Digital Passport - Event Marketer

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Digital Passport

Ask anyone who’s ever waited endlessly to get into an event and they’ll agree—a long check-in line is a short distance to frustration, second only to forgetting your ticket. It’s a feeling often shared by the event organizers themselves as they flip through pages of printouts, checking off names, and inevitably missing a few. But now, thanks to mobile ticketing services that take advantage of smartphones, bar codes and other technologies, the hassles of paper tickets are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Even airlines and public transportation systems are jumping on board. Here, a few places for event marketers to get started.

Two of the best mobile ticketing websites for small- to medium-event organizers are mogotix.com and eventbrite.com, which are transaction-based sites that sell tickets for a commission, usually 2 1/2 percent of the ticket price plus 99 cents, with no charge if the event is free. Organizers fill out a template with the name and a description of the event, the cost and type of tickets for sale and bank or PayPal information for payment. They also can upload logos, pictures or video. This information generates a custom web page where people can read about the event and enter their phone number to receive a ticket on their cell phone. They show up, staffers scan the ticket using an iPhone app and, boom, they’re in.

But that’s not all. These resources offer additional features that help keep track of transactions, attendees and ultimately help event organizers sell more tickets.

MogoTix is a new service that has been in testing mode since March, primarily among techies in the San Francisco area, and officially launched in September. Attendees receive a text message with a link to a web page that is their ticket, which staffers scan onsite via an iPhone app. Attendees also receive mobile reminders two hours prior to the event. MogoTix also places a widget on organizers’ websites, so visitors can buy tickets there as well as on the customized event page. Live check-in boards track and display arrivals’ names in real time, and organizers can view how the event is doing on their scanners where a bar correlates to the number of tickets sold. “We’re really focusing on the real time aspects of the service,” says MogoTix ceo Scott Thorpe.

Julian Nachtigal, coo at San Francisco-based faberNovel/pariSoma Innovation Loft, a co-working space during the day for start-ups and freelancers that hosts tech events in the evenings, has used MogoTix for four events. He finds the system more convenient than paper tickets for attendees and for organizers. “It was easy to set up an event and have people sign up,” he says. “People get a reminder via text message and never have to worry about printing out a ticket.”

Nachtigal also likes projecting attendees’ names as they enter. “It shows a tally, like a scoreboard,” he says.

Eventbrite, which has been around since 2006, offers a suite of management tools on the back end of its site that keeps track of attendees and asks custom questions when they buy their ticket, such as dietary restrictions for meals that may be served or about their businesses. “You can see who is attending, when they bought their ticket and how they found out about the event, so organizers can see which of their marketing programs are most effective,” says Tamara Mendelsohn, director of marketing at Eventbrite.

But what really has Mendelsohn excited is recent research by the company that underscores the power of social media on mobile ticketing. “Facebook is the website that drives the most traffic to Eventbrite, which means people are discovering events there and clicking on them. This gives smaller events with smaller budgets the power to reach more people very cost effectively,” she says.

Eventbrite just last month released Eventbrite Easy Entry, a new free iPhone check-in application that turns an iPhone into a 2D bar code scanner, making ticket scanning affordable and accessible to organizers. Check-ins are synced across multiple devices, providing updated guest lists to all entry staffers.

Crissy Gershey, director of marketing and business development at partiesthatcook.com, which uses Eventbrite to sell tickets for cooking events in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, likes the set-up template, which she says is easy to use, and the customer service and the marketing reports that indicate where her guests are coming from. “We can create individual, unique links for sites, how many people find us on that link and how many bought tickets. It’s a big time saver for a small business,” she says.

Other plusses for Gershey: a public listing feature that promotes the event on Google and other websites; easy-to-create promo codes that allow her to discount as many or as few tickets as she wants; and the ability to embed a ticket window into her own site rather than a third-party site. “No one has to click out of the site,” she says. “It’s more seamless and we don’t lose people.”

Now, that would really be frustrating. EM

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