Event booking systems

If your organisation occasionally or frequently runs conferences, seminars, webinars, educational talks or any kind of event – online or off – you could be simplifying your life with an online event booking system.

Commonly used systems

  • Eventbrite – fees are 2.5% + AU99c (to a maximum of US$9.95/ticket). Non-profits pay 2% of ticket price +AU99c. Credit card processing costs an extra 3% of ticket cost and there are no fees if tickets are free. Eventbrite is one of the more sophisticated event booking services online. Its data integrates well with Salesforce, which is useful if you’re using that CRM, and its analytics program is useful even if you don’t have a CRM. Users report that the system is easy to use. However, Eventbrite processes its finances in the US and some Australian users report getting a big international transaction fee from their bank: check with your bank first before signing up to use the service.
  • Trybooking – fees are 0% + 30c. Non-profits can apply to have these fees refunded to them as a donation. There is also a 2.1% + 50c fee for credit card transactions (not refunded). No charge if tickets are free. Trybooking is an Australian service.
  • EventArc – fees are 3% +$1 to a maximum of $15/ticket. Credit card fees are 2.5%. No charge for free events. If you already have a merchant account for processing credit cards they can integrate with that for a one-off fee ($395). There are no special prices for non-profits, but EventArc is an Australian service and has proved popular with lots of local NFPs.
  • Facebook events – If your organisation has a Facebook page and you only intend to run occasional events which don’t require ticketing, just marketing, you can set up an event via Facebook. This will let you publicise your event, provide a map, encourage your networks to spread the word, get RSVPs, and update anyone who has RSVPd. You won’t be able to take payment or provide tickets.

Selecting a system for your organisation

Is this a one-off? If it’s a free event and you don’t need firm numbers (for example, if you’re not catering, or the event is in a park rather than somewhere seated), Facebook events will probably do the trick.
If you don’t need full integration with your site, but do need to set an upper limit on registrations, or have different kinds of ticket prices, one of the other services listed above is better. They will control how many people book in to the event, set different ticket prices (including early-bird prices), control how many tickets one purchaser can buy, allocate seating if necessary, send attendees confirmation emails and printable tickets, and keep track of payments for you. They will also report statistics back to you, though this may not be particularly sophisticated.
If you have a client relationship management system and you intend to run a suite of large or complex events with sophisticated ticketing requirements, it might be worth talking to your CRM provider or an independent developer about whether it’s possible to integrate events into your system.