How to choose the right ticketing solution for arts audience development

This week I was truly a happy audience development geek when I found Capterra’s ticket software filter.  If you are looking for a ticketing solution, this filter is the best for discovering what you can get for your budget.  Instead of being caught up in the better marketing of some companies, you can now compare features to features to find exactly what you need!

A ticketing program is very important when it comes to audience development.  In fact, it is more important than people realize.  Your ticketing system can either help you or harm you when it comes to audience development.  It is best to have a system where you can track and segment to reach the right people for each particular show or event.  I also feel it is important that the system can track your efforts.  I am a big fan of having the system be able to handle your fundraising and membership tasks as well.  The more you can get closer to an “all-in-one” system, the better off you will be.

It used to be that a system of this nature cost a ton of money.  Only the bigger organizations could afford to buy.  The good news is that during my research for smaller to mid-size organizations (and budgets), I found a list of very affordable solutions that are feature rich and could translate into fantastic audience development opportunities if used to the solutions’ potential.

Here is the list of requirements I wanted for under $7,000, 2-9 users, and Windows/Web based/Mac capable:

  • Barcode / Ticket Scanning (94) – This is important so we can finally start tracking who is showing up!
  • Box Office POS (90)
  • CRM Integration (59)
  • Custom Ticket Designs (83) – It allows you a place for sponsor logos & invites for upcoming shows.
  • Customer Data Collection (89)
  • Customer Database (95)
  • Customizable Branding (87) – A must for audience development.
  • Customizable Fields (94) – Another must for audience development!
  • Customizable Reporting (93)
  • Data Import/Export (103)
  • Database Integration (80)
  • Demographic Data (67)
  • Fundraising (56) – Remember the all-in-one ultimate goal!
  • Installation Support (86)
  • Membership Management (64) – You can handle sponsorship levels with this feature on most solutions!
  • No Fixed Fee (60)
  • Online Ticketing (98)
  • Onsite Ticketing (91)
  • Print-at-Home Fulfillment (90)
  • Remote / Kiosk Sales (70)
  • Reporting (105)
  • Reserved Seating (81)
  • Reserved Ticketing (86)
  • VIP & Discount Tickets (93)
  • Volunteer Management (18) – ChoiceCRM & Glitnir only for this search!  I hope more solutions add this soon.

One feature I decided to cancel on my search was “Online User Selects Seats.”  This would be a nice feature, but if you are budget conscious, I think for now it is best to think of all the other features first.  If they need exact seats, they can call.

I must say that I am not endorsing one over the other, although I have my opinions.  Here is the list of all the ticketing solutions I found that had these features (in order of Capterra’s list, not mine):

logo for Box Office Software

Glitnir Ticketing – Glitnir Ticketing System

2 reviews

[Learn more]

TICKETsage – TICKETsage Custom Solutions

6 reviews

Box Office Solutions (Hardware and Software).  [Learn more]

If you are windows or web based only, there were a few more ticketing solutions in this price range that came up. If you are on a really tight to non-existent budget, I really liked PrimeTix for the lowest costs.  If you want audience development features that a Brown Paper Tickets or EventBrite solution does not have, I would say this is a great alternative to start building relationships with your audience members:

[Learn more]

In my opinion, a ticketing solution needs to be user friendly, have the ability to track your efforts, be customizable when it comes to the data you input (and export), and be able to keep as much of your organizational functions in one system as possible.  Having fundraising, membership, and volunteer management combined with your ticketing, makes sense to me.  You need the ability to capture a complete picture of your audience members in order to be able to build the best relationships with them.  This is why choosing your ticketing solution is important and well worth the time spent on getting it right!

PS  I have spoken to a few of these services. Look for more volunteer management and class management additions on the horizon!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under Arts, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising, Online fund raising, Online fundraising, Volunteer coordination, Volunteer Management

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