Ticketing Your Way to Lower Event Marketing Costs
The Truth About Your Advance Ticket Sales

How to Sell Event Tickets with Service Fees

Sell_event_tickets_service_chargeA few weeks ago, I got into a spirited debate with an event producer on the topic of ticket surcharges. The main point we haggled about was whether to include the service fees in the ticket price. If you want to sell more tickets to your event, it’s important to consider how you present ticket price and service fees to your customer. What seems trivial on the surface can have a huge impact on how many tickets (especially advance tickets) you sell to your event.

Looks the Same - But Completely Different
Here’s how the debate with the event producer went . . . I argued that if you have a $10.00 ticket and a $2 service fee, you should combine everything into one ticket price.  That means the ticket buyer would be presented with a flat $12 ticket with “ALL FEES INCLUDED.” The event producer’s argument was to separate out the service fee. Hence, a $10 ticket with a $2 service fee.  Ultimately, both ways add up to a $12 ticket, but how the consumer internalizes price is very different.  There is a lot of psychology involved in selling tickets for your event, service fees are but one small part. When setting your event ticket and fee prices, carefully consider the buyer’s perspective.

Can you think of anyone you know who enjoys paying a service fee? I can’t! In my experience, it’s easier to sell $12.00 ticket, all fees included, versus the $10.00 ticket with a $2.00 service fee.

A Real World Example
Here’s a real world example . . . The other day I found an event web site that was selling a $20.00 Adult General Admission ticket to their event with a $2.50 convenience fee and a $3.50 handling fee - That’s 30% of the ticket’s value in service fees!  If you want to have your tickets shipped overnight, it costs $30 for handling. The way the service fee structures are set, people are being discouraged from buying tickets online.

Carefully Consider The Customer’s Viewpoint
There is an X-Factor involved with ticket price that you must always keep in mind - Most people won’t complain if your ticket price or service fee is too high . . . They just won’t buy tickets to your event.  Not enough event organizers consider the importance of presenting ticket price to the consumer.  They set it and forget it. You can't afford to make that same mistake.

Constantly consider how a ticket buyer thinks about the event price and service fees.  Based on experience and numerous conversations with event promoters and planners, I can confidently recommend you embed any ticket surcharge into one ticket price. If you have a service fee, include it in the ticket price.

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Jon Stevens

This is an excellent article and I feel you are right about not displaying the fees. Just show a single price.

Do you know of any legal reason why showing the service fees would be required?


Eugene Loj


Thanks for the comment and advice!

- Eugene

David Alger

When we have had outside events or staged performances at other venues our ticket prices increase.

I've received numerous calls asking if people could pre-purchase at our theater to avoid service fees. People hate them.

Even our typical so, we eat the service fee so we can list the price as the price people actually pay.

On a side note, listing with multiple ticketing services often gains additional views for a larger event.

Always, always, always double check your ticketing service. Especially the phone lines to make sure they are giving the correct information.

We use eventbrite and brown paper tickets.

-David Alger

Pan Theater

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