Not everyone looking to sell tickets online is an event planning and promoting expert, though. In fact, often those put in charge of hosting a show, conference or class are new to the world of event planning, and the vast majority of these events aren’t attracting crowds the size of sold-out stadiums.
That’s where solutions like Eventzilla come in. In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Muthu Kumar, founder and CEO of the online ticketing and event planning platform, explained that when formulating a business plan ahead of the firm’s 2009 launch, the company decided not to compete with online ticketing giants. It instead focused on getting people through the doors at small-scale events.
To do so, Eventzilla built a platform that could not only process ticket purchases, get tickets into the hands of attendees and pay event planners, but also offer an additional suite of features to help inexperienced event planners get their events off the ground.
“Ticketing was becoming a very common thing, so we tried to go deeper into the vertical to serve these smaller events,” Kumar said. “We decided to focus on things like conferences, classes, fundraisers and other small events, and that’s how we tried to differentiate ourselves from Ticketmaster and the other 10,000 companies and platforms in this space.”
Helping event planning novices
Because the company primarily serves smaller event organizers, Eventzilla has a particular set of challenges it needs to tackle. After all, many who use the platform have never planned an event before, so Kumar and his team have worked to offer a suite of features to help them. These so far include marketing services, onsite ticket sales, ticket scanning capabilities and event check-in features like name badge creation for conferences.
“Most of the organizers we work with aren’t professional event planners,” he said. “They just happen to be taking this on as part of their jobs, as part of their responsibilities, which means they might not know anything about event planning, really. So, when it comes to managing registration or other elements of the event itself, we also have to hold their hands a little bit there.”
The Eventzilla team also looked to build a system to make the ticket sale and payment process as easy as possible. That includes giving organizers a wide array of payment options, and enabling them to accept payments via half a dozen payment networks — including PayPal, Stripe and Braintree.
The company also created its own payment acceptance engine, Eventzilla Payment, in collaboration with payment processor WePay. It is designed to save event organizers on processing fees, which, in turn, allows them to offer slightly cheaper tickets. It also enables organizers to be paid as each ticket is purchased, rather than waiting until all tickets are sold or after the event occurs, as is the case with most event planning platforms.
“We saw the opportunity to monetize the payments space of our platform, so we started speaking with white- label payment solutions ... before eventually settling on WePay,” Kumar said. “Originally, when we launched this, the vast majority of customers used PayPal, but now I would say it’s roughly a 50/50 or 60/40 split.”
An integrated suite of services
A new payments system isn’t the only change to come to Eventzilla in the nine years since its founding, though. The event ticketing space has moved further online in the past years, with industry giants debuting new online and mobile-connected features for their big-name events.
While Eventzilla targets smaller event organizers rather than big players, it has still felt pressure to add new features to its platforms — particularly from customers whose expectations have been lifted by the big names in the space.
“When we first started out, we had a group of features and thought everyone would use them, and that those were the only features we would ever need,” Kumar said. “But, in the years since, we’ve learned that really isn’t the case.”
In addition to creating its own suite of payment acceptance and event planning services, Eventzilla has also looked to partner with other service providers. It offers integrations with popular work ow management, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation services such as Salesforce and Mailchimp, and social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Most recently, Eventzilla partnered with integration services provider Zapier to give event organizers access to more than 1,000 other integrations. That partnership is the latest in what has been an ongoing effort to broaden the features it offers and focus on those that matter most to its customers.
Next on the docket is the debut of an app customers can use to buy and store mobile tickets, enabling them to gain access to events via their mobile devices.
Eventzilla previously offered an app for event organizers only, and planned to continue to do so going forward. The company changed its tune after receiving demand from those looking to give their attendees access to additional features and capabilities — much the same way that Ticketmaster ticket holders can use mobile tickets and other features at event sites.
After all, even small-scale events sometimes require large-scale solutions.