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Box Office Systems

Box Office

For many audience members, the box office experience might be the only interaction they have with your company. You want to make sure your box office is set up in a welcoming and efficient manner. Consider the community you are trying to reach and what way of purchasing tickets makes the most sense for them.

Know your inventory

This is the number of tickets you have available to sell. Remember to hold back any comp tickets and media seats.

If you have tickets at different price points, allocate according to your budget goals (for example, in your revenues you might have a goal of selling 25% of your tickets at an Arts Worker rate, and 75% at the Regular rate) and adjust your inventory along the way as necessary.

Also take into consideration if there are group or reduced rates for the specialized performances (ASL performances, Audio Described, etc.).

Online Sales

As with most anything, people now often purchase their tickets to performances and events online in advance. There are many ticketing services available to independent producers that can handle your advance box office needs. Some of them can also integrate easily into your door sales. They usually charge a nominal fee that you can absorb into the ticket price or it can be passed on to your attendee, applied on top of the ticket price.

Plan time to set-up and do a dry-run of your ticketing system before your ticket sales go live so you can troubleshoot any issues.

Compare Service Providers

Online Ticket Sales
Service ProviderCosts/TicketOnline NotesDoor NotesReportingGetting PaidOther
Brown Paper Tickets$0.99 plus 3.5% Self-set up; Coupon codes;Credit card; Inventory tracking; Check-in integratedAs neededCan use their processor (mailed cheque) or PayPal (immediate)n/a
Theatre Wire $2 They set-up; Coupon codesiPad provided for inventory and credit card process; Check-in on paperMax 2x/week; plus daily for each show, Will Call must be printed offCheque within 2 weeksVancouver based project of the Fringe; Provide you with float and iPad for credit card sales and inventory
Picatic$1 + 2.5% per ticket, $10 cap (free if only one ticket price) Self set-up; Coupon codes;Credit card?; Inventory tracking?; Check-in integratedAs neededCheque within 2 weeks
Square Online2.9% + 30¢ (swiped)Self set-up; Coupon codes;Credit card; Inventory tracking; Check-in on paperAs neededImmediate depositSmart phone or tablet required to process payment
Eventbrite$0.39 + 2.5%Self set-up; Coupon codes;Credit card; Inventory tracking; Check-in integratedAs neededDirect deposit required


Also check out:
Tickets Tonight (Vancouver)
What's On TOnight (Toronto)
Artspoints
Creative Users

Door Sales

Be clear in your marketing if tickets will be available at the door on the performance date(s). If you are selling tickets at the door, you will need a Box Office Attendant. That person will require:

  • a cash float
  • a box office sales tracking sheet or access to the online ticket system

In-Person Sales

Having physical tickets to sell is still a great way to get an audience because it requires reaching out into the community. You can have a local business sell tickets for you for a percentage of each ticket sold. You can set up a booth at local events like farmers' markets and community fairs. You can also allot tickets to members of your team for selling. This method requires advance coordination with third parties and regular maintenance to ensure your inventory numbers are up to date.

Other considerations to make

If an Audio Described performance is offered, are the directions clear, once a ticket is purchased, on how to reserve and pick up a receiver? Do you have signage at your box office that indicates accessibility information, ie. if the venue is accessible, if the box office representatives speak ASL or any other languages that are suitable for the performance? Are washroom signs clear?