9 things to look for in an rock-solid event payment system
Often when event professionals begin to look for event business management software, they don’t think of payment processing first. People in event management tend to prioritize tools for building event agendas and schedules, managing tasks, collecting registrations, tracking attendees and building budgets. People in venue management are all about managing event bookings and clients and tracking leads and prospects.
However, event payment processing can potentially make a bigger difference to your business’s bottom line than any of those other tools because:
- Integrating online credit card payments with your invoicing and event registration tools can increase cash flow because you get paid sooner.
- Offering customers multiple ways to pay (credit card, check, ACH, etc.) can lead to more purchases (and more timely payments).
- Lower credit card processing fees can put money back in your pocket (whereas high fees can eat into profits).
With that said, here are nine things you should consider when shopping for an event payment system.
1. Reliable payment processors
Many online event planner and event venue management software providers (like Planning Pod as well as Eventbrite, Cvent, Xing Events, RSVPbook, Ticketbud and RegPack) integrate with one or more credit card payment processors that are responsible for running and managing credit card transactions. There are hundreds of such processors out there, but a few of the most popular and reputable include WePay, PaySimple, PayPal, Stripe, BrainTree and Authorize.net.
You would be well served to compare the processors you are considering by rating them on the following factors:
- Credit cards accepted - Can include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
- Time period before funds are remitted - This is how quickly the processors deposit funds in your bank account after the transactions are approved ... good rule of thumb here is 5 days or less.
- Processing fees - These can vary from 5.5% to less than 2.5% per transaction (average tends to hover around 3%), but make sure you read the fine print before signing up.
The cornerstone of any good venue or event business management system is a solid invoice generator. This tool should allow you to quickly and easily build invoices as well as send invoices to clients and collect payments on them. Many venues and some event planners bill in installments, so an event invoicing platform should also offer the ability to set up and process installment payments. Another big timesaver is the ability to create event invoice templates that are standard to your type of business (like event planner invoice templates, venue invoice templates, etc.).
3. Registration and Ticketing
Most people are accustomed to paying for tickets for all kinds of events online and by credit card (including concerts, fairs, festivals, conferences, fundraisers, etc.), so integrating payment processing into your event registration and online ticket sales systems is vital to maximizing attendance and revenues. Additional features that can improve your online event payment and registration processes are event payment websites, online registration forms, social media integrations, and attendee management tools.
4. Check Payments
Not everybody pays by credit card, as there are still some people who prefer paying by check or cash. In these cases, it behooves you to look for a event payment software solution that offers a pay-by-check option and the ability to track these payments.
5. Email Notifications
Having an event payment system that utilizes email to notify customers and attendees is very important and for two reasons. 1) You need to be able to quickly and efficiently send invoices to clients or invitations/reminders to potential attendees. 2) You need to be able to notify clients and attendees in a timely fashion that their payment has been received or their transaction has been processed.
In addition, it's a big bonus if your payment system lets you integrate with your existing email addresses or platforms (like Outlook or Gmail) so you can send out invoices and reminders via your business email addresses.
6. Reporting and Dashboards
Knowing the current status of payments and revenues is vital to any venue or event planning business, which is why customizable event reports and informative event dashboards are a huge asset. They let you know the status of things like open invoices, ticket sales and recent payments in a snap, allowing you to make informed decisions about your business.
7. Mobile friendly and cloud based
The advantages of using Web-based software are pretty well-documented by now (like no need to maintain software on your devices, no downloads or installation, no fees for updates/upgrades, no data loss if your computer or device fails, etc.), but you should also consider an event payment system that is mobile-friendly so you can use it on any device - smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops - anytime, anywhere.
NOTE: If you run an event venue or an event planning business, you are probably on-the-go and not at your desk very often, so mobile-friendly event invoicing software or an event payment app is a must.
8. Branding and customization
Being able to add your organization’s logo and branding to your event invoices (and event invoice templates), online credit card payment forms and other financial documents can help increase your brand awareness and add a professional touch to your transactions.
Most event accounting software applications (including Quickbooks, Xero and Freshbooks) offer many features with regard to bookkeeping and expense tracking, but they often don’t provide the custom features that venues, event planners and businesses require for building detailed event invoices and collecting payments. So the event payment system you choose should be able to integrate with those other platforms so you don’t have your financial data spread across multiple programs.
Also, if you track your customer or attendee contact information, you should seek out an event payment software solution that contains an event CRM management tool or integrates with another CRM software.