The East Central College Theater debuted a new online ticketing system this week.

A direct link to purchase tickets online was scheduled to go live at Wednesday, Sept. 19.

East Central has been behind many St. Louis venues as well as some local theaters when it comes to offering a digital purchasing platform. Theater manager Joshua Turk said adding an online buying tool is something the college has wanted to do for more than a year.

“The hope is that by offering another availability we can draw a larger audience and give them greater convenience,” said Turk.

The online ticketing outlet, called Vendini, serves various performance and sports venues and its clients include institutions such as the Napa Valley Opera House and the Georgetown Performing Arts Center, according to the company’s website.

The site features appealing elements like seat selection, print-at-home convenience, tight security protocols and nominal fees.

Turk said the service fees, at $2 per ticket, are well below the mark-up on tickets sold through other providers.

“It ain’t Ticketmaster, I’ll tell you that,” said Turk.

A significant factor in selecting Vendini involved the college’s desire to reserve access for patrons of the arts. Vendini, goes beyond supporting the patrons and gives nonmembers incentives to join.

Patrons will have access to every show in the performance schedule year-round. A special code allows patrons to purchase tickets for any performing arts event, any time. Members of the general public will be able to purchases ticket at 9 a.m. two months before a performance. Additionally, patrons are exempt from ticket services fees.

Shannon Grus, executive director of the ECC Foundation, spoke to the board of trustees in August about theater personnel learning and testing the new system. At the time she said they were pleased with Vendini’s ease and simplicity. Still, as consumers adjust, Grus expects a few things will need to be worked out and staff are prepared to help.

She sees the addition of online ticketing as a benefit for the public.

“It’s such a convenience for people who work all day,” she said.

Ticket sales have not gone exclusively online; sales over the phone and at the door on show night will continue.

Additionally, buyers aren’t obligated to print tickets at home, tickets can still be printed at the box office.

Turk noted that option accommodates smartphone and tablet users.

He said Vendini has a specific mobile site for such devices which is “definitely a bonus.”

While phone and tablet sales were not necessarily among the colleges primary needs it, will make eventual future enhancements to the theater’s ticketing system easier.

Ticketless entry could be an option down the road according to Turk.

“We’re not there yet,” he said.