How-To: Arts & Crafts Festival Ticket Sales
The popularity of websites like Etsy and Pinterest have led to a meteoric rise in attendance at arts and crafts festivals. If you are tasked with managing arts and crafts festival sales, there's a lot to learn, especially what to look for in festival ticketing software.
Learning From Other Events
Wildly popular online craft websites Etsy and Pinterest have caused the once humble arts and crafts festival to become a major event. The growing pains being experienced can be overcome by looking to, and learning from, other types of festivals, particularly the use of online festival ticketing software. If you are responsible for managing an arts and crafts fair, big or small, here's what to do....
Before the "Etsy effect" took hold, many arts and crafts festivals were run with a very informal, "just-show-up" approach. While that may have worked in the past, the new interest in hand-made goods means that an arts and crafts festival will need to become a little more formal - both for exhibitors and attendees.
Exhibitor booths have a tendency to sprawl beyond the confines of the event space when left unchecked. In addition to violating any agreements with the location owner this lack of organization may lead to unnecessary confusion for attendees ("I can find that necklace I saw on Etsy"). Rather than let exhibitors haphazardly set-up wherever they choose, it is highly recommended that an exhibitor registration process is put into place, preferably online. Asking that exhibitors register online and choose a display booth location is a best practice from the trade-show industry, but it need not be as formal.
The best festival ticketing software will allow for a two-tier purchase process - one for exhibitors and one for attendees. The festival organizer can choose what price to charge exhibitors by display booth location and/or size. And even if craft makers are not paying to exhibit, the same online registration process can be used to have an orderly set-up on the day of the event.
Also, it is a common practice at music festivals for vendors and exhibitors to register online well ahead of when tickets go on sale for attendees. Once a locale has been secured, typically a few weeks before the scheduled event date, set aside a period of time when exhibitors register online, but before tickets go on sale to the public. This is what's called a "pre-sale" in the event industry and it too is a best practice that should be borrowed. If the arts and crafts fair is free to attend, but exhibitors must pay a small booth fee, you'll still need to start this process as early as possible.
Another important consideration is whether the arts and crafts festival is indoors or outside.
An indoor event is all the more reason to ask exhibitors to register online and reserve their display booth location and size. The inside of a venue has a physical capacity limit which needs to be used in an economical way. Indoor events have finite entrances, and again learning from trade-shows, those entry points are premium high traffic areas. If it is part of your arts and crafts event to sell display booths on a for-profit basis, make sure the areas near the entrances are priced accordingly higher.
If your arts and crafts festival is outdoors, like in a park or other public space, entrances are much less of a factor, but well organized exhibitor displays are just as important. There may be boundaries established by the city or property owner that limit where crafts can be displayed and sold. These limits may be because of city ordinances for the sale of goods (zoning laws) or a condition of insurance liability/security. A lot of time can be saved, and big hassles avoided, by asking exhibitors to register online and claim their display area even though the festival is outside with no apparent gates or formal entrances.
With an exhibitor display booth plan established, the next step is to plan for exhibitors' needs while at your event.
Recently, the official Etsy blog published an excellent "What To Bring" checklist for the craft makers selling items at festivals. The checklist is highly recommended reading for anyone tasked with organizing and managing an arts and crafts festival and some highlights include:
- Change – Don’t miss a sale because someone doesn’t have correct change.
- Business Cards – Moo.com is an excellent resource for affordable business cards.
- Business License or Permit – Check to see what is required in your state.
- Receipt or Sales Book – It’s rare, but some customers insist on having a receipt.
Note that many of the Etsy exhibitor checklist items can be incorporated into the online registration process, either as polite reminders or as sales options offered with a booth space purchase.
Once all the needs of the exhibitors have been addressed, the floodgates for the public can be opened. If the arts and crafts festival is free to attend, consider still making it a ticketed event for the purposes of gathering contact information. Selling tickets online and at an on-site ticket booth will generate important information that can be be used for the next event. For example, if you expected 1,000 people but 5,000 actually showed up, your choice in locales can be better informed next time using the post-event ticket sales data.
ThunderTix Festival Ticketing Software
Etsy and Pinterest have changed the nature of arts and crafts festivals forever, including how the events are planned and operating costs recovered.
The ThunderTix plan for growing arts and crafts festivals helps you organize exhibitor booth spaces and sell tickets online at a price you can afford. Not all event ticketing software is the same and we have years of experience being the ticketing software technology of choice for successful festivals of all sizes. We would love to help you graduate your arts and crafts festivals to be capable of handling the new higher attendance levels that Etsy and Pinterest have generated.