Should Volunteers purchase Reimbursable Tickets?

Should Volunteers purchase Reimbursable Tickets?

The reason why Reimbursable Tickets are becoming the norm in event volunteer programs.

There are many reasons that folks volunteer for events – some people maintain that their reasons are on the altruistic side, while others are just sort of go-getters that enjoy playing a part of the whole. But behind it all is a desire to be a part of the event, without having to purchase a ticket. This is the underlying reason that all volunteers rely on, and even if they don’t think that’s their main reason, it is! Since purchasing a ticket would 100% dissuade them from participating 🙂

So knowing that a free ticket is the de facto reason that people volunteer, it seems against the grain to charge volunteers for a ticket, especially given these folks are dedicating their time and efforts to the event and receiving nothing else in return.

But what is a Reimbursable Ticket? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds – a Reimbursable Ticket is a ticket that is reimbursed following the completion of work shifts – it is the insurance that the worker will in fact show up and complete their part of the ticket-trade bargain!

Here are the reasons events use Reimbursable Tickets:

The event’s ticket revenue makes up the majority of its profit. Events don’t want to profit off of their volunteer team, but they do need to protect their most valuable revenue stream. And let’s face it, not all who sign up to volunteer intend to follow through with their shift commitment, and what’s stopping them from doing so? People are really good at justifying their choice to skip out on a shift, and that rationalization is what ends up costing the event in labor hours and ticket revenue. When workers skip out on shifts, they are double costing the event! The ticket value is based on people having to pay for it – if people stop paying, the value isn’t there anymore. This is a slippery slope of event revenue leakage.

Volunteers at Boots and Hearts festival in Canada showing off their new digs.

Late cancellations lead to understaffed departments. When workers cancel last minute, or simply don’t show up to the event, there is little to no time to find a replacement, leaving the event department short-staffed and the event’s ability to provide services to the event patrons stymied. When a worker has paid a ticket value, they are MUCH less likely to bail out last minute. They probably put a lot more thought into their decision to confirm as a volunteer.

The team’s integrity increases when Reimbursable Tickets. When everyone has their own money on the line, they are much more likely to take their position seriously. They know that there is a lot riding on whether they do a good job or not, and they know the true value of the ticket they are receiving in exchange for their work. This creates an environment of integrity where peers are leading examples to each other in excellent patron services and shift completion. The team only performs as good as it’s weakest link, and charging folks certainly weeds out some of the weaker applicants.

It’s pretty clear there are good reasons to use Reimbursable Tickets, so why would an event choose not to? Some events believe that charging Reimbursable Tickets would rub their team the wrong way, and perhaps prevent some of their previous workers from coming back. Although this may be true to some extent, it is common practice to ‘waive fees’ for workers that have proven themselves in the past as quality performers. This assists in alleviating the burden on proven workers, and allows these folks to feel appreciated in an even bigger way, and segmented out from new applicants, giving them a bit of clout they deserve.

I suggest all event organizers charge Reimbursable Tickets for their events, even if the tickets are at a much lower price than sold to attendees. It just makes the team work better, and the event run better!! Contact festiVOL if you’d like to find out how Reimbursable Tickets can work for your event.