Working with hundreds of event organizers and thousands of events every years means that we get to have a lot of meaningful conversations.
And after having hundreds of meaningful conversations with first-time event organizers and veterans, I realized that determining the price of tickets can often be a challenge.
Believe it or not, but the price that you decide to charge your attendees can either make or break your event.
Let that sink in for a little bit.
Pricing your tickets extremely low will directly eat away at your profits, and make it extremely difficult to cover your initial expenses and break even. Not to mention that a low ticket price can de-value your event in the eyes of your targeted audience.
But what about high priced tickets?
Sure, there’s the opportunity to earn a healthy profit, but there are challenges as well. A ticket price that is extremely expensive tends to alienate people and shy them away from even thinking about making the purchase. Educating them and communicating the value that they’re getting at your event then becomes a massive hurdle. Lastly, you’ll want to consider competing events, how much they charge for their tickets and what the value that attendees perceive.
A little bit challenging right?
Luckily for you, below we’ll be sharing some of the most effective event ticketing strategies to help you start selling more tickets for your next event.
Planning Your Price
Before determining your final ticket prices, there are a few things that you’ll need to figure out including the costs of of your expenses, what your competitors are charging, and the market viability of hosting an event like yours so that you can make an accurate forecast.
Competitor and Similar Events
Before jumping right into it, you’ll want to do your due diligence and research other events to understand the competitive space so that you have a good indication of the price ranges that currently exist, what people will typically pay and even how what attendance typically is for these events.
Not sure where to start? Start by researching events in the market that are similar to the event that you’re planning on hosting.
Regardless of location, similar events will give you a good indication of the size, attendance and pricing models out there. And similar events that are located near you will give you a better understanding of the market viability and the perceived value of your event.
Like selling a product or a service, you’ll want to be able to clearly communicate why attending your event over your competitors is the right decision.
Tallying Your Expenses and Your Break-Even
This is arguably one of the most important and overlooked factors when it comes to determining the right price for your tickets.
Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Before you even start to think about pricing, you’ll want to know your numbers confidently. Once you have a running tally of your total expenses, you can then make an educated assumption on how much your tickets should cost. And once you have an estimated price, it’s time to take a look at what your break-even point will be.
Calculating your break-even (two equations):
Break even point in number of tickets sold = Fixed costs / (Sales per unit – Variable cost per unit).
Break even point in dollars = sales price per unit x break even point in units (tickets sold)
So let’s take the following example: You’re hosting an upcoming music event and your total fixed costs are $20,000 (the bands, the fencing, licensing, equipment, etc) and there is also a variable cost of $2 per unit (ticket sold). You’re planning on selling tickets for $20 each, how many tickets do you need to sell to break even?
Break even point in number of tickets sold = $20,000 / ($20-$2) = 1,111 tickets
Break even point in dollars = $20 x 1,111 = $22,220
Based off these numbers, you would need to sell 1,111 tickets at $20 per ticket to reach your break event point. Alternatively, you will need to sell a total of $22, 220 in total volume to break even. Every ticket you sell after reaching that number will go towards your profit.
Personal tip: The easiest way to keep track of all of your expenses, whether they are fixed or variable would be to write them all down and categorize them in a spreadsheet. If you want to get “fancy” you can group expenses based on the cell colour.
Forecasting Your Ticket Sales
In my opinion, here’s where things can and do get interesting – forecasting ticket sales.
Based on your previous events (if there are any), your competitor’s events, location, etc., you should be able to come up with a realistic sales forecast.
Some other factors to consider would be: How many people can the venue hold? What will the weather be like, is it rain or shine? Is there any brand awareness? Is this a mainstream event that people will actually want to attend?
After coming up with a realistic number, you can then divide this number by the break even point that we found earlier. This final number should be the minimum price you charge for your tickets in order to ensure that you will be able to pay for all of your expenses.
The point of doing it this way is to be conservative with your attendance estimates to maximize your profitability and the likelihood of breaking even.
General rule: For ticket sales and attendance numbers, the rule of thumb is around 40% of total capacity
Once you’ve determined how much your tickets will be selling for, it’s time to come up with an effective strategy to sell the tickets. Below are some of the best and most efficient event ticket pricing strategies that you should be considering.
Early Bird Pricing
One of the most common and effective pricing models for selling tickets is offering early bird sales. It’s a great way to start generating some early buy-in and awareness for the event, secures your first group of attendees and it sparks some urgency for others to get their tickets.
Generally speaking, early bird sales work in two different ways: You can offer the early bird price for a limited amount of time with an unlimited quantity amount, or you can offer the early bird rate to the first 100, 500, or even 1,000 people depending on the size of your event.
Not sure which one to do? You can also combine both methods, so that the early bird price is only offered for a limited time and also only has a certain amount available. Once the time runs out or the tickets sell out, that’s it!
Personal tip: Avoid continually extending your early bird rate. It teaches your audience to keep waiting, rather than creating a sense of urgency and demand.
Multi-Tiered Pricing Strategy
Similar to the above, is a very popular strategy that is built on tiered pricing. Rather than offered an early bird rate and then a general admission rate, this strategy has multiple tiers involved.
The strategy and purpose here is to continually provide an incentive and sense of demand for your event by rewarding early buyers with lower ticket prices.
The following is an example:
Tier 1 Admission: $25 tickets available to the first 500 people
Tier 2 Admission: $35 tickets available to the next 500 people
Tier 3 Admission: $45 tickets available to the last 500 people
Timed Batch Ticket Pricing
Similarly to the above tiered pricing model, you can create a multi-tier strategy based on specific dates. Just like the above, you can also create as many tiers as needed, adding price increases as it gets closer to the event date.
The important thing to keep in mind here is to make the price increase significant enough to generate the demand and create urgency for people to purchase before it’s too late.
Tier 1 Admission: $25 tickets available until July 1st
Tier 2 Admission: $35 tickets available until August 1st
Tier 3 Admission: $45 tickets available until September 1st
Bundled Ticket Pricing
There are a few ways that bundled pricing can work for your event.
The first, is that if you’re offering multiple ticket types or purchase options you can create a lot of perceived value by adding multiple items into a bundled option for a discounted price compared to separate purchases.
The other, is that even if you are only offering one purchase option, you can bundle the quantities. So for example, if one ticket costs your attendees $20, you could offer a “bundle” of 5 tickets for $90 and a “bundle” of 10 tickets for $170 as a way to incentivize group purchases.
General Vs. Premium Tiered Ticket Price
Another strategy that we’ve seen work extremely well, and one that’s been around for ages, is offering a premium tiered ticket price such as a VIP ticket option.
This works well for two reasons: 1) The less expensive ticket options create an impression of making these lower priced tickets more affordable; and 2) Premium priced tickets have a perceived value of exclusivity for many guests.
The verdict? A win-win situation.
Promotional and Discount Codes
Offering promotional codes for specific segments, communities and channels is a very common practice.
For example, you can create unique codes for your event partners, sponsors, vendors, and even speakers (if applicable) so that they can share the event and the discount with their own audiences. Not only will this help increase your reach, it’s also a good way of keeping tabs on sales by being able to analyze which codes were used when buying tickets.
Similarly, you can create promo codes for industry influencers who might take an interest for your event, in exchange for them sharing the event to their audience.
Door Sales Vs. Online Sales
Another common practice is indicating that the price of tickets at the door (if available) will be priced higher than the price that you’re selling them for online.
Again, the reason for this comes down to creating demand and urgency as an incentive for attendees to make the purchase online and ahead of time. As an organizer, it’s a lot easier to have a successful event and to carry out the logistics day-of if you know how many people will be making it out to your event rather than playing a guessing game in the final hours.
Wrapping It Up
If you’ve made it this far (*claps hands*) it’s very clear to see that there a quite a few different strategies that you can deploy when it comes to ticket prices and selling your tickets. Importantly, you’ll want to move forward with the options that best align with your event goals and that best align with your marketing and promotional strategies as well. But remember, before determining your price and making your tickets available, it’s crucial that you have a good understanding of your total expenses and what it will take to break even.
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