Fans traveling to sporting or school events at Liberty, Kettle Run, and Fauquier High Schools will no longer need to go through a bank or use an ATM first.
Beginning with the upcoming 2022-23 school year, schools are moving from a cash-based admissions system to an all-digital process.
County schools have partnered with GoFan, a company located in Alpharetta, Georgia, to handle all ticket sales. The GoFan website bills itself as the nation’s largest company dealing with digital tickets for high school events, dealing with over 10,000 schools.
The new system allows fans to buy tickets days before an event instead of queuing at a box office.
Customers must use a desktop computer or smartphone to use the company’s website to purchase tickets for a specific event. There is also an iPhone-only app. Using a mobile device, the ticket is then presented to gate staff upon entering a venue.
Multiple tickets can be purchased and stored on one phone. Tickets can also be forwarded by email to anyone. Under the new system, a “convenience fee” of $1 is added to the ticket price.
Students will also use GoFan for their tickets. Nothing will change with regard to access by press or any other pass accepted.
If an event is canceled, the school notifies GoFan, which automatically begins a refund process that can take up to five days. If an event is postponed, the ticket is automatically transferred to the new date.
Short tutorials are available on YouTube to show the process.
“The key thing is the overall simplicity of it,” said Mark Ott, chief operating officer of Fauquier.
“Yeah, I still have to pay a person ticket to look at the phones and press a button. It’s easier than sitting around and counting change when a person comes in, buys six dollar bills and hands you a hundred dollar bill.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, cash was required to purchase a ticket because county schools and most other school systems did not accept credit or debit cards or any other form of payment. This way of thinking has changed with the widespread closings of the pandemic. Emphasis was placed on social distancing, avoiding queues and limiting the handling of paper money that could be contaminated.
When the Virginia High School League allowed athletics to resume in December 2020, all surrounding counties began requiring the use of online software or smartphone apps to purchase tickets.
No cash sales of VHSL State Tournament Contest tickets were available until the end of the 2021 Spring season. These entities have all decided to remain cash-free for the 2021- 22 just ended
Paul Frye, director of student activities at Kettle Run, said local DAs wanted to follow the VHSL trend, but the time was not right.
“Sharing banking information was the hold-up. [The change] just had to go through a few steps,” said Frye, who presented the proposal to central office. “But there was no roadblock.”
“We got into it late, and by the time we were ready to start it was already halfway through the season,” he explained. “We will be ready to start from scratch this year.”
Ott said many local fans are already familiar with the process if they’ve been to Winchester-area schools or any contests in Loudoun or Prince William counties in the past two years.
The new process also alleviates security concerns when processing receipts from a busy game, Ott said, using a football game between two county schools as an example.
“If you have a good gate, you can bring in $10,000 to $12,000 or more for a football game,” Ott said. “Then you have to worry about what you’re going to do with the money after the game: take it to the bank for overnight deposit or use a safe, depending on how much you have.
“Then you have to count it, present it to the financiers, and then they recount it. There’s a lot of money manipulation that doesn’t need to be.
“Our biggest doors are obviously Friday nights,” Frye agreed. “[The money] is in school all weekend before finance can get their hands on it. It’s just a lot easier that way.
The schools’ results will not be diminished because they will receive the full price of admission, Ott said.
“The cost is imposed on spectators in the form of a convenience fee of $1 for each ticket purchased,” he explained, so a family of four will now pay $28 instead of $24 for a match.
“We spoke to the [athletic directors] from other counties, and no one complained about the convenience fee.
GoFan will also benefit each school’s finance office.
“The accounting is phenomenal,” Ott continued. “[The school] receives a weekly or monthly report.
“Let’s say you have a field hockey game, two volleyball games, a junior college football game, and a college football game at home in the same week. When you receive your report, you receive a check or direct deposit, but it is already itemized so that the money can be credited to the correct sport.
If a person doesn’t have a smartphone, they can pay with a company-provided credit/debit card reader in conjunction with an iPad, which records the ticket transaction.
“The current consensus is that we won’t have any cash sales at the door,” Ott said.
The literature also indicates that some customers allow fans to print a hard copy of the ticket purchase, but Ott and Frye claim that this option will not be available to prevent fraud. A person could buy a ticket and print 10 copies, which would be difficult to enter at the entrance.
Not just for sports
GoFan will be used for many other activities in schools, Ott said happily, pointing to tickets to concerts, plays, dances and other non-sporting events. The software will also enable data collection and limit paper files, Ott said, using prom tickets as an example.
“We need to collect information from the buyer for the prom to know who it is. There will be a drop down menu where the name, grade, student ID number and address email can be listed. All is well,” Ott explained, adding that similar fields will allow online registration for sports and non-sports camps held at schools.