6 min read

How to prepare for NY’s ticketing fee law (and why it's good business)

Vintage theater ticket with itemized fees

New York State has passed a law requiring ticket sellers to show all fees upfront, offering more transparency to ticket buyers, improving customer experience, and building trust between patrons and performing arts organizations. Find out how your Spektrix system can ensure you’re compliant by the end of August (and why it’s good business, even if you’re out of state).

The bill targeting hidden ticket fees, S9461/A10500, was passed by both houses in early June and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on June 30, 2022. The law is set to take effect 60 days after signing. 

“The most important moment in an online transaction - the moment where you need the greatest trust between your organization and your patron - is the moment when they pull out their wallet and make the payment. If that’s the same moment you introduce fees for the first time, and the price you’re asking them to pay increases by 10, 15%, that trust is broken,” says Spektrix co-founder & CEO Michael Nabarro, who was running a theater in Cambridge, England in 2007 when he realized there must be an easier and better solution to build connections between venues and their audiences. Since then, Spektrix has focused on creating ticketing, marketing and fundraising technology with those vital relationships at its heart.

“Though some audiences might still pay to see an artist or show they love, a lack of price transparency erodes audience trust and has a long term customer loyalty impact,” adds James Menezes, the newly appointed VP, Client Success for North America. “Customers may be less likely to attend, to donate, or to add merchandise items, because they’re already over budget on the fees.”

In 2020 we wrote about Customer Friendly Policies as part of Building Blocks for Reopening, our guide to making the most of your CRM system as the arts sector began emerging from the pandemic. While we’re not legal experts, we are experts in online ticketing, so we've identified three key practices that will help you promote events and booking journeys that are compliant, secure and trustworthy, building great customer experiences and ultimately improving relationships and revenue.

Download our advice to build lasting audience connections through clear, customer-friendly policies, extending the positive experience you offer at your venue into your patrons’ online experience.

Download: Customer Friendly Policies

 

3 Steps to Comply with NY Ticketing Law

 

Display ticket or transaction fees upfront

“Disclose the total cost of the ticket, inclusive of all ancillary fees that must be paid … and disclose in a clear and conspicuous manner [the total price of the ticket and] the portion of the ticket price … that represents a service charge, or any other fee or surcharge to the purchaser … prior to the ticket being selected for purchase.”

In other words, the true cost of a ticket must be upfront and obvious in the booking pathway from the beginning. This includes full transparency of any transaction or processing fees, rather than hiding fees in terms and conditions. The only exception is for fees related to a specific delivery option, such as a charge for mailing out tickets. More on that later.

Similar legislation has been in place in the UK for some time. This is how Spektrix users across the pond ensure transparency to ticket buyers.

 

Before the booking journey

In printed materials like posters and season brochures, show a single price or price range inclusive of all fees. This will also work on your what's on pages or live event listings, before customers click 'Book Now' to enter the purchase path.

A 'Book Now' button with prices showing as 'From £26.75'Elsewhere on the site, there's more detail provided of the Theatre Support Fee - link below

In the UK, Victoria Theatre in West Yorkshire presents mainly one-night events. They list a single 'From £26.75' price point on their top level listings, linking out to further detail elsewhere in their brochure and website. They also explain clearly why their Theatre Support Fee is important and invite patron feedback.

 

Listing showing prices for different event dates, concession details and an explanation of fees on a single page

With longer runs, Soho Theatre in London lists out price points for different event dates on their website and provides detail of discounts and commissions in the text block to the left.

 

Within the booking journey

Once a customer enters the online booking journey, you may need to be a little more specific. This is your last opportunity to disclose full pricing to ticket buyers ‘prior to the ticket being selected for purchase’.

Set up your ticketing system to itemize ticket commissions, then explore ways to show both the ticket value and the cost of any fees. How you approach this will vary depending on the number of price bands and concessions you offer, but here are some approaches already in use in the US which we think work particularly well.

A grid showing multiple price points and concessions with itemized service charges

In Arizona, Fox Tucson Theatre itemize prices for multiple seating areas beside their seating chart, showing the complete price up front and then informing customers how much of that figure is a service charge.

Two River price picklist

At the start of the purchase path, patrons at Two River Theater in New Jersey select the number of tickets they'd like. The complete price is listed to the right, and again it's immediately evident how much of that price is made up by the service charge.

Two River Theater show service charges alongside the inclusive grand total on the checkout screen

Before checkout, Two River's patrons have another chance to see the complete value of their cart with the service charge included in the Grand Total and itemized in a smaller font beneath it.

 

Setting it up in your ticketing system

If you’re using a ticketing system like Spektrix that allows you to configure patrons’ booking journeys on your own site, you can work with your web developers to present your own pricing and fee structure, taking inspiration from the examples above. If you’re working with a system in which transactions are completed on a different domain - often called a white-label site - you may have less control, and you’ll need to verify what steps your ticketing provider is taking to comply with the new legislation.

In Spektrix, you can configure ticket commissions to apply and display exactly as you wish across confirmation emails, seating plans and price lists. If you have complex pricing structures, you may need to work with your web developer to ensure this information is presented as clearly as possible. Here’s how to set up or adjust your ticket commissions.




The ticket price should not increase during the purchase process

“Disclosures of subtotals, fees, charges, and any other component of the total price shall not be false or misleading, and may not be presented more prominently or in the same or larger size as the total price. The price of the ticket shall not increase during the purchase process.”

We’ve all been tempted by an airline or big arena show advertising tickets for $100, only to find ourselves paying an additional $50 or $60 in service charges, processing fees and more. These kinds of predatory ticket prices are exactly what Senator James Skoufis and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell set out to overcome with this bill. Mr. O’Donnell says that the change, “Creates a fair playing field for all those in the industry, and makes sure event goers have transparent and easy access to tickets and protections against bad actors.”

While this legislation won’t protect you against poor artistry on stage, the last thing your theater needs is to be associated with bad anything. To set yourself apart and build customer trust, make sure your total price is displayed clearly and consistently throughout the booking journey, and that the highest or total price is the most visible of all.

With Spektrix, customers stay on your website, from your What's On page right through to confirmation. But if your patrons are taken off your site to check out on a different domain, you'll need to work with both your own web developers and your ticketing provider to provide this level of consistency. Learn how you and your web developers can fully control the buyer's experience and the appearance of each step in the booking process.

This documentation is intended for your web developers and will help them style the information on your checkout pages. As a Spektrix user, don’t forget that our Client Success team is here to help if you have any further questions, and that we’re happy to chat to venue teams or directly to web developers to help you get ready for the new bill.

 

Delivery fees should be reasonable and transparent

“Reasonable fees for the delivery of non-electronic tickets … shall be disclosed prior to accepting payment.”

Simply put, you can’t add fees for electronic ticket delivery but you can apply reasonable charges for fulfillment methods that involve an actual cost to you - such as printing or mailing out paper tickets. Again, the fees must be quoted clearly so your customers are able to make an informed decision about their preferred method of delivery.

In your ticketing system, check the settings for different delivery methods to ensure you’re not adding charges for electronic/print at home tickets and to adjust the fees for other delivery methods if you think they might be considered ‘unreasonable’. In Spektrix, you can do this by setting up transaction commissions.

 

Helping you prepare for the Ticket Price Transparency bill

Spektrix is committed to helping arts, culture and live entertainment organizations succeed. We’re happy to share more of what we know about supporting users to comply with similar legislation outside the States, and we’d love to hear your ideas for turning this legislation into an opportunity to improve your patrons’ booking experience.

If you’re already using Spektrix, get in touch with our Client Success team. We’re happy to support you or your web developers to make any changes you need.

If you’re not using Spektrix, we’re still here to help. As a certified B Corporation, we’re invested in the success of the arts sector.

 

Get in touch to talk to one of our CRM and ticketing experts about implementing these changes in your organization.

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