Fair Season Survival: Five Things You Need to Know
By Paul Laughter, guest blogger
Peak fair season is almost upon us! Are you prepared to have a successfully ticketed event? Here is a quick checklist to keep you on track.
1. NETWORK/INTERNET CONNECTIVITY
If your ticketing system is web-based (SaaS), you will need a constant connection to the Internet. Whether you’re a small fair with two gates or a large one with 20 gates, make sure your IT staff communicates with your ticketing company before the fair opens. Your ticketing system needs its own dedicated bandwidth; you don’t want your ticketing system competing with vendors or the public for access to the Internet. If all parties are connecting to the Internet through the same data pipeline, it’s best to set up a private network dedicated to your ticketing system and set aside the appropriate bandwidth needed.
Important to remember: WIRED IS BETTER THAN WIRELESS. If you test your ticketing system on a wireless network before the fair starts, chances are everything will work great during testing. But if you factor in thousands of people with mobile phones, Midway rides, and wireless microphones on concert stages, you will have a different—and not so pleasant scenario.
Always try to work with a wired connection (i.e., Ethernet). If wireless is your only option, make sure your IT staff works with your ticketing company to make the best decision about where to place wireless access points.
2. HARDWARE, TICKET STOCK, & CREDENTIAL CARDS
Have you requested all hardware needs to print and validate tickets and credentials? Have you ordered enough blank ticket stock and credential cards? Make sure you give your ticketing company at least a month’s notice on your hardware and ticket stock needs.
If this is the first year with your ticketing system, make sure you give yourself, staff, and volunteers ample time to be trained. After you master the basics, designate a few staff members as administrative users who will continue with training beyond the initial sessions so they can become your organization’s ticketing experts.
Future training sessions can be led in-house by your administrative users at your leisure. This is especially useful if you’re bringing in volunteers or seasonal workers just before your event starts and need to get them comfortable with the software quickly.
4.TICKETS AND PRICING
Double check your ticket pricing, and make sure you’re not missing any ticket types like Adult, Child, Senior, Military, Student, and Comp. Confirm your tickets are scheduled to go on sale and off sale (online and in the box office) on the exact dates and times you requested.
Are your ticket delivery methods set up the way you want them? For online tickets, did you want print-at-home, will call, mail delivery, and/or mobile delivery? Most ticketing systems can scan the barcode on your patrons’ smartphones, which is why print-at-home and mobile delivery are popular options.
One last check: make sure your box office selling stations can print tickets on demand, as well as take will-call orders (especially if orders are taken by phone) so you can print your orders later in bulk.
Last but certainly not least, make sure you have all your ducks in a row for tech support during your event. If you are not planning for onsite ticketing support during your event, have your ticketing company’s tech support numbers handy at all times. The most efficient way to get help is to contact tech support directly; your sales rep should provide tech support contact information for you in advance.
If tech support staff from your ticketing company will be onsite during the Fair, make sure to touch base with those folks to work out logistical details. Here’s a quick list of things to check off:
- Assist with lodging/hotel needs.
- Set up air-conditioned office space with plenty of power outlets and internet access, and provide golf carts and parking passes.
- Set up appropriate keys/access cards to all locations tech support staff will need, like box offices, server rooms, and admin buildings. This will allow the support team to quickly assist with any issues that come up.
I hope you have a prosperous 2018 FAIR SEASON!
Paul Laughter, Director of Sales—Fairs, Festivals, and Expos