If you're a venue operator that offers tickets to events, you'd doubtless think that a box office operation that includes internet ticket sales, bar-coded tickets for admission control and quick ticket printing by means of a thermal ticket printer is well past your resources and in reality just for the big guys. But not so. Nowadays, the price tag of ticketing applications that lets you to pick and sell tickets directly off an interactive seating chart, records all customer information and transactions in a dedicated database, prints tickets by means of a low cost thermal printer and enables you to easily set up online ticket sales, is very reasonable.
Firstly, the software program. Typically, most software ticketing companies licence the use of the software, so you won't have any large up front acquisition outlay - only a nominal usage charge either set at a fixed amount per ticket or a proportion of the ticket charge, which can be as small as a couple of percent of the ticket price. A few companies may possibly charge for creating a seating chart if you sell reserved seating, or else other companies might apply an initial charge for establishing your system, so it pays to shop around somewhat.
As for equipment, since most box office computer software suppliers host the application on their own servers, you shouldn't require any high powered computer systems, or any additional expensive equipment - simply a regular Computer with a high speed internet service connection will ordinarily suffice.
For ticket printing, you've almost certainly discovered that specialist thermal ticket printers can cost well over $1000 - almost certainly well outside your finances if you merely sell a few thousand tickets per year. But again, you don't need to spend this sort of cash to acquire a perfectly satisfactory thermal ticket printer which will print tickets at a surprisingly fast rate. Some ticketing software systems, along the lines of HandyTix be able to print tickets by means of only a commonly obtainable Dymo LabelWriter 450 which you can generally grab for around $100 or so. For ticket stock, you can find specialist suppliers who can supply stock for these Dymo printers either blank or printed to your precise requirements. Alternatively, a lot of of the ticketing software systems will allow you to print tickets using just a normal laser or inkjet printer. Again there are a number of sources of pre-perforated paper or ticket blanks that you can use to print multiple tickets per page with such printers. Maybe not so expedient as a single ticket thermal ticket printer, however wholly satisfactory if you are on a tight budget.
And if you require the extra precautions of bar-coded tickets, that's no trouble either. These days you can grab a handheld laser scanner for well under $100. Only be certain that your chosen ticketing software supplier is able to print bar codes on tickets. You'll also require a PC and online connection at your venue to log on your live database, although in certain cases you may be able to cut off ticket sales and download the barcode records before your event for offline validation.
And if your box office takes walk-up credit card sales, think about investing in a card swipe reader which is able to make processing credit card transactions a whole lot easier. Such devices can cost as little as $60 and will automatically enter patron names into your database and process the transaction at the same time. But confirm once more that your elected ticketing program can support this kind of equipment.
So there you have it. For not much more than $200 you can have your own advanced box office set up with thermal ticket printer, scanner and web based ticketing, saving you a stack of time, sweat and money.