by Mike MacPherson, Director of Sales and Marketing for VBO Tickets
2021 was supposed to be the year that we were hoping for everything to return to normal. Then came Delta, Delta+ and, our current nemesis, Omicron. For the event industry, this means a continued patchwork of local regulations, some demographics that may not show up due to fears of being infected, and uncertainty all around. The good news is that no one is seriously talking of shutting down all ticketed events again. The show must go on, after all, even if it needs to be a virtual event.
Here are three best practices for safely moving forward in 2022 – and beyond.
1. Define venue capacity limits.
When local health officials set capacity limits on venues or large gatherings in response to the pandemic, the venue can use our VBO Tickets software to set the percentage of tickets they want to sell for the event in order to stay in compliance. For example, if your venue normally holds 200 seats, but the regulation is at 50% of capacity, you can specify that only 100 seats can be sold and our software takes care of the rest. When a patron is selecting seats on your seating map within the ticket buying interface on your website, they will see a message at the top that explains there is a capacity limit of 100, as well as how many seats are still available. Once this limit is reached, no more seats can be sold. This is a terrific way to stay transparent with local authorities and your patrons, as well as automate reopening events without the need to manually remove seats from your venue’s seating map.
2. Reopen events with social distancing.
Of course, the whole point of capacity limits is to make sure that guests from different households remain socially distanced, so the VBO Tickets software platform also lets you adjust the number of enforced empty seats between those that have already been purchased. As a ticket buyer, when viewing the seating map within the ticket buying interface, you can select as many seats next to each other as you like. But once those seats are selected, another ticket buyer–who’s also selecting seats on their own computer or phone–will see non-selectable seats to the left and right of the seats sold. This is, again, a transparent way to stay within local regulations without risking confusion or confrontations from your patrons. And promoters no longer need to manually hide or disable seats in order to meet social distancing guidelines.
3. Sell merchandise ahead of time.
A final concern with reopening events during a pandemic is the process of patrons buying food and merchandise once they’re at the venue. With improper social distancing at vendor stations, large crowds can easily develop, putting the health and safety of patrons at risk within your venue. To alleviate this concern, VBO Tickets suggests selling merchandise and even food ahead of time, when patrons buy their tickets online. Once a patron checks out through the white label VBO Tickets plugin on your website, for example, they’ll have an e-ticket displaying their seats as well as any merchandise they’ve purchased. At the event itself, your staff can access each patron’s ticket information and deliver to them their merchandise or food, while they remain seated. (It’s worth noting that international airlines have been using this system for duty-free shopping for years, and it’s worked seamlessly.) Alternatively, when a patron’s ticket is scanned at the door, their merchandise and/or food order will automatically appear and they could therefore be handed their purchases upon entry.
Either way, selling merchandise and food ahead of time rather than forcing patrons to queue a second (or third) time creates a smoother and safer live event experience when reopening.
Mike MacPherson is the Director of Sales and Marketing for VBO Tickets. Mike is a passionate, proven leader of sales and marketing, with three decades of successful experience in motivating and leading sales/marketing teams. His most recent success was helping guide VBO Tickets through the dramatic circumstances resulting in the shutdown of event venues and ticketing sales in response to safety measures from the Covid-19 pandemic.