A few weeks ago, I hosted the ninth edition of my little reading series, Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids. For the very first time, I decided to make it a paid, ticketed event, with the proceeds going to Frontier College.
During school, I had a part-time job in school at the now-closed Empire Theatres in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Sadly, none of the ticket-selling experise I gained there was applicable to this situation. So, based on a recommendation from Ariel (of Salon of Shame fame), I turned to Brown Paper Tickets. They’re based out of Seattle, but sell tickets in Canada, too. BPT calls themselves “the first and only fair-trade ticketing company.” They work on a Not-Just-For-Profit model.
Essentially, they’re like TicketMaster, but not evil. Overall, I was really impressed with the service from BPT.
- Very easy-to-use website
- Willing to do small events
- They handled all the payment stuff
- Prompt customer service
- Super-cool, official-looking, high-quality printed tickets (with gold foil!)
- Bulk ordered pre-printed tickets showed up late
It was a breeze to set up the event on BPT. The site walked me through everything. My event was relatively simple, but I got the sense that there’s a powerful backend to their system, with lots of configurable options.
Willing to do small events
Part of why I wanted GRTTWaK9 to be ticketed was to keep it small. Past events had grown too big, with too many people crammed into a small venue. I knew I wanted to sell 100 advance tickets through BPT, hold 20 tickets for readers, and 20 for rush tickets. Total: 140 tickets. It was great that there’s no minimum event size. BPT was willing to sell 100 tickets for me, or 10,000. Nice to see a service scale like that.
Honestly, I was worried about the added complication of dealing with money. But BPT handled everything. Everything. I simply pointed people to my event page, and they managed the money side of things. Less than a week after GRTTWaK9, a cheque arrived in my mailbox, and the proceeds were off to Frontier College. Easy peasy.
I had to deal with customer service twice. Once, via email, I asked how to set a per-person ticket purchase limit on the event. I got a prompt response from a human being named Jon:
Setting the per ticket limit is something that we will need to assist you with. It is very quick and easy, but it looks like that is not currently one of the tools that is available on your end of the site. Hopefully that will be added to your control in one of the next few website updates. In the mean time, let me know what you would like the per purchase limits to be, and I would be more than happy to assist you with that.
I replied with the limit, and Jon set it for me. Awesome.
Later, when my pre-printed tickets didn’t show up (more on that later), I telephoned the toll-free number, and reached another actual human being (sorry, can’t remember her name) who was also very helpful.
BPT offers a few options for ticketbuyers. I chose two: you could have a printed ticket, or your name added to a will-call list at the door.
The printed tickets were super cool. I mean, just look at them in the photo above. For a tiny little event like GRTTWaK, it was a real thrill to have a physical momento of the night. Gold foil! Barcodes! Perforations! Mysterious alphanumeric codes!
My one problem
This probably has more to do with living in Canada than BPT, but I’ll mention it for the benefit of anyone ordering bulk tickets outside the US. I wanted printed tickets for the rush ticket-buyers and the readers, so I ordered 25 pre-printed rush tickets, and 25 pre-printed reader tickets. They were ten cents apiece, but the shipping was $15. They shipped USPS Priority.
I ordered my tickets on September 21, and the ETA was September 24. Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive until October 5, the day after the event. Maybe they got stuck at the border. Maybe they were abducted by aliens. Who knows. Anyhow, if you plan to do a bulk order of pre-printed tickets, I suggest you order them well in advance.
I was really, really pleased with Brown Paper Tickets, and would recommend them to anyone who wants a one-stop solution for a small event. Great service. I’ll definitely use them again.