Picture this scene, you’re in a big hotel for a conference. There’s a load of great speakers lined up and the place is full. You literally can’t move for people but you’re not surprised because it sold out months ago. How do you know this? Because it’s YOUR conference, one YOU organised and the one YOU’RE closing with your own keynote.
Like what you pictured? Then what are you waiting for? But hang on a minute, we need to work out how you’re actually going to sell tickets. That’s where this post comes in, today I’m talking WordPress plugins for events.
Pros and cons of using WordPress event plugins
As with all things there are pros and cons to using a plugin to manage your event bookings.
Everything kept in-house
Using WordPress plugins for events means that you’ll be able to keep everything in house. People will go through the whole process without having to leave your site (with the exception of maybe making payment via PayPal or another payment merchant). You won’t have to worry about them getting distracted on another website and not finish their booking.
You won’t be charged for bookings on your site (apart from a PayPal or whoever you choose to take payment through). So you’ll keep a large percentage from the ticket sales.
You’re responsible for the tech
If everything’s in house then you’ll need to make sure it all works. Making sure that everything’s hooked up properly to take payments, sending email confirmation and receipts etc.
Even things not directly related to taking bookings. So your host having an outage and preventing people getting on your site to book.
If you’ve got a decent host like Lyrical Host (use code TBG10 for 10% off your first payment) or Siteground then the chances of this happening are slim. But if you’re not with such a great host then it’s worth thinking about.
Alternatives to WordPress events plugins
If you’ve read that and thought, maybe a plugin isn’t for you, don’t worry because I have an alternative solution.
You could use an online ticketing platform like Eventbrite.
All online ticket platforms will charge fees for paid events but they do come with some advantages.
Using a well known platform that gets a lot of traffic will mean people could well stumble across your event listing and get more people attending.
You’ll also not have to worry about storing payment details and making sure that payments do actually go through.
Whatever you decide, make sure you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of all options and that you choose the best option for you.
The Events Calendar
The Events Calendar was really straightforward to install and set up. Creating new events is very similar to creating a new blog post or page using the WordPress classic editor.
There’s a URL field for you to add a link to wherever it is you want to take payment. When I tried it I linked to one of my products within my online course site, but you could just as easily add a link to PayPal or an item in a WooCommerce shop.
I downloaded the Event Tickets add-on to see if it would let me sell tickets directly from the event I set up on my site. When I did, the price option disappeared from my event and I was only able to RSVP for the event. So if I were to use this plugin, I’d hook it up to an external site to take payments.
Under your url/events you’ll find all your events listed in a calendar view for the month but you can switch to a day or list view if you want.
If you’re looking to hold regular events at the same venues you can create a venue listing to add to your events and for people to click through to, to get more information.
All in all one of the better WordPress plugins for events management.
When you install Events Manager for the first time it automatically uses your site’s current timezone which is great. Most of the other plugins I’ve used ask you to manually set it, which make me wonder why not just use the site’s timezone?
The settings are quite detailed, but still straightforward to set up. Things like user permissions around creating and publishing events and setting up Google Maps – if you want to add that level of detail to your events.
You can also choose which pages to use to show events and locations. You can even customise the email templates used to send when a booking is confirmed, pending, cancelled and more.
I got a bit confused when I first set up my event because I couldn’t see anywhere to add a price. Then I noticed that ‘enable registration for this event’ was unchecked, once I checked it pricing options appeared.
A really neat little feature is that you can add different levels of ticket. So you could have cheaper early bird tickets along with your standard ticket price too if you wanted.
I was really excited as I was playing with this plugin. It had me thinking that it could pretty much do everything, that was until it came to booking a ticket. There was no setting to hook up the plugin to PayPal or somewhere to take payment.
To be fair, you could set up the email template with a link to PayPal for people to use to then make payment. BUT you’re relying on people checking their email and then going to make payment.
Considering it’s a free plugin, you get a lot of bang for your buck. I was really impressed with how easy it was to use and just how much stuff it actually did. Definitely not of the better WordPress plugins for events that I’ve seen.
All-In-One Event Calendar
Setting up events using the All-In-One Event Calendar was really easy. It’s another plugin that uses a view very similar to the WordPress classic editor.
To sell tickets directly through this plugin you need to buy the ticketing add-on which is $59 a year. Or you can use an external system so you could hook it up to your online course platform or link it to PayPal.
You can choose different themes for your calendar but I couldn’t see much difference between the ones that came with it. Although you can override any calendar theme with your own brand colours if you want.
I noticed that you can create a widget to be embedded on another WordPress site rather than just linking to it. This could be handy if you have more than one site and want to advertise your events across them all.
WordPress plugins for events – verdict
Of the 3 WordPress events plugins I’ve talked about in this post, the winner by a mile was Events Manager. It was easy to use and you got a load of settings to make it work just how you wanted it.
Let down only by the fact that you couldn’t hook it up directly to a payment merchant. It would be my first choice if I needed an events plugin.
It doesn’t come with payment functionality built in, but you could easily get around this by putting links to pay in your email templates.
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