Event Ticketing with WordPress, Gravity Forms, and PayPal

Gravity FormsWordPress is a powerful CMS and blogging platform, but many site admins also have the need to sell tickets to events – especially nonprofits that often hold events like walk-a-thons, auctions, galas, etc. But full-blown e-commerce solutions can be very expensive, and very complicated to setup.

So what we’ve put together in the text and video tutorial below is a relatively low cost way to setup event ticketing on your WordPress powered website. We’ll create multiple ticket types for the event,  early bird discounted pricing, and a signature required waiver. When we’re done, we’ll link it off to PayPal to take payment, and then return the user back to the site.

This is an easy to assemble, and elegant solution to the WordPress ticketing problem.

As a short housekeeping note, a few of the products we mention link off using affiliate links. The company in question, Gravity Forms, pays OrgSpring a small fee if you buy their product using our affiliate link. There is no extra charge from you, the fee comes directly from the plugin seller. As a nonprofit, these affiliate links help us to continue creating great (and FREE!) video tutorials for nonprofits. You are under no obligation to use the affiliate links, you can navigate directly to the products and pay the exact same price. Thank you for your support.

 

What We’re Trying to Accomplish

We created this form for OrgSpring client, Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peacefully ending domestic violence. You can check out the finished version of the event and form on a post called the 2nd AK Hope Center Annual Howl-a-Ween Dog Walk and Costume Parade.

The challenge was to create a form that would allow the Hope Center to sell tickets to an event happening a few months down the road. They want to sell 2 different types of tickets depending on the number of people attending. They also wanted to offer early bird pricing at a discount for those who purchase tickets before a certain date. The reasoning behind this was because the Hope Center is giving away tshirts and bracelets to people and dogs attending the event, so the sooner they have a good headcount the easier the event is to manage – hence the early bird discount.

They want to link the payments to their PayPal account, and be able to track the event registrants and be able to update them on event news both before and after the event.

Finally, they needed to have event registrants fill out a waiver form releasing liability at the event.

 

Plugin Requirements

Looking at the requirements we know there are only a few ways to tacke the issues. We had three choices to make this work:

  1. Complete custom coding
  2. E-commerce Solution
  3. Payment enabled forms

Custom coding was immediately cut out because we were working on an extremely tight budget – $0. As developers, we have access to special licenses of most e-commerce solutions and most form solutions. We narrowed in on #2 or #3.

We knew the client wasn’t going to have dozens of events per year, and they didn’t want to manage members or have other items for sale in a store. That helped us eliminate #2, and make our decision to go with #3 – the payment form.

Choosing to Use Gravity Forms

We’ve written about Gravity Forms several times, and told you how much we like using it to create forms on our websites. It’s the only form plugin for WordPress that has the add-ons we needed to use to meet our requirements. It’s also very easy to use. For more on gravity forms, visit the gravity forms section of our website.

 

The Issues We Faced

Form creation is relatively simple, but in looking at the list of requirements, we knew there would be a few hurdles to overcome:

  • We need to create multiple versions of the same product – one for early bird registration and one for general registration – both based on the date the user fills out the form
  • We need to create a way for users to sign a waiver and link that to the form

Thankfully, Gravity forms handles these wonderfully with a few special add-ons, and we explain those in our Tools section below.

 

The Tools We’ll Be Using

Of course, we chose Gravity Forms (affiliate link). This is a premium plugin from Rocket Genius. There are three versions of the plugin depending on how many sites you need to install it on and how many add-ons you need to use. The prices range from $39 to $199 – the latter being for the developer option which gives you access to everything they offer. Gravity forms works its fees as a yearly licensing fee. Each year, you’ll get a discount – usually 50% to renew.

For someone who doesn’t already have the form license, this can be pricey. You’ll need the developer option to get use of the add-ons we need:

  • PayPal web standard add-on
  • Signature Add-on

We’ll also be using the Unix Time Stamp Converter (epochconverter.com) –  a free date based tool.

PayPal add on does as its name suggests – give you the ability to add pricing and product fields to gravity forms and pass your registrant off to PayPal to collect payment at the time of form submission. It then returns your user back to the website after payment has been confirmed. As a bonus, it can even pass your user to a special page if they decide to cancel their cart in paypal – a great way to get a second chance at convincing your potential registrant to purchase or donate.

The signature add on creates a signing box in the form that works with a mouse on the web, and also on touch screens like iphones, iPads, and tablets. This is great to get people to sign things in the field, like with surveys or petitions. It also works perfectly here for our waiver. The signature is captured as an image and attached to the form entry in the entries area of the form admin.

Since our early bird products will be based on the date the user completes the form, we need to use a unix based timestamp. Epoch converter website is a free tool that allows up to quickly create a unix based timestamp of any date and time combination.

If shelling out $200 is not an option for you, give us a buzz – we can create custom forms for your site at a much lower price point since we already hold the developer license.

 

What’s Covered in this tutorial:

  • How to install and use Gravity Forms for WordPress
  • How to configure and use the PayPal Gravity Forms Add-on
  • How to create a unix timestamp in Gravity Forms
  • How to create and configure conditional fields in Gravity Forms
  • How to create and configure product pricing
  • How to create a signable waiver form in Gravity Forms
  • How to test the form
  • How to view and edit form entries
  • How to setup admin and user notifications

 

The Video

The video tutorial below walks you through the form, how we set it up, what it looks like, and how it functions when complete.

From there, we show you the form fields we used to create the form exactly as you see it on the page.

We show you the settings required to make each field work exactly as described, and then we show you how to add the plugins necessary to make it work.

We walk through the PayPal plugin settings. We do not discuss setting your IPN settings. There are other tutorials on how to do that, and even the instructions in the plugin itself should be enough to guide you through. It’s a relatively quick and painless setup. Just a few clicks and you’re done.

We then show you how to create the PayPal link to the form, along with mapping the fields correctly.

We show you how to add conditional fields for the products we’ll be using as tickets, and how to edit the advanced settings to make sure the right product displays on the right date.

Finally, we show you how to view and edit the form entries and how to tell the difference between registrants who have paid and those whose payments might still be processing. We also show you how to follow up with and convert people who may have abandoned the PayPal cart before the transaction was paid for and completed.

Again, when you’re done, you’ll have a nice neat form that looks just like the one found here: 2nd AK Hope Center Annual Howl-a-Ween Dog Walk and Costume Parade.

 

If you have any problems following these steps, or any issues with your forms please leave a comment here on on the YouTube page. We’re happy to help!

If you liked the video and found it helpful, please consider sharing it using the share buttons below. Thanks!

 

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Craig Grella

Founder and Executive Director at OrgSpring
Craig is the founder and executive director or OrgSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits achieve their missions online. Through tips and tutorials, Craig's goal is show nonprofits how to use technology to become more efficient, grow their list of supporters, and increase online donations.