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6 Basic Rules of a Good Online Booking Experience

Creating a great online ticket booking experience is no easy feat. What's the secret? Ben Park spills the beans.

Websites are a brilliant engagement and marketing tool for organisations of all sizes. But ticket-selling organisations often underestimate the importance of the online booking experience with disastrous results: abandoned baskets, surprise booking fees, and missed opportunities for giving customers more of what they want. If it sounds familiar then you’ll understand the importance of meeting potential audiences halfway. Not only does the booking experience need to make them feel comfortable completing the transaction and demonstrate how much you value their custom, but it should encourage people to find out more about the other things you have to offer. Here are 6 ways to provide a positive online booking experience that will make a difference to your organisation and your customers:

1. Keep them with you

Ever booked a ticket that started on a venue website, and finished on a cold grey ticketing system? Not only did it probably make you feel uneasy about entering your card details, but it severed your relationship to the venue that you’re buying the ticket for. So find a ticketing software supplier that helps you to keep the whole journey on your website so that you can maintain your brand identity and tone of voice all the way through.

2. Go mobile

Mobile ticketing is huge news. Every day it seems like there’s a new mobile ticketing app, which isn’t surprising considering that 62% of people in the UK own a smartphone. That’s why when it comes to your own website, remember that people on mobile phones have higher expectations, and friction can make purchasing tickets on a mobile an exhausting experience. The way to change this is either with a separate mobile site (which automatically redirects visitors from the main site) or a responsive site, (which automatically responds to the dimensions of the device screen that the visitor is using). Big buttons and text will also make sure your site is thumb and eye-friendly.

3. Online incentives

It’s much easier for you and for your customers if they can book online, so don’t put them in a position where they have to pick up the phone to call you. Make sure all the services which are available in person are available online, like discounts, concession tickets available online (make them pick up their ticket so you can check their ID), member benefits, and seat selection. Offer a range of ticket delivery options to be convenient including print-at-home, postal delivery and Care Of Box Office. Importantly, don’t charge a booking fee online if you don’t charge it in person – in fact, while we’re talking about booking fees…

4. Be clear and transparent

Be clear and transparent about booking fees. A guaranteed way of ruining someone’s perception of your organisation before they have even had a chance to visit you, is by advertising a price that people can’t actually pay online (or in person) because of mandatory booking fees. Not only is it terrible customer service, but it falls foul of advertising standards – and it’s so easy to avoid!

5. Cross-sell and up-sell

How do you know what someone wants if you don’t ask them? Very simply, you can’t, which is why cross-selling and up-selling along the online booking experience is a valuable tool to tap into other things people might be open to. It usually works by linking a particular event to certain merchandise items or other events which then get suggested along the way, or by encouraging them to meet the criteria for certain offers and discounts to apply. You can also use it as an opportunity to suggest that they add a donation to their basket – if you’ve been transparent about prices and maintained your brand throughout, they might even take you up on it!  

6. Consider your other online platforms

Think about online ticketing in context of your wider online footprint. Are there opportunities on social media to link to a customer’s purchase experience – such as adding a tweet button so they can tell their friends what they’ve just booked for? If you think about ticketing in terms of your wider digital approach, you might spot more opportunities to better integrate ticketing into your digital marketing.