If running an event or course, online booking and payment options are standard offerings – you can either set up your own booking forms and merchant gateway or use a one-stop-shop third-party platform. I’ve used the Eventbrite booking gateway for my Australian courses, but not any more. Here are my main beefs…
If you’re running a low-ticket cost event, the fees are what they are: acceptable. But if you are selling higher cost tickets, e.g. $300 plus, the fees add up in a hurry. If you use their credit card processing facility – the main reason many people would use a platform such as Eventbrite at all – a $500 ticket will incur a fee of $27.45 (2.5% plus $0.99 per ticket to a max of $9.95 plus 3.5% of ticket value). Selling 10 plus tickets will whack a dent in your sales revenue. There should be a sliding fee structure for higher priced events.
Five Days to Payout (and the rest).
A five business day payout after the completion of the event is in the terms and conditions, but… the five day period starts in US time, i.e. an event run on Wednesday in Australia, is Tuesday in San Francisco – so Eventbrite doesn’t start the count until Thursday, Australian time. Five business days becomes eight normal days; and add an extra day to that if there’s a bank holiday in the US. And of course the international transfer itself can add another day or two. There appears no reason to sit on the money this long except to gather maximum interest on other people’s money.
Extra Fees from ANZ & HSBC
If a person makes a booking using Eventbrite’s processing facility using an ANZ or HSBC credit card that person gets charged an additional ‘foreign processing fee’ of $20-25. I have had to refund this fee to close to 20 people in the past who have booked my courses using these cards. Both ANZ and HSBC say the problem is with the credit card providers; the credit card providers say it’s a bank charge. Eventbrite, despite being told about this problem in Australia have ignored it. This is fundamentally an Eventbrite issue and they need to sort it – being their apologist is no fun.
Over The Top Self-Promotion
Sure, if you’re running a free event you should expect some form of provider self-promotion, but not when hundreds of dollars of fees are being paid. The ‘Powered by Eventbrite’ branding and self-serving calls to action on all of their (your) ticketing touch-points are anything but discreet. You could forgive a person for thinking they were about to attend an Eventbrite event.
At the Myer Christmas windows last December I Instagrammed the big mechanical Gingerbread Cat above against a reflection of the buildings opposite. I applied a filter (Mayfair) and the ‘Myer Christmas Windows’ geo-tag. But I hesitated on the hashtag – there was nothing to indicate what the ‘official’ Myer Christmas Windows tag was. Where was the designated tag that the Myer online marketing folk would surely have wanted me and others to use to make it easy for us to collectively share our window viewing experiences on our Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts? You know, to encourage online sharing and buzz around their branded, off-line event.
Left up to my own devices I started with logic: #myerchristmaswindows2013 made sense but seemed ridiculously long (and to bolt the year on the end or not?). Or should I use something in keeping with the theme of the windows for that year, e.g. #gingerbreadfriends? No, too vague. Maybe #myerxmas? Or #myergingerbread? No, too ambiguous. In the interests of time I settled on #gingerbread – yes, pretty lame.
The lack of an obvious hashtag to use effectively fractured the Myer Christmas Windows viewing community. It’s unlikely the majority of us would ever discover each other’s images and tweets – and that’s a shame. Today, the social back-channel streams of content and engagement serve to enhance the traditional front-channel, live activity. In short it’s fun sharing a common experience online with strangers (and absent friends).
If you’re hosting your own event, give thought to prominently displaying a unique hashtag for your quests or visitors to use. It’ll take the guesswork out of the process for them, facilitate a sense of community, and make it easier for you to respond to anyone who has been so kind as to share your (branded) moment with others. Then run a hashtag search during or after the event on a multi-platform search engine such as Tagboard and collate the very best of what was posted. These branded, earned social media assets are gold – recycle the best of them through your own social media platforms.
Ideas for hashtag placement:
On any marketing hardcopy collateral leading up to an event
Geo-locational social media platforms such as Foursquare may not yet have come of age, but they’re not far off this mark. If you’re associated with the organisation of large public events you need to start getting your arms around this new branch of social media; ideally leading through to a fully mapped promotion and engagement strategy as part of every event.
The 2011 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne over the weekend was an interesting study through the Foursquare lens. Here are a few observations:
Would the Real Listing Please Stand Up.
4SQ allows transient events to be created and tagged as easily as it does permanent physical locations. 4SQ also has no way of knowing which, if any, is the official listing – anybody can create a one. The platform permits multiple listings created by individuals at different physical locations, or different listing names at more or less the same physical location (this is going to become a bun fight down the line – it’ll be interesting to see how 4SQ mitigates this confusion).
Over the life of the 2011 Melbourne GP, three separate listings were created which pertained to the track and the event:
– ‘Australian FI Grand Prix 2011’
– ‘australian grand prix’
– ‘Melbourne QANTAS Formula 1 Gr…’ (only 30 +/- characters and spaces will display)
It turns out that the second listing ‘australian grand prix’ was most likely the official one – there were two indicators for this:
1. They were offering ‘Flash Specials’
2. GP event staff were registered on their admin page (the function of ‘employee’ 4SQ registrations is so staff can’t obtain the mayoralship and other privileges, but can still check-in).
Unfortunately, this listing was created all in lower case – it didn’t look very official. The ‘Australian FI Grand Prix 2011’ listing with its upper casing and the year displayed looked a lot more like the real deal. The third listing got very little attention throughout the event, but interestingly mentions the principal sponsor, Qantas.
It’s important to note that when a person checks into a 4SQ location (or event) the title of the listing travels through their social networks: 4SQ, which in turn is then commonly sydndicated through to Twitter. If I were an event sponsor, I’d insist on my brand name appearing in the listing title to maximise exposure across the various channels.
By Sunday afternoon at the height of the race there were approximately 130 people checked in to the unofficial listing, ‘Australian FI Grand Prix 2011’. By comparison, the official ‘australian grand prix’ listing had around 25 check-ins. The Qantas tagged listing had fewer than 10 (if I were a gambling man I’d confidently bet that these numbers will increase 10-20 fold by the time the 2012 Melb GP rolls around).
I suspect that when people are confronted with multiple listings at an event, one listing will get to the tipping point first, and will then dominate – people tend to check in to the listing with the most check-ins (when given a choice people will gravitate to the busier of two restaurants). Additionally, for many 4SQ fans the opportunity to earn a ‘swarm badge’ would certainly have swayed their choice (swarm badges are hard to come by and coveted – they are unlocked when 50 or more people check in at the same place within a certain time-frame).
The official listing ran a flash special over each of the two days (see below). Specials are a great way to incentivise people do something with a sense of urgency – offers can limited around quantity or time. They also force people to check into the listing to claim the token associated with the special.
Several retailers within proximity of the track had their 4SQ specials heavily promoted throughout the weekend. If I had a retail or service business located close to a public event I would put out a hot event related special to drive foot traffic into my store/ bar/ restaurant/ brothel after the event.
Takeaway Thoughts for Major Event OrganisersWishing to Integrate 4SQ into Their Promotional Program
– Create your event listing at the physical location where it’s going to be held, as early in the day as possible (you’ll need to get someone on the ground to do this).
– Put thought into the event title, especially if important event sponsorship is involved.
– Encourage people to check-in via other social media and off-line display materials (4SQ have a range of downloadable and print-friendly marketing collateral to tap into). Also, display the official listing title so people know which one they should be checking in to.
– Get as many people as you can to check-in early in the day to help establish your listing as the most credible one (maybe offer a series of flash specials at the start of the day to get that critical mass happening).
– Offer flash specials throughout the entirety of the event.
– Encourage people to upload photos (on-the-ground prizes could be offered for the best photo/s submitted).
– Encourage other vendors at the event to offer specials – these will show up as ‘specials nearby’ when somebody checks in.
– Create some ‘to do’s for people to check off as ‘done’– and incentivise people to do them, and/or cross promote your other social media channels (see example below)