If you are independently producing theatre in Vancouver, your options for ticketing are limited.
For those starting out, I’ve often seen producers get a dedicated phone line with voicemail. The outbound message gives info about the show, and people can leave a message for a reservation. They depend upon family and friends to manage the box office at the door. This is certainly the cheapest option, but, unable to actually sell tickets online or over the phone, there is nothing to keep people from just not bothering to show up.
Next up, there is Tickets Tonight. Since Festival Box Office closed their doors a couple years back, Tickets Tonight is pretty much the only game in town (with the exception of Ticketmaster, which is where the big boys play). Tickets Tonight, although it may be the only game in town, is not a bad deal. Your show gets listed on their website, and people can visit their physical ticket booth, which is conveniently located inside Tourism Vancouver. They can accept credit cards, and all the math is done for you. As well, there is no fee to the producer–the fees are paid by the patron. The customer service charge ranges from $2.14 for a ticket under $10, up to $4.28 for a $40 ticket.
Enter the new kid on the block: Stubmatic. Developed by a software company
in the UK, Stubmatic uses PayPal technology to sell tickets online. There is no customer service fee (although if you want to charge one, you can), and plans start at as little as $9/month for events that seat up to 250.
Jon Baker, the CEO of Vibrant Apps, who created Stubmatic, had this to say about it:
There are several benefits to small theatre producers using our service. Firstly, we offer them a massive cost saving over our competition. Even though some of our competition don’t charge any monthly fees they will add upwards of a 10% booking fees on top of the face value of each ticket sold. We only charge a flat monthly fee with no hidden costs. In addition we provide our users with the option to charge their own booking fee (per ticket or transaction). They can use this to cover the cost of our monthly fee as well as any PayPal fees they may incur, for example. The second benefit is that we are a small company and pride ourselves on being accessible and able to help our customers and we try to react quickly as possible to feature & support requests. Additionally we provide our users a range of tools to help market their event. These include “Buy Now” buttons that they can put on other websites to link to their box office and we also do behind the scenes search engine optimisation to improve their event page’s search engine ranking. If any of your users have a MySpace page we offer a MySpace application which can be installed. This displays / links to all events they are selling directly on their MySpace profile.
The only drawback of Stubmatic, that I can see, is that, because it’s PayPal, it charges in US dollars. Which, for some people, might be enough to keep them from using it. However, Stubmatic offers a free, no-strings-attached trial period. If you go to http://www.stubmatic.com/info/register you can sell up to three events (maximum 500 tickets per event) for free.