Event Ticketing Best Practices in 2023

Each event is different but there are a lot of common needs across most types of events that require ticketing solutions. All events have description information and locations, even if the location is virtual. Most events need to sell tickets and get people through the door. Many events have promotions that are part of sales, or some level of staff or volunteers to manage.

Below are some things to think about when planning your event. Multipass brings you a combination of suggested best practices coupled with questions you might ask yourself about your event needs.

Setting Up Your Event Online

These days it’s expected that your event information will be available online. This includes details about your event, the location, the date and time, sponsors, parking details, and any other pertinent information. We live in an information age and there is usually no reason not to make this information easily available.

If you can create a nice URL coupled with a QR code that you can attach to your marketing (such as posters, social media graphics or flyers) then it will be very easy for people to get to the ticketing information page you create.

Public vs Private Events

Most events are public but sometimes you want to keep details private. If this is the case, make sure the platform you’re using gives you a way to control access and visibility. This can range from keeping an address hidden to making the entire event password-protected to where you can’t even see the name of the event unless you have paid membership, you’re part of a group, or you’ve got the password for the event.

Sometimes it’s about the mystery, sometimes it’s just nobody else’s business. There are ways to control all aspects of information flow and you can choose a platform that gives you this type of control.

Online Event Tickets (Free Tickets Too!)

Your event platform should let you sell tickets. If your event is free you might still want to make people get tickets or RSVP; one benefit to doing this for free events is that you can build a marketing email list from your event attendees.

If your event isn’t free then make sure you understand the mechanics of cash flow. What are the fees associated with ticket sales? When do you get paid? Is there a possibility of advance payment or do all payouts happen after the event? How many steps is the checkout process? Do you want to require people to enter a physical or billing addresses as part of the checkout flow, or not?

There are many viable platforms; make sure to choose one that gives both you and your customers a good experience.

Ticket Levels and Promotions

Most events have more than one ticket price. Even if there is only really one ticket it’s near-certain that someone involved is paying less. Do friends or family get half-price? Volunteers? Make sure that your ticket platform has the ability to handle the scenarios that will apply to your event.

Much of this will also touch promotion codes. If you want to send a presale announcement out with a code anyone can use, that’s great. Want to invite specific people with promo codes that work a single time? Make sure the system you’re using can do that.

Additionally, consider how easy it is to offer complimentary tickets. These don’t have to be different ticket types, these are tickets that simply aren’t charged for. This can be done at the door with a guest list but you can streamline the door even more, and keep your attendee statistics in one place, by just providing people comped tickets.

If you think you might want to offer QR codes with promo codes built in, consider whether you have an easy way to make that happen as well. Don’t use a third-party QR services (more on this below) unless you trust them.

Consider if you want to let people transfer their tickets. Maybe general tickets can be transferred, but not VIP tickets. Make sure that your platform lets you set this on a per-ticket-type basis. The same would be true if you are considering allowing tickets to be resold in online marketplaces.

Service Fees, Price Models, Payouts

The biggest pain point in ticketing these days is the often outrageous service fees. If you want to pay through the nose you can certainly find those options. If you want competitive and fair prices then you can find that too.

There are a few ways to display prices to your audience. Here are three possibilities:

  1. The price you set is the price that the buyer pays. That means that if you ask $50 for your ticket’s final price then that already includes service fees, venue fees, credit card processing fees, taxes, and potentially shipping. Your own takeaway will be less than $50 but the upside is that the pricing is as transparent as possible.
  2. The price you set is your takeaway, all other fees are added on top. This includes service fees, venue fees, credit card processing fees, taxes, and potentially shipping. Does your platform show the fee breakdown to your buyer or keep it hidden?
  3. The price you set is your takeaway, but credit card fees will be held back. This results in a lower additional fee. The service fee and venue fee will be added, but no additional charge is added to cover credit card processing. Buyers are already used to seeing lines for tax and/or shipping and those will be shown if applicable.

Consider as well what the payout schedule will be. When do you see the money for the tickets you have sold? Is there a possibility of an immediate partial payout or is it all after the event? After the event, does any get held back to cover disputes/chargebacks? If so, when do you settle up with the platform?

Ticket Transfers

With the exception of a small percentage of invite-only events, you will usually have people wanting to transfer tickets to other people. Make sure your platform lets you grant or deny the transfer of a ticket on a per-ticket-type basis.

The method of the ticket transfer makes a difference to the security of the exchange as well. Ownership can be changed on a ticket but another option is that the original ticket is invalidated and a completely new ticket issued, with ownership exchange history preserved. This latter approach can be important because in this age of digital tickets you need to know that the QR code that you have will still be valid when you get to the door. When tickets are exchanged, the person who originally had the ticket will have had access to that ticket’s QR code and, if acting in bad faith, could try to use it before you get to the venue. When tickets are expired/recreated then entirely new codes are generated and the original codes cannot be used to negate the use of the new ones.

What is necessary in order to transfer a ticket? Do you need someone’s email address? Can you transfer with just a phone number? How about a transfer claim code that you could give to anyone through social media, not knowing anything else about them? Can you cancel a transfer that has been initiated but not yet received?

Virtual Event Support

During the pandemic, online events boomed. Does your event need an online participation component? Can you differentiate ticket types to know that some are in-person and some are online? What measures are in place to communicate information to participants while reducing the risk of premature information leakage? Can you set how far in advance online links are sent out automatically? Do you not want to do this, instead preferring to send them out manually? What happens if someone buys a ticket at the last minute after this information has been sent out, or after the event has already started?

Late Reveal Of Information?

For reasons of privacy or mystery, sometimes you will want to not share certain information in advance. This might be location information (secret party!), a surprise headliner, or maybe a link to an online event. Maybe this wasn’t even a secret event but you have a last-minute venue change or health notice to get out to people.

Consider what your communication methods are. Do you have the ability to email your attendees? Can you reach them via text message? Text is an interesting option as it can put information in front of people even after they have already left for the night and are no longer actively checking email.

Getting People Through the Door

Nobody likes lines and there are some things you can do to streamline things at the door. Some of these will be more, or less, possible depending on the number of people you have available at the door.

To that end, the single fastest thing that can happen to get someone through the door is to have them pull up a QR code and for a door person to scan it with success. The time for this is a couple of seconds and this fast is important to keep in mind.

When someone shows up at the door and has to buy a ticket there are a few ways to make this happen.

You can have people purchase tickets online while standing in line. This is certainly a possibility but it’s a bit awkward. If you need contact information for everyone this might not be a bad way to go. If you do this, make sure to tell people in advance that this is the case, and that you’re not accepting cash or even in-person credit cards.

Most events have a hybrid system of advanced sales and door sales. People still expect to be able to show up and gain entry with cash or credit. You might also choose to accept Venmo or Paypal. Make sure your ticketing platform has support for these. For credit sales, there are both integrated options and external options. An external option might be something like using Square as a standalone credit card swiper, then issuing a ticket and having it marked as used. An internal option will have credit processing built right into your mobile/tablet app, or computer software, where you’d run a card using functionality built directly into your system. Internal credit card processing is almost always going to be faster and smoother than an external method.

If you have the ability to offer two lines at your event you might consider doing so. It’s a piece of cake to scan a QR code and you can reduce the length of a line and increase morale by giving people with prepurchased tickets a near-immediate admission process. One line scans tickets, one line sells tickets.

Cash sales or offline sales are more susceptible to theft or abuse. Having a single spot that you process all sales through can give you unified reporting while also decreasing the temptation of an employee pocketing a bit for themselves.

Volunteer and Staff Management

Most events are made possible by people working together. Does your event platform have the ability to define volunteer or staff roles, while giving you, or volunteers, the ability to fill those roles? Do your volunteers get discounted tickets, or maybe rebates, if they show up?

It’s a common practice to maintain a printed guest/volunteer list but there are opportunities to improve communication and accountability as well. Providing volunteer tickets in advance, possibly their own ticket type, can help you get people through the door much faster than human eyes looking up names on multiple pieces of paper will ever be.

QR Codes

If you are going to market your event/tickets using QR codes it’s vital that you provide a safe and secure experience to your audience. QR codes are commonplace for scanning directly to website URLs and any code you use should point directly to your destination page.

Avoid the use of third-party QR-generation sites that you don’t have prior experience with. Many of them make their money by redirecting users to their own hosted pages and serving up confusing advertisements, possibly even getting people to enter credit card information. Some of these sites might look like they go directly to your site but later pull a bait-and-switch, rendering their own in-between page only after some number of people scan their code. You DO NOT WANT THIS, and you must control your own experience. If you are generating a QR code for a certain URL then make absolutely sure that the URL that your phone shows you upon scanning is the actual destination you want to send people to. In-between pages result in bad experiences and you can avoid them.

The URL that is scanned from a QR code needs to go directly to the destination you want them to see, and there is no reason for anything else.

Physical Paper Tickets

If you allow paper tickets these days they will still almost certainly include either barcodes or QR codes for security purposes. Do you want to design and produce attractive tickets that people can use for souvenirs? Check to make sure that your platform can support this. Keep in mind that print tickets will have a production lead time and make sure to account for this timing.

Ticket Resale Marketplace

Transfers notwithstanding, do you want people to be able to resell their tickets online? Do you want to allow this for some ticket types but not for others? Do you want to prohibit resale until the main sale no longer has any tickets available? Do you want to cap the maximum possible resale price? Does your resale platform allow you as a venue/event/promoter to share in the aftermarket resale fees?


There are a lot of options for ticketing platforms these days and there’s no reason to go with one that doesn’t meet all of your needs.

At Multipass, we are happy to promote healthy ticketing best practices as well as offering a solution that gives you the flexibility you need to run your event the way you want to. Ready to start? Set up your event on Multipass here!