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On-Premise vs. Cloud Hosting Your Ticketing Solution: The Benefits and Drawbacks

More and more we’re encountering attractions asking for a cloud-hosted ticketing and guest experience solution (vs. one installed on-premise). But when we dig a little deeper, we’re also more and more finding that the on-premise installed solution vs the cloud-hosted solution debate isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. So we’ve set out to demystify some of the benefits and drawbacks of both options and make a case for why our on-premise Galaxy ticketing and guest experience solution may be best for your attraction.

Who Owns Your Data?

With Gateway Ticketing System’s Galaxy on-premise hosted ticketing and guest experience solution, your guest data is entirely your own. You own the SQL data and you can run whatever report whenever you want.

With most cloud-hosted solutions, the limited reports are developed for you and they often contain only a partial view of your guest data. This can be appealing and useful for attractions that have limited resources who can only allocate enough time to learning and using the basic out-of-the-box functionality – functionality that is designed to meet most of your needs most of the time. Canned reports often display the data points core to your business in a very easy to understand format.

However, guest data is at the heart of everything you do. It’s how you validate admission. It’s how you run better marketing promotions. It’s how you deliver a personalized guest experience. It’s how you grow. And if you’re committed to growing your attractions, one of the first steps is to get full ownership of your data so you can cut it and analyze it in the way that best helps drive decision making.


Is Your Personal Guest Data Secure?

The answer is: Yes. With a cloud-hosted solution or our on-premise installation, your personal guest data is very secure.

With a cloud-hosted solution, the security of your personal guest data falls largely on your provider and the cloud-service they use to store the data. This is helpful for many attractions because they don’t need someone on staff who has a certain level of security expertise. You can set it and forget, to an extent.

But cloud-hosted solutions are more susceptible to larger data breaches because they’re always connected to the internet. The recent colonial pipeline security breach is a great example. All of the pipeline’s operational technology is connected through a central system and the internet, and this is the point where hackers gained access. With our on-premise installation, we always recommend the machine that hosts your SQL server and personal guest information not have any internet access, making it almost impossible to steal the data without someone being onsite at that machine.


Have You Weighed the Costs?

Cloud-hosted and on-premise solutions typically have different pricing models, and there are pros and cons to each.

Upfront, you will almost always pay less with a cloud-hosted solution. But in the long run, your total investment is often less with our on-premise solution.

Many cloud-hosted solutions charge a per-ticket or profit-sharing fee. This is great because you migrate your expenses from an upfront sum to a pay when you sell model. However, when you sell more, you also pay more, cutting into your overall profits at an unpredictable rate. Here’s simplified sample pricing: Let’s say your attraction sells 250,000 tickets annually. Your cloud-hosted ticketing solution provider may charge you a small up front implementation fee, and then something like $.45 per ticket. Your total five-year expenses could look this this:

With our on-premise ticketing solution, we have several payment options and will help guide you to the model that best fits your attraction. In most cases, you purchase an outright license upfront. You also pay for the services to install it, and to train your team – again, all upfront. So it’s a fixed cost. Then, you pay an annual fee which includes maintenance for your software and hardware, and service hours which could be used for support, training or enhancements. A fixed cost as well. Many attractions prefer a different pricing model because the up-front Year One costs of our on-premise solution are much higher than cloud-hosted solutions.

But, as you sell more and more tickets in any given year, your expense for the system stays the same. Your theoretical “per-ticket cost” goes down, and your profit goes up (It also makes budgeting and financial planning a lot easier). Here’s another example: Let’s say you work for that same attraction welcoming 250,000 visitors every year. With our on-premise installation, purchasing everything upfront and paying an annual maintenance, your total five-year expenses could look this this:

Notice how much lower the five year total expense is. If you want to look at it from a per-ticket perspective, you would pay $.18 per ticket over five years.

Finally, other cloud-hosted solutions may charge annually a fixed fee per feature, per POS. This is sort of like a hybrid of the per-ticket and license model. Want more features, or to start-up additional POS, then you pay more. This works because you’re once again paying a fixed fee that doesn’t grow when you sell more. However, instead of outright purchasing the license, you are paying an indefinite “rental” fee for the life of your agreement. As you’ll see in the below example, by year six and beyond your total investment surpasses that of the on-premise licensing model.


What is Your Transaction Speed & Offline Capabilities?

Cloud-hosting brings many benefits and oftentimes simplifies the logistics of your operations. However, having a system that is overly simple to manage comes with drawbacks. For example, our on-premise installation will almost always process your operations quicker than a cloud-hosted solution because your processors are right there – that means faster transaction times when selling tickets to a long line at your counter, and faster scanning times when you’re trying to move the crowd through your gates. This is particularly noteworthy if your venue is physically located far from the data center that hosts your system, or if there are connectivity issues due to weather, etc.

Additionally, when most venues envision being online in the cloud, they sometimes forget to envision what it’s like being offline in the cloud. Things happen, and the internet goes out. With a cloud solution, you now have very limited functionality. But with an on-premise installation, the majority of your essential ticketing functions still work.

Any Other Useful Advantages?

Finally, we want to point out a couple more useful advantages to our Galaxy Ticketing and Guest Experience solution. These may not relate directly to the functionality of cloud vs. on-premise. But we find that most cloud-hosted solutions don’t have the full breadth of functionality that our on-premise installation can offer your attraction.

Just a few examples:

Donor Management: our Galaxy solution has it’s own donor management module. So all donor data is easily collected right in the system. But we also integrate directly with Raiser’s Edge. We know that’s an important tool for many non-profits – so you can still have it and use Galaxy.

CRM: Our solution has its own CRM tool which leverages all the transactional and demographic data you collect from your guests to help you personalize every single guest experience.

Unlike many of the cloud-hosted solutions out there, our on-premise ticketing and guest experience solution integrates almost all of your revenue-generating operations into one solution: ticketing on-site, online and at kiosks, admission control, resource management, group sales, online ticketing sales, retail, food and beverage, membership/pass/donor management, plus reporting and CRM.

Additionally, our solution is the best in the market for multi-site attractions because it allows you to do multi-site scanning and multi-site accounting. If you handle each site as a separate organization, you can sell separate tickets and memberships/passes per site and separate the reconciliation of that revenue.

If you want to investigate how your software can grow from an expense to the core of your revenue generation, including the benefits of full data ownership, increased security, potential cost-savings, and faster transaction speed and offline capabilities, you can connect with a knowledgeable representative at Gateway Ticketing Systems by clicking the button below or emailing us at