Museum ticketing software has evolved to handle much more than simply issuing admission tickets. Today, museum ticketing software is a fundamental element of enterprise-wide solutions that manage every aspect of the visitor experience. Data from ticket sales are crucial for understanding attendance and purchase patterns, which make it possible to develop packages and programs with greater appeal.
Curious about how museum ticketing software can help your museum? We’ll take a closer look at the many capabilities that ticketing software can provide to help you determine the best solution for your needs.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is museum ticketing software?
- What are the features of great museum ticketing software?
- What does museum ticketing software look like in action?
We’ll walk you through why you need museum ticketing software, what your tool should accomplish, and features that are essential your museum. Finally, we’ll take a look at how the Buffalo Bayou Park uses robust museum admission software to help control the capacity of their guided tours.
Having the right ticketing tools is an essential part to any great museum software, and it should be able to address many of the challenges that your museum faces. Are you ready to get stared?
Modern museum admission software is designed to serve the needs of two different groups: visitors and museums.
For visitors, museum ticketing software should provide a seamless, personalized experience no matter where or when they buy the ticket. Every visitor interaction—including online ticket sales—should deliver an enjoyable customer experience that’s on-brand, promotes relevant add-ons and, most important, is easy to use.
Giving visitors an easy-to-use experience means that they are much more likely to come back in the future.
For museums, first and foremost, the ideal ticketing solution will make it easy for visitors to purchase tickets anywhere. To allow visitors to schedule a perfect visit, ticket purchases should be fully integrated with everything else your museum offers: memberships, special exhibits, IMAX movies, planetarium shows, tour tickets, special events, educational programs, and even gift shop merchandise.
The ideal ticketing solution should also integrate with your event management tools, so that you can create custom registration forms and manage your attendees. Learn how ticketing software can play a role in your event planning with Doubleknot’s expert guide.
To help you find the right museum ticketing software, we’ll walk you through a few of the high-level features and functions that you’re likely to want in your next museum ticketing system:
- Flexible ticketing and check-in
- Online, on-site and mobile ticket sales and validation
- Member recognition and membership sales
- Custom packages, discounts, and promotions
- Full integration with everything else your museum offers
- Support for impulse donations
- Complete reporting and analytics tools
Combining all of these features into a single tool makes it easy for your team to handle every aspect of your museum ticketing.
Flexible Ticketing Options
Most museums need to support several different kinds of tickets, each with different pricing and capacity restrictions. Your ticketing software should accommodate every kind of ticket you may need to offer.
Some of the types of tickets you’ll need to consider include:
- General admission with different pricing based on age or affiliation (e.g., adult, youth, senior, military etc.)
- Tickets for scheduled tours
- Add-on tickets for special exhibits, IMAX, or any other additional experiences your museum offers
- Group ticketing for school field trips and other kinds of large groups where scanning individual tickets would be time-consuming
- Tickets for events, camps, and classes that are associated with a registration
Dynamic ticket pricing is becoming more common for very popular attractions. If your museum might adopt this approach, be sure that your new ticketing system can handle changing prices to match demand easily.
Online, Onsite and Mobile Ticket Sales and Validation
It goes without saying, your museum’s ticketing solution should support ticket sales at your admissions registers. However, today’s museum visitors expect to be able to buy their tickets online so they can enter immediately upon arrival.
When more visitors skip the ticket line, your staff can give excellent and deliberate customer service to the visitors who didn’t purchase in advance. As an environmentally friendly alternative to print-at-home tickets, look for a solution that supports scanning tickets displayed on mobile devices.
The best museum ticketing solutions now offer ways to eliminate unusually long ticket lines associated with the season or a special attraction. If your ticketing solution supports ticket sales on mobile devices, you can deploy staff with iPhones and iPads to serve as ad hoc ticket booths to reduce the amount of time that customers spend in line.
Ideally, your museum’s ticketing software will deliver electronic tickets immediately by text message or email, allowing visitors to enter immediately without waiting for a printed ticket.
You can also use mobile ticket sales inside the museum to support easy upsell. For example, if a visitor declined to purchase an add-on ticket for a special exhibit, a staff member can sell the ticket on the fly to visitors outside the exhibit so they don’t have to go back to the front desk.
Member Recognition and Membership Sales
The ideal museum admission software is fully integrated with membership management tools, so you can scan membership cards when members arrive, greet them by name, allow them to enter the museum and record their attendance.
Members should also be able to receive automatic members-only discounts on eligible purchases, like add-on tickets for special exhibits or admission tickets for guests. Look for museum admission software that records every member’s interactions and purchases so you can create new programs and offers based on a deeper understanding of member behavior.
At the ticketing booth, the same software should allow staff to sell admission tickets and to upsell memberships. The membership may be hard to resist, especially for couples and families. Inside the museum, staff can use mobile devices to sell memberships that credit the visitor’s ticket costs to the price of their membership.
Packages, Discounts, and Promotions
Another important feature in museum ticketing software is built-in support for packages, discounts, and promotions, which encourage visitors to increase engagement and, of course, drive revenue. Any package containing two or more ticket types should automatically reduce the available capacity for each component, even if issuing a single ticket or barcode for the package.
In addition, an ideal museum ticketing solution will:
- Seamlessly handle different ticket pricing for seniors, military families, and other special groups
- Apply automatic member discounts to purchases. If your museum offers different discounts for different membership levels, your ticketing system should recognize each membership type and assign the correct pricing.
- Automatically discount packages of more than one kind of ticket (for example, a general admission ticket and an IMAX ticket purchased together costs less than purchasing them separately)
- Accept any valid coupon or coupon code (and set automatic end dates for coupons and promotions)
Full Integration of All Member and Visitor Data
The ideal museum admission software will support the needs of every department that interacts with visitors, members, and donors. These departments may include:
- Admissions and customer service staff
- Visitor programs
A fully integrated museum ticketing software solution should be able to help your team increase revenue through upsell, add-ons, and membership sales. No matter what type of transaction, whether it’s online through an integrated shopping cart or through POS and roaming sales, your team should have access to everything your museum offers to promote upsell of items.
Since ticketing software stores all transactions from every department into an integrated database, your team can easily find transactions, allowing your to communication more efficiently among departments and pull complete financial reports.
When all visitor, member, or donor activities are stored in a single constituent profile, you can use reporting and analytics tools to identify new opportunities to develop successful programs, build stronger bonds with constituents, and grow revenue.
Support for Impulse Donations
A proven way to increase donations is to ask for a gift during a purchase. The customer is already planning to get out their wallet, and it’s easy to add a few extra dollars (or more!) to their purchase to support a worthy cause. A good museum ticketing solution will enable you to display a donation request during every ticket purchase, whether the customer is online, at admissions, or in the gift shop!
Reporting and Analytics
As noted above, the benefits of a fully integrated museum ticketing solution is that all visitor and member information—including attendance, purchases, and donations—are stored in a single database. To unlock the value of your data, the ticketing software should support complete analytics and reporting with:
- Dozens of built-in standard reports for every department
- Support for customizing standard reports to meet each department’s unique needs
- A full-featured custom report writer to query and visualize data anywhere in the system
A flexible reporting and analytics solution will allow your museum to measure key metrics (such as average length of visit and earned revenue per visitor), use overall attendance data to identify opportunities to balance demand and ensure a better experience for all visitors, and evaluate the success of marketing and outreach activities on attendance and revenue\
Now that you understand what to look for in museum admissions software, let’s look at how you can take these tools and apply them to your museum’s day-to-day operations using the Buffalo Bayou Park as an example.
The Buffalo Bayou Park already worked with Doubleknot to manage their reservations but quickly realized they needed a way to handle ticketing and admissions.
One of the main attractions at the Park is the Cistern, a former drinking water reservoir from the 1920s and decommissioned in 2007. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership restored the Cistern and opened it to the public to showcase it’s unique architecture and history. The Cistern was open for several tours during three times on the weekdays as well as Saturday and Sunday.
Because of the limited capacity for reach tour (40 tickets per tour), the staff wanted a way to control the capacity of ticket sales so that tours could be purchased both online and in person at the Visitor Center. They also needed a way to validate tickets as visitors entered the Cistern, and the flexibility to update their availability calendar.
With Doubleknot’s museum ticketing system, the Buffalo Bayou park was able to implement solutions like:
- Online ticket sales with print-at-home and mobile tickets.
- In person ticket sales via the Sales Station app and Doubleknot’s secure credit card reader.
- Ticket validation at the Cistern entrance via Doubleknot’s check-in application.
Not only did out tools streamline the ticket-buying process but also make it easy for staff tour times had available spots. Our tools automatically update the number of open spots based on tickets sales on- and offline.
Museum admissions software is about more than just selling tickets; it’s about ensuring that visitors have an user-friendly experience and museums have an organized way of managing their programs and other offerings. As you begin your search for the best ticketing software, remember that your tool should have an easy-to-use interface, with the flexibility to accommodate special events, new programs, and exclusive ticketing packages.
For more information about museum software, check out our additional resources:
- Double the Donation’s Top 11 Museum Software. Looking for excellent museum and ticketing software? Check out this list of providers to find a tool that meets all your needs.
- Museum Fundraising Event Ideas to Benefit Your Museum. With the right museum ticketing system, you’ll have the freedom to plan any type of event you want. Get ideas for your next museum event with out top ideas.
- Membership Renewal Letters Guide. Renewing members is an important part of your museum strategy. Learn about several best practices to keep your members happy and remind them about renewal options.
Elissa Miller, M.Ed. is Doubleknot’s Communications Director. As the former development director for a regional nonprofit, she’s passionate about helping nonprofits and youth-serving organizations effectively harness new technologies to streamline operations and support their missions.