9.5 Tips to Set Up Your Next High-Demand Onsale for Success

December 17, 2022

You've set the date, programmed the event, and hyped up the fans. All that’s left to do is sell the tickets.

Big sales out the gate should be a celebration, not a headache. Yet, nothing’s quite the nail-biter like the minutes leading up to a high-demand on-sale. Our job is to help you stay as cool, calm, and collected as possible in the process.Before you go live, set your event up for success with these 9.5 tips for running a buttery smooth onsale.

1. Set ticket limits

Make sure you're capping the number of tickets each fan can buy in proportion to your capacity. By doing so, you're giving more fans an opportunity to experience your event while disincentivizing scalpers.Hosting a massive underplay? Set a 2-ticket limit. For clubs and theaters, we recommend 4 max. Large-scale events like festivals should go with 6 — the industry standard.

2. Turn on CAPTCHA

Activate CAPTCHA in your event settings to distinguish people from machines. The simple security layer stops bots in their tracks and helps you ensure tickets end up in human hands.

3. Start a waitlist

When you’ve got the hottest ticket in town, use our built-in Waitlist to capture true demand. At the very least, you can gauge whether there’s enough interest to add another night or weekend.You'll also be able to control your inventory and give fans a glimmer of hope that there's still a chance. If you plan to release more tickets, you'll already have reservations on hand. And, if someone's plans change, you can offer seamless refunds and reissue verified tickets to the next person in line.If you know tickets will blow out instantly, you could also turn the onsale on its head and let fans pre-authorize their cards for a shot at tickets. Then, you select who gets access while capturing true demand and keeping scalpers out.

4. Turn on tier progression

Maximize your onsale's revenue potential with tiered pricing. Let live cart data dynamically trigger the next price tier based on available inventory.Start by giving your tiers creative names that differentiate each one and make price increases obvious. Say that "Eager Beaver" is your cheapest tier with the lowest threshold. Once fans cart every "Eager Beaver" ticket, the next price tier activates, and the old one vanishes. Rinse and repeat!Pro-Tip: Pair tier progression with Waitlist. That way, once you've blown through your inventory, you'll be accepting reservations at the highest price point.

5. Rally fan support

Make 100% sure our Fan Support team knows your event policies before you go live. That way, we can quickly assist fans and seamlessly answer questions when emotions run hot.If you’d rather have your own team triage inquiries, double-check that you’ve updated your support contact email in Studio.

6. Get fans in seats, fast

When you expect to sell a large volume of assigned seats all at once, use event-level reserved settings to your advantage. You want your event build to work for you, rather than against you!

Seat selection expiration: Consider everything you’re selling and how much time you think a fan will really need to review and check out. Once you have that number, reduce it to drive urgency. No one wants seats stuck in escrow that prevent new sales and ultimately get released. Our recommendation: 4-6 minutes max.

Orphan and consecutive seats: Prevent single-seat stragglers, but keep sales moving, with orphan seat leniency. By selecting "lenient," our system knows to accept a sale when there's no other choice. You'll also want to enforce consecutive seat purchasing to keep seats next to each other.

Pick-a-seat seat selection: Letting fans choose seats in a high-demand onsale is a (not-so-fun) game of whack-a-mole for everyone involved. It’s better to disable pick-a-seat at the onset, then turn it back on once traffic dies down.

Best available seat selection: Use best available seat selection strategically. Make your decision based on your seat map's complexity and the price variances between sections. Think about it like this:

Want fans to get the closest available seats to the stage (or focal point) no matter what? Enable best available. When there aren’t a ton of options to choose from or prices don’t vary much between zones, this makes total sense.

Got a complex seat map with a bunch of ticket types or drastic price differences? Disable both pick-a-seat and best available. Disabling both means fans get the best available tickets by zone, rather than the venue, based on the ticket type they select.

7. Prep access codes

Hosting a repeat event? Reward loyalty by running a direct sale to past purchasers. Give past customers access codes to unlock tickets or special offers before the general onsale.

8. Triple-check settings

Go over your event build — settings, prices, fees, dates, etc. — with a fine-tooth comb to reduce game-day surprises. Run test transactions to make sure your ticket prices, custom forms, and checkout flow work exactly as you’d expect. A tiny mistake can snowball into a massive issue in a matter of seconds.

9. Have a game plan

Stay organized with a clear plan for how you'll monitor the onsale together. Doing so will help you keep your team focused in the moment and reduce thrash.

Start with a shared doc that has all important dates, times, and details, like access codes and promo codes, in it. Document your marketing audiences and any special messaging they received from you.

When the big moment arrives, divide and conquer. Assign a person to watch real-time sales and communicate the status to the wider team. Have someone else watch your social and support channels. Be waiting in the wings if you need to update your event build on the fly. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Bonus: Use will call pickup strategically

If you’re selling any high-value tickets like VIP tables or travel packages, describe them accurately and consider Will Call pickup only. In-person pickup prevents pre-show scalping, reduces no-shows, and refutes “service not received” chargebacks.

Let’s tackle your next onsale together. Schedule a demo of our advanced ticketing innovations that are changing how tickets get sold.