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Printed Event Tickets vs. Digital Tickets – Which Is Right for You?

June 12, 2023

In the world of event tickets, there are three primary options: printed tickets, digital tickets, and mobile tickets. Each has its own set of pros and cons, and the best choice often depends on the specific circumstances of the event and the preferences of the attendees.

Pros and cons of printed event tickets

Printed event tickets are the traditional form of event ticketing. They are physical tickets that you can hold in your hand, often purchased at a ticket center or mailed to your home.
Printed event ticket pros:
  • Can be sold outside of online channels.
  • Easily customizable to complement an event branding strategy and can provide opportunities to promote special promotions or premium experiences.
  • Holding a ticket printed on sturdy, smooth finish card stock is satisfying. After admission, ticket stubs can live on as mementos.
  • Additional revenue through advertising opportunities. Selling ad space on the backs of printed tickets can help cover their cost and generate profit.
  • Printed tickets offer accessibility to those without access to the internet or who aren’t tech-savvy.
  • Great security features include sequential numbering, barcodes, and QR codes for easy, secure check-in.
  • Technology is not always reliable. Dimmed phones, no WiFi, and other factors all contribute to a jammed-up entry gate. On the other hand, a printed event ticket will always be effective.
  • Using ticket templates and print-on-demand, you can have custom tickets ready to sell in short order.
Printed event ticket cons:
  • Ticket printing takes time and has an associated cost.
  • Printed tickets use paper and ink, contributing to waste and environmental harm.
  • A lack of mobile or digital ticketing may come across as dated and give the wrong impression.
  • Managing and tracking ticket sales can be challenging without an event management software platform.
  • Sometimes attendees lose their physical tickets before the event has begun.
  • Physical event tickets can get lost or damaged.
  • Guests who lose their stubs may experience issues reentering your event.
Printed tickets for an art gallery show.

Pros and cons of mobile + digital event tickets

Digital tickets are delivered via email and can be printed out or shown on a device at the event. Mobile tickets are similar to digital tickets, but they’re specifically designed to be displayed on a smartphone.
Mobile + digital ticket pros:
  • Paperless, thus good for the environment.
  • Contactless entry.
  • Digital tickets can be purchased and received instantly, eliminating the need for physical delivery.
  • Guests can add mobile tickets to their digital wallets for quick access, helpful for speedy check-in and reentry.
  • If you lose your digital ticket, you can simply print another copy or show the email at the event.
  • Mobile and digital tickets provide lots of valuable data. For example, in Eventgroove’s event organizer dashboard, you can monitor ticket-selling trends in real time.
Mobile + digital ticket cons:
  • Some attendees may prefer physical event tickets.
  • Excludes potential attendees without computers, mobile devices, or access to a printer.
  • Check-in for mobile ticketing requires a mobile device.
  • Technology does sometimes fail, and fast WiFi is a must!

Which ticketing option is best for my event?

The best route to take for most events is to deploy all ticket types. No matter the medium, an event platform can help you sell more event tickets by making them available for purchase online. Your event page allows customers to purchase printed tickets, leaving fulfillment as your only concern. Mobile and digital tickets are sent to purchasers, and all transactions are available on your organizer dashboard. Many of our event organizers, such as the Livingston Classic PBR, sell tickets through local businesses for guests who do not have internet access. Additionally, an event platform like Eventgroove enables you and your event staff to sell tickets at the door.

The right ticketing type is all about your event’s audience.

According to Pew Research, around half of adults ages 65 and older do not have home broadband. In addition, one-third of that group say they never use the internet. So, if that age group is part of your target audience, printing tickets and offering them at various outlets is a smart decision. On the flip side, millennial and Gen Z attendees are more comfortable and interested in an event that offers digital and mobile tickets.

The net-net

Although printed tickets have long been the standard, the landscape has changed with the advent of the internet and digital ticketing. Today, almost 71% of event tickets are sold online. To be successful, selling tickets through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram as well as through an event site is a must. However, it’s worth noting that 29% of tickets remain available for purchase outside of online channels. And, as any event organizer knows, maximizing ticket sales is a top priority. Providing a combination of digital, printed, and mobile ticketing options is the smartest choice for any event. From custom-printed tickets and printable digital tickets to mobile-only tickets, organizers and attendees can benefit from every available option. By allowing customers to choose, this strategy will enhance their overall event experience.

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