Selling tickets for the Chitrangada gala premiere
The premiere will be at the Gold Hall, Square Brussels, an 800-seat auditorium in the centre of Brussels. Originally known as the Palais des Congrès built for the 1952 World Expo, it was renovated recently and reopened in 2009. Its foyers contain original murals by the Belgian painters Delvaux and Magritte. Those attending the premiere will have a rare opportunity to see them.
Before a live, multilingual performance on 23 september of Obhi and Jayanta Chatterjee’s The Story of Gitanjali, which explores the origins of the collection of poetry that led to Tagore’s Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. September 2012 marks the centenary of Tagore completing the English Gitanjali.
Of course, we had to think about how to make so many tickets easily available online without causing a headache on the night when the audience arrives. As a dancer, this is not something I have had to worry about before! However, with Obhi’s help, it has been fascinating to explore all the options now available for online ticketing.
This is what I thought I would share with you. It could be useful for anyone planning to host their own screening of Chitrangada as part of the global premiere or indeed to host screenings of Shyama or Chandalika. Other dancers and theatre groups, etc, might find it useful for their performances too.
Initially, I had thought we would use the online ticketing system provided by Topspin Media. It’s very sophisticated and has been used extensively for anything from major concerts in sports stadiums down to small clubs. It’s even possible to use smartphones to scan tickets when people arrive! However, Topspin charge a 15% fee per ticket to use the system. I thought this would add quite a lot to the price of tickets for the charity gala premiere.
We want to ensure that our audience will not face prohibitively expensive ticket prices. After all, we want to fill the 800-seat hall in Brussels. As I explained in my previous post, we want to use the premiere to raise money for Santiniketan Sishutirtha – and 15% of the revenue from 800 tickets would mean a lot less money for Santiniketan Sishutirtha, even if this 15% includes payment processing fees. So we started to look for alternatives.
After looking around on the internet, we found several cheaper and well-established alternatives. Some offered free smartphone applications to scan tickets. However, in most cases, our problem was they are only able to sell tickets in US dollars.
For the premiere, we wanted a system which could ideally be multilingual, sell tickets in euros, handle reserved seating and allow people to print their tickets themselves with a bar code which could be scanned when they arrive at the hall. Few systems offered this combination, together with low processing charges.
The systems we explored included Eventbrite (2.5% plus €0.75 per ticket plus 3% credit card processing fees), Ticket River (2% plus $0.50 per ticket plus 3.5% or Paypal payment processing fee), Ticketbud ($39.99 flat fee for unlimited tickets + Paypal/Authorize processing fees), TicketLeap (€1.75 per ticket plus payment processing fees), osconcert (open source reserved seating software but flat fee for seating plan plus payment processing fees), Ticket Tailor (low monthly fees depending on number of events plus fees for setting up a seating plan and website integration) and Ticket ABC (5% plus £0.50 per transaction, all inclusive).
We were very tempted by Ticketbud (which can be used free by any events raising money for cancer charities). However, it didn’t seem feasible to use it to offer tickets with seat numbers on them. Ticket Tailor did offer the possibility of reserved seating but couldn’t guarantee us about using their scanning software to scan tickets as people arrived. Ticket Tailor has recently been acquired by TimeOut. So probably things will evolve for them.
In the end, as you’ll have realised, we opted for TicketABC, which is based in Ireland and allows tickets to be sold in a wide variety of currencies. The process of buying tickets is smooth and, rather than using smartphones (which each need an internet connection and may run low on batteries as more and more people arrive), they will provide dedicated scanners. We also didn’t want people to face unavoidable booking fees when buying their tickets. We believe such fees should be included in the ticket price.
TicketABC CEO, Mark McLaughlin, and his team have been very friendly and helpful in setting up the ticketing system for us within a few days using airline-style ticket pricing and several seating zones with different prices.
Initially, ticket prices range from €30 (Lower balcony) to €50 (Stalls A). However, the prices will go up by €5 by midnight on Tuesday and then in steps of €10 until the top price tickets are €75 in the week before the premiere. This way, I hope to encourage people to book early while keeping the prices comparable to similar Brussels events.
As it will be a charity event, and people will be curious to know how much money is being raised for the charity, I need to be completely transparent. So I will be publishing updates of the ticket sales compared to the costs of the evening.
50% of any profits from the evening will go to Santiniketan Sishutirtha. The other 50% will go towards financing our Tagore projects.