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Choosing the Right Ticketing System: The Major Players
By Roger Tomlinson
January 31, 2013
Not all systems, or their suppliers, are the same
There are literally hundreds of so-called ticketing system suppliers, ranging from major national and international companies like Ticketmaster to regional and local ones. They can vary from the comprehensive “software solutions” types such as Tessitura to the basic browser-based web ticketing services or re-sellers from Ticketmaster down.
It is almost impossible to compare these (despite my editor’s prodding to do so). Most recognized ticketing systems can offer the latest must-have technology—just look at the rush to deliver social media integration. It may be stating the obvious, but “buyer beware” and make careful cost comparisons.
Category One: The major suppliers
These systems offer state-of-the-art comprehensive functionality; they also provide a platform for interfacing with other software solutions and databases—SQL is ubiquitous—and serve as a one-stop-shop for customer interfacing in all areas, such as e-marketing, social media, web sites, loyalty schemes, memberships, subscriptions, and fund-raising.
There is a higher price tag for this—for generally larger supplier sales, support, and service teams, with a high level of knowledge about the operating environment in user organizations.
Tessitura is seen as the not-for-profit exemplar, and has a huge body of satisfied users around the English-speaking world. (See Capture that Data) It does have serious competition from other international systems, however, including:
There is also a big following for systems that can meet high-specification demands:
The advantages of all these are the great software functionality, the user base and user-group conferences, and the constant up-grade path, with continual development of the software and regular releases of new versions. The only disadvantage is the relatively high cost, in most cases worth it for the broad functionality, and the need for “intelligent users [in-house] for intelligent systems.” Watch out for the implementation process—be sure that the scope of work delivers what you want.
Category Two: The Challengers
These suppliers may not have as broad a user base as those in Category One, but all bring something different to the table and work closely with their users. Many challenge the orthodoxies of ticketing:
These suppliers are all in the business of achieving customer satisfaction, helping people work smarter, enabling venues to thrive as well as survive in these challenging economic circumstances. Expect a range of ways to pay for the system and ensure the company understands your operating circumstances.
Category Three: The Rest
This is a big group, comprised of both time-served survivors and start-ups. This chart lists quite a few suppliers with only one or two users. Some of the older ones have left their product restricted to just ticketing, but they are up against the newer web-based ticketing services with a huge range of solutions and prices. To be clear, if you look at the likes of EventBrite, you are not looking at solutions comparable with those in Category One or Two. Yet the kinds of fees charged can add up significantly, for both the organization and the ticket buyer.
The danger in this Category is whether these suppliers actually offer competitive solutions in terms of their functionality from a marketing and CRM perspective, as well as ticketing. They can often cost more than total solutions in the other categories, though there are exceptions. There is a huge range of choice, and it can’t be said often enough: buyer beware.
Roger Tomlinson is a London-based management and marketing consultant, working in the arts and entertainment sectors. An expert on integrated solutions and developing online technologies for ticketing and marketing, he has authored several books including Full House: Turning Data Into Audiences and Boxing Clever, Developing and Managing a Website. He also produces the The Ticketing Institute information web site.
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