Selling Online Farm Haunt Tickets for the First Time
Terror on the Farm is an annual haunt organized by Ashland Berry Farm. Since its first official year in 2000, Terror on the Farm only sold tickets on site, accepting cash and card via their farm’s point of sale system. 2022 was Terror on the Farm’s first year selling tickets online. This case study explores how Ashland Berry Farm transitioned from cash sales to online ticket sales.
- Years in Business: 26+
- Tickets Sold: 20,000+
- Free Emails Sent: 63,002
- Ticket Price: $20-$40
Established in 1978, Ashland Berry Farm is located in Beaverdam, Virginia. In the 1990s, Ashland Berry Farm hosted bonfires and hayrides for local church groups. Over time they added more scares to the hayride and realized there was potential to make money and diversify their revenue streams with a haunt. Terror on the Farm officially began in early 2000 and has since become one of Virginia’s premier haunted attractions.
When attendees enter Terror on the Farm, they first go through the box office. Beyond the box office there is a concessions stand and 4 attractions. The hayride is the main attraction, and the other 3 are through warehouse type buildings. Because there are 4 attractions that they need to get customers through, Terror on the Farm needs to monitor the number of tickets sold to ensure that there is a good balance between revenue and customer experience.
Managing Ticket Inventory
One of the biggest barriers to selling tickets online for Terror on the Farm was figuring out the balance of how many tickets would be sold online versus on site to maintain their customer throughput and experience. They quickly determined that approximately half of all tickets sales happened online. Furthermore, people who bought tickets online tended to show up early and people who bought tickets on site arrived later at night. Once Terror on the Farm figured out the ratio and patterns of online vs on site ticket purchasers, they were able to easily manage inventory across online and on site during busy nights later in October.
Timed entry and ticket caps ensured that Terror on Farm had real-time control over online ticket sales. By offering time slots, Terror on the Farm had more control over inventory. They could sell more tickets online earlier in the night and handle later night sales on site. When people bought tickets for a time slot, they tended to arrive on time which improved the overall flow of customers through the attractions. TicketSignup also makes it easy to update caps in real time, enabling Terror on the Farm to increase or decrease the number of available tickets during the event based on how the event is going.
Making More Money with Online Ticketing
TicketSignup Partner Revenue Share Program For events that sell over 5,000 tickets or $200,000 of transaction volume, we share 20% of that processing fee back via our Partner Program – that means the event organizer gets paid 20 cents per transaction + 1.2% of the transaction total. Terror on the Farm made over $9,000 just from TicketSignup's Revenue Share Program.
The economic benefits of selling online tickets were much more clear. Ashland Berry Farm uses Shopkeeper to accept credit cards at the farm. With no way to pass the processing fees to the customer, the farm eats the cost of the processing fees. That means for a $40 ticket sold on site and paid via credit card, the farm only makes about $38.50 and has to pay an additional $250 per month subscription fee. With TicketSignup, the farm gets the entire $40 because they pass on the processing fee to purchasers. In addition, Terror on the Farm’s volume of tickets mean that they qualify for TicketSignup’s partner revenue share program – for a $40 cart they earn an additional $.68 on top of the $40.
Another way that Terror on the Farm made more money this year was through online tickets sold to individuals who never ended up attending the haunt. 97% of all online tickets sold where checked in with TicketSignup’s free mobile CheckIn App. That means 3% of all online tickets sold were bought and not used. With an average ticket price of $32, that’s approximately $8k in revenue that Terror on the Farm made from people who bought tickets and didn’t show up – money that they would have missed out on without online ticket sales.
Terror on the Farm knows that Saturday’s in October are very popular sell-out events and they can price tickets at a premium. The difference maker is selling more tickets for nights early in the season and on off nights. This year Terror on the Farm branded a Sunday night that typically has very low attendance as “Boo for Two” where people could get two tickets for the price of one. Terror on the Farm ended up completely selling out the 7 and 8 pm time slots on a historically slow Sunday night.
Saving Money and Growing Terror on the Farm with Free Marketing Tools
Ashland Berry Farm previously used Mailchimp to send emails. In September and October they used TicketSignup to send 4 marketing emails to a list with about 13,500 contacts in September and October. Previously they had used Mailchimp credits to send these 4 promotional emails, which cost between $1,050 and $1,575. With TicketSignup they sent these emails for free with impressive open and click through rates. Since TicketSignup enables their farm to send unlimited emails to unlimited contacts for free, Ashland Berry Farm can use TicketSignup for all email marketing – including marketing for the farm beyond events!
Ashland Berry Farm used TicketSignup for Terror on the Farm’s website as well as for their pumpkin picking. Some of the key website features that they leveraged included:
- Custom subdomains to maintain Ashland Berry Farm’s branding – TicketSignup supports custom domains and subdomains for free!
- Menus and pages to include more information about the event like schedule, FAQs, and ticket management options.
- Custom images, banner slideshows, video, and more
- Branding for each event. Terror on the Farm is a lot spookier than daytime pumpkin picking!
TicketSignup’s websites are free and easy to manage. The farm is able to go in and update information on their event websites without going through a webmaster, ensuring that content is always up to date. Rather than just having a page on their farm’s website, they are able to leverage TicketSignup’s SEO so that people can find their events online.
Event Day Operations and Rained Out Nights
Terror on the Farm used TicketSignup’s CheckIn App. The farm doesn’t have good internet but since the app needs very little internet, it worked perfectly. There were three lines at the ticket booth – one to pay with cash, one to buy tickets with a credit card, and one to check-in pre-purchased online tickets. The CheckIn line moved significantly faster, showing other attendees the advantage of buying tickets online and not wasting time waiting in line to pay on site.
Like many East Coast haunts this year, Terror on the Farm had to cancel one of their nights due to Hurricane Ian. One of their hesitations with selling online tickets was how to handle weather-related cancellations for online tickets.
TicketSignup’s self-serve ticket transfers proved very effective. Terror on the Farm sent out an email to all ticket holders with a Manage Tickets button that enabled them to transfer their tickets to a different date for a week – no logins or passwords required! This allowed Terror on the Farm to keep revenue that would have otherwise been forfeited to weather without any customer service burden.
Terror on the Farm was happy to have made the transition to selling online tickets with TicketSignup because they were able to make more money, save money on marketing costs, and manage customers and Event Day operations efficiently.