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What Arts Organisations Need to Know About Scrapping Card Surcharges

Since 13 January 2018 it is no longer legal for businesses to charge their customers for taking payment via credit or debit card. This Money Saving Expert article details what changes companies need to make to ensure they’re compliant with the new regulation.

These changes mean that arts organisations can no longer legally charge customers for paying by credit or debit cards. However, ‘service’ charges such as Transaction Commissions are still perfectly legitimate, and companies such as Just Eat, have switched from a straight-up card surcharge, to a service charge that applies even if you collect your meal and pay in cash.

If you are one of the many organisations who rely on direct card surcharges to recoup costs associated with payment processing, then this recent change could possibly mean a drop in income, no matter the size of your business. However, this ruling might well be a good opportunity to evaluate and improve the service you provide to your customers. Perhaps you can look at your fee structure and reshape it to better reflect where you direct your energies as an organisation and your organisational overheads.

Understanding your sales channels

It’s worth having a look at the range of Analysis reports in your system, to find out more about your audience’s purchase patterns. In Spektrix, the Ticket Sales Analysis report lets you gain insight into your customers’ booking behaviours. From this information you can see which particular ticket types are selling well, how many people are booking online or over the phone, and this can then help you discover opportunities where you could recoup income.

For example, you might decide to charge customers for booking over the phone to reflect the personalised customer service this sales channel provides, and instead offer no booking fees on your website to encourage more customers to book online. If it’s applicable, you could even consider switching to an optional, Gift Aid-able donation on every ticket or transaction, which softly encourages up-spend and builds awareness of the work that goes on behind the scenes to fulfill your organisation’s charitable aims. Perhaps you might consider offering waived booking fees for your organisation’s members. By incentivising frequent attendees to consider a membership scheme by waiving booking fees, you can reward customers who book the most and encourage them to book more.

Or if you’re a commercial receiving house, why not take the idea of the service charge and run with it, and talk up your contribution to bringing the greatest shows to town with the best box office team around?

Transparent ticket commissions

Customers usually want to know the full price upfront, but they also understand that this price might include a number of components, including service and fulfillment costs. As the Just Eat example shows, customers don’t like feeling that they’re being ripped off at the last moment, but booking fees can be less off-putting if they’re clearly explained from the start. Spektrix’s Ticket Commission tool is an easy and dynamic way to add booking fees that aren’t rigid flat rates that are added at the end of the sale, but are clear and variable depending on what the customer is buying and how much they’re paying.

Setting up percentage-based Ticket Commissions, or customising how much you charge customers depending on ticket type, price band and sales channel means you don’t have to alienate customers who might have difficulties paying a higher fee, or who are valued members or patrons. A charge can then be passed on to people who are expecting to pay a little bit more than the initial price, such as those in full-time employment.

Alternatively, you could always make Ticket Commissions appear inside the ticket price. This would look like a straightforward price, with no last minute surprises, but with no separation between the event and the service. The most important thing is transparency so that customers don’t get the nasty surprise of an additional fee at the last moment of the purchase process.

As always, if your messaging is consistent and you offer customers a clear and friendly booking journey with no hidden surprises, you’ll be rewarded with loyal reattenders, potential members, and a healthy balance sheet.

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