness is because there are actually lots of different ways to sell tickets for an event. The answer mainly depends on whether you’re trying to resell event tickets you bought earlier or to sell tickets for your own event.
Let’s break down exactly how to sell tickets for an event.
How to sell tickets for an event if you’re a reseller
Say you bought tickets to a concert or a season ticket to watch your favourite cricket team play. Sweet! But then you find out you can’t make it. Sucks! What do you do now?
You have a number of options.
1. Event ticket resale sites
Your most obvious choice are specialised ticket resale sites like StubHub, Seatwave, Viagogo, and others. These places are basically marketplaces for people looking to sell event tickets that they’ve previously purchased from a primary seller.
There are some definite advantages to using a secondary ticket marketplace. Resale sites tend to bring lots of sellers and buyers together, so you should be able to easily find buyers interested in the specific event ticket you’re selling. Resale sites also handle the payments, taking that extra hassle out of the equation. And, of course, there’s some security built in; most ticket resale sites offer a guarantee that buyers will get their tickets and sellers will get their money.
Now, you’re of course interested in buyers finding your event tickets. So, which of these resale sites should you use to get discovered? We recommend picking one that suits your other criteria (e.g. fees). Interested ticket buyers will usually look through a number of sites to find the best offer on an event ticket they want.
On top of that, there are lots of so-called aggregators that crawl through numerous ticket resale sites at once. They act as a sort of search engine that helps buyers find and compare event tickets. You shouldn’t have to worry about your tickets staying invisible.
Do keep in mind that there may be certain regulations in place regarding resale of event tickets. For instance, the United Kingdom law makes it explicitly illegal to resell football tickets. (Other types of event tickets can be resold without restrictions.) Consult your local laws to make sure you’re not breaking any, you rebel.
For a thorough overview of the secondary ticket market and a list of available ticket resale sites, consult this comprehensive guide from SeatGeek.
2. Other online marketplaces
Ticket resale sites aren’t your only option. There are many general marketplaces where you can list products for sale. eBay is perhaps a classic example.
The advantage of such sites, especially ones with an auction mechanic like eBay, is that you can have multiple interested buyers bidding on your tickets, potentially letting you sell at a higher price.
The same word of caution applies here as well: Be aware of your local ticket resale laws and the specific policies of each individual marketplace. For instance, eBay has a pretty strict definition of what types of event tickets can be resold directly on its site. (The rest must be sold through StubHub, owned by eBay).
For a good overview of online marketplaces, check out this guide from SaleHoo.
3. Do it yourself
Don’t want to deal with marketplaces that charge fees for their services? No problem. There’s always the DIY option. You can try to find interested buyers within your own circle of online contacts or on relevant event forums.
Announce that you have a few spare tickets on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever social media sites you use. Let your friends and contacts spread the word. You can even find Facebook groups for peer-to-peer ticket sales for specific types of events. Look for forums related to events and try to find buyers that way.
The good thing about this approach is that you can jump right in without creating user accounts or filling out registration forms. If you have a large and active network, you’re bound to quickly find a buyer. Plus you get to decide on your own selling terms and price.
But there are also downsides. First, you have to figure out how to facilitate the transaction, especially if you don’t personally know the buyer. You also run the risk of being cheated out of your payment. Sure, you can make the release of your ticket conditional upon receiving the money first, but you and the buyer both lose the peace of mind you’d get with an official resale site.
How to sell tickets for an event if you’re the organiser
The story is quite different if you’re the one organising the event. When you’re the primary seller of event tickets, you need to not only find a suitable site to sell them through but spend a good chunk of your time planning and marketing your event.
You’ll have to decide on the price for your event tickets. Will you sell the same ticket to everyone or offer discounted “early bird" tickets and VIP tickets with extra perks? Will you give away some free tickets? How many of each type of ticket will you sell? And, of course, you’ll need to think of ways to process payments, monitor your ticket sales, and stay connected to the buyers.
If you’re the event organiser, here’s how to sell tickets for an event.
1. Social media and forums
This is similar to the “do it yourself" route for ticket resellers. It’s the most basic and straightforward way to find people who might be interested in buying tickets for your event. You could create a Facebook event and include payment instructions for your tickets in the description. Then you’d paste the event link on various forums or ask your network to promote and share the event.
This is an easy, no-frills approach that might work just fine for smaller events. However, you’d have to find ways to handle most of the administration on your own. Things like processing payments, issuing tickets, tracking your sales, dealing with refund claims, and so on. As such, this approach isn’t all that sustainable if you’re expecting hundreds of guests.
2. Own online presence
Another approach is to establish or use your existing online presence to handle your ticket sales. Perhaps you have an artist page. Or maybe you have a personal website or a blog. You can find tools that help turn your personal space into an event ticket shop.
If you have a Wordpress blog, you’ll find a number of plugins that enable you to sell event tickets. Other sites like e.g. Shopify specialise in helping you run a webshop, and can also work well for selling event tickets.
With this approach, you’re in charge of your own brand and get to decide on the look and feel of your ticket storefront. Of course, you’d still need to promote your event and manage everything else around it. So it’s certainly not the easiest option.
3. Traditional ticketing agents
Think Ticketmaster. Large ticketing agents like that usually have partnerships with venues and can do the bulk of heavy lifting for you - helping you promote the event, sell tickets, and handle the distribution. If you’re a well-established organiser or, say, a big name in the music industry, these traditional ticketing agents would probably be your go-to choice.
Keep in mind, though, that the services of a major ticket agent will most likely be overkill for small- and medium-sized events or amateur event organisers. You’d be paying for a fancy Ferrari while all you really needed was a reliable Volvo.
And that’s if you even get your foot in the door. Large ticketing agents tend to have a rather cumbersome application process, requiring you to fill out a registration form. You’d likely need to provide a forecast of your expected ticket sales, venue capacity, and more.
All in all, getting started with your event ticket sales isn’t quick or easy when you’re dealing with such ticketing industry giants. Unless you’re organising a huge event or featuring some A-list celebrities, Ticketmaster may just be out of your league.
4. Self-service ticketing sites
This brings us to self-service ticketing sites. Like Billetto. (Hey, that’s us!)
They’re what they sound like: sites that let you create events and sell event ticket on your own. There’s virtually no learning curve with these sites: it’s super easy and fast to register, create your event, and start selling tickets. The whole process takes minutes. It’s no more difficult or time-consuming than creating an event on Facebook.
At the same time, self-service ticketing platforms are designed to handle all the boring stuff for you: accepting payments, issuing tickets, keeping track of sales and guest stats, and so on.
Self-service ticketing sites have different pricing models. Some charge you a monthly fee to use their services. Others, like Billetto, charge no out-of-pocket fees at all. Instead, whenever someone buys a ticket, a small booking fee is added to the price. Most sites let organisers decide whether to absorb this fee (buyers only pay the original ticket face value) or pass it on to the guests (buyers pay both the ticket price and the fee).
Using a self-service ticketing site can be easily combined with whatever event promotion you might already be doing. For example, you might create your event on a self-service ticketing site and then promote it on Facebook or other forums of your choice. With Billetto, you get the option of embedding a ticket widget directly on your site or blog so that people can buy tickets without having to leave your space.
For small and medium event organisers, self-service ticketing sites may just be the most efficient and affordable way to sell tickets for their events.
We hope that the above overview did a thorough job of explaining how to sell tickets for an event.
If you think we’ve missed something important, feel free to drop us an email. We’d love to hear from you.
Billetto is a self-service ticketing site where you can create an event page in a matter of minutes. Sell paid tickets, register guests, accept donations, or offer merchandise and food vouchers. Your guests can buy tickets in just a few clicks.
Best of all? There are no upfront costs for using Billetto. We have a per-ticket booking fee that’s paid when the sale takes place. You decide whether to absorb this fee or pass it on to your guests. (There are - of course - no booking fees for free tickets.)
Interested? Get started below or learn more about Billetto features.