Last week, as part of the launch for Creative Commons Qatar (it’s amazing how I can work that into so many posts!), we had three events planned. The first was the main launch at the Museum of Islamic Art and the other two work Remixing Workshops being held at Virginia Commonwealth University-Qatar. For each event, the organizers needed an estimate on numbers for catering, seating, supplies, etc., and we needed to be sure we didn’t have too many RSVPs for the venues to accommodate (or too few, making the event feel empty). Eventbrite made this process oh so easy.
If you’re not familiar with Eventbrite, you probably soon will be. Back in May, Eventbrite announced that they had raised $50 million in venture capital, leading the New York Times to declare that they were about to truly take on Ticketmaster, the evil giant of ticketing (curse you huge fees!). Eventbrite’s CEO Kevin Hart says that his organization has a different, broader focus than Ticketmaster, but it is easy to see why people might suspect Eventbrite has grand plans.
When it was first launched in 2006, Eventbrite was primarily functioning as an online ticketing channel for small scale events – think local talks, poetry jams, etc. Now Eventbrite has grown into a site that can handle a 60,000 person event, currently coordinating the ticketing for a summer Black Eyed Peas concert in Central Park. To handle this, the system must be good.
So how does it work? You simply create an account (free) and start planning your event. You enter date, time, location and event details – all your event planning basics. Next you decide on the tickets you will offer. For all my Creative Commons Qatar events, we weren’t charging admission – they were free – so I simply chose a free general admission ticket. You can however choose to charge for your events through Eventbrite and set up a variety of ticket types (lawn seats, front stage, etc.), and the site makes it very easy to accept credit card orders. This is of course where Eventbrite makes its money. For paid ticketed events, Eventbrite charges 99 cents per ticket sold plus 2.5 percent of total sales. Much, much less than Ticketmaster would charge you! (I will admit Ticketmaster does handle complicated ticketing and seat assignments very well).
Once you have your event details set and ticketing options identified, you can post your event live. Eventbrite makes it easy to blast the invitation to a pre-existing list, but the true beauty of the site is its seamless integration with social media. You and all the guests tweet about it, share the link on Facebook or post it to contacts on LinkedIn. This is how things spread virally!
During the set-up phase, you can identify exactly what information a guest needs to enter to register (name, email, phone, address, etc.), and as the RSVPs roll in, you are building an excellent outreach list. This was very important for me with Creative Commons Qatar as we are working to develop a strong contact list.
Once guests register, they are emailed a ticket, which they are instructed to print and bring with them to the event. For free events, I have found that this actually decreases your number of no-shows, helping you get a more accurate head count. Also, each ticket has a barcode on it, so with a small investment, you can purchase a scanner and track your attendees without painfully checking people off a list. It certainly makes the day-of-event check-in process easier and more productive.
Regardless of whether you are planning a high-scale ticketed fundraiser or an indie poetry jam at a local coffee house, Eventbrite is certainly a site to consider for your ticketing needs. I have found it amazingly easy to use and the lists it helps to create are invaluable. The only drawback for me was my constant need to check RSVPs every 10 minutes – such a nervous party planner! I expect some more interesting features to comes to Eventbrite soon and Ticketmaster may just have found a worthy adversary!