In my 10+ year career in the entertainment industry, I have designed a great deal of vanity tickets, which are custom designed for an event. They are fun, high-profile projects that, for large events, thousands of people will be looking at. But when you're dealing with event tickets, there are very real security issues to consider, so understanding security when it comes to design is important. There are 3 main styles of vanity tickets: General Admission; Ticket Stub; and Barcode Style. Each style has distinct differences and varying degrees of security. The style of ticket that you choose is dependent on how the event is structured and the venue's capabilities.
General Admission - Low Security
This style of ticket is used at events where there is no assigned seating. This style is very easy to photocopy so if the event is secure, adding at a minimum a hologram makes duplication more difficult.
Ticket Stub Style - Medium Security
This style of ticket is used at events where there is assigned seating. The same hologram rules apply here but there is a second layer of security since these tickets have seat numbers. Seat numbers won't necessarily keep counterfeit tickets out, but if two people have duplicate seats, you have people wandering around or people sitting in the wrong seats the security team has an easier time investigating.
Barcode Style - Medium-High Security
This style of ticket is used in events where the venue is set up to read barcodes. The same hologram rules apply here but there is a second and third layer of security with the seat numbers and added barcode. It is more secure than the other two styles since each barcode is unique and specific to that venue. The system understands which barcodes are valid and which ones have already been scanned. So although someone could technically reproduce the barcode if they had access to your ticket, the design of the ticket should be unique enough to immediately alert ushers that it is a fake.
Counterfeiters are very good, so making the design unique, difficult to reproduce and easy to identify as the real thing is very important for all three styles. The higher the security the more unique the ticket should be. Think about how many security features a drivers license or dollar bill has. Using complicated die cuts, foils, holograms, heat sensitive and invisible inks, and interesting papers are all great ways to enhance the security of a ticket.
Understanding the ticket styles and security concerns is crucial to the design and event-planning process. You don't want security pandemonium because you didn't plan vanity tickets out appropriately. Knowing the challenges will set you off on the right track to avoid the issues that can turn a fun event into a security disaster.