Data Month Part 2: Guest Data
Continuing with our Data Month theme, let’s take a look at collecting guest data. What information should you collect from your guests? (We’ll get into the “how” in the next installment.)
Before we go any further, we need to make sure we are on the same page with terminology. By Guests, we mean people who have tickets to your event. Not every Guest is a Ticket Buyer and not every Ticket Buyer is a Guest. For instance, a business can buy tickets, but it sends Guests (people) to actually attend your event. (And of course, a Ticket Buyer who buys a ticket for themselves is both a Ticket Buyer and a Guest.)
You can set your guest data fields to display only, be required, or not display at all. As a general rule, we love data. And we’re big fans of collecting it whenever we can. But we’ve learned the hard way that you have to know when to say when — and be careful about requiring fields. So, let’s go over the most common data collection decisions our customers have to make.
First, the required stuff. You have to ask for a first and last name for each guest. If you’re using our default credit-card processor (WePay), the software will automatically display the email and zip code fields. WePay uses this information as part of their approval process, and they won’t let you store a card at check-in without it.
If you are using Vanco for card-processing, they require complete billing addresses, so the street address, city, and state fields also automatically display on sites using those gateways.
If the Ticket Buyer doesn’t have this guest information on hand at the time of ticket purchase, they can leave all of the guest fields blank. (The software then labels this an unassigned ticket.) But if they enter a guest name, they’ll also need to fill in any other required guest data fields.
It’s always a good idea to collect email addresses, as they are used by the software for many purposes: for Advance Check-In and Self Check-Out, to send receipts, and to help guests log in for Mobile Bidding. But again, don’t require emails unless you have to. Otherwise you’ll end up with potentially fake email addresses on your site. And some credit card gateways retroactively decline charges associated with obviously fake emails.
You can also collect street addresses and phone numbers for your guests. Plus and Premium subscribers have some options for bulk-texting, so they may wish to collect mobile numbers. But unless you are using a card-processor that requires them, we recommend you set these fields to Display, NOT Required.
In addition, you may want to collect some guest data that goes beyond contact information, such as meal choice or seating preference. Or something else entirely. You can do this using Custom Fields, which you set up as you see fit. We’ll discuss those — and more! — in our next post.