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How to Determine Ticket Prices For Your Next Event

For most paid events, the biggest revenue generator will be the actual tickets sold to your event. Whether your revenue will be donated to a charitable cause or kept as profit, the goal of almost all paid events is to generate money. If you’re not making a profit off of your events or your ROI for the entire event is lower than you’d like, you might be pricing your tickets incorrectly.

There are many approaches to figuring out how much your event ticket should cost, and they typically hinge on the different types of tickets and packages you’re offering. For example, many event planners like to offer early bird pricing to increase pre-sales and generally drive up their ticket sales ahead of time. This approach might help pad your sales numbers but you could be missing out on revenue if you don’t know when your attendees are most likely to purchase their tickets.

Before you adjust your pricing model, get familiar with how customers buy tickets to your event. Do you see a large spike in premium ticket and package sales as soon as the event goes on sale? Do most people purchase their tickets starting one week before your event? Are there any patterns to which tickets sell out the quickest or which tickets tend to not sell as well as expected? Knowing basic information like this can help you pick the right ticket pricing model for you.

Here are 6 pricing strategies you can use for your next event.

Cost-Plus Pricing

This is by far the most common pricing model. Cost-Plus works by determining the total cost of producing and running the event, determining your desired profit margin, and pricing the tickets accordingly based on your expected number of attendees.

This option is great because it’s a simple, straightforward way to price your tickets that almost always guarantees a profit of some sort. The issue is that this pricing model doesn’t add your event’s perceived value into the equation. Your attendees don’t know and likely don’t care how much it costs for you to run your event, so they’re typically willing to pay more than the “bare minimum” price if they think your event is valuable. Essentially, you could be losing out on a higher ROI.

Early Bird Pricing

The early bird gets the worm, but in this case the worm is a discounted ticket.  This discounted pricing applies to people who purchase tickets to your event prior to a set deadline. This is usually a hard date and time, but it can also be based around another instance such as buying tickets before another event, before a new website is launched, or before the full event lineup is finalized.

This option is a good way to encourage early sales and build up buzz about your event. After all, the more people who have purchased tickets ahead of time, the more people there are to spread the word online and in person. That being said, it can be tricky to get the timing down for an early bird pricing special. If it runs for too long, most attendees won’t jump on this deal until the last week or two before the price increases. If the window is too short or if you don’t advertise the early bird special with enough time in advance, you may end up losing out on some advance sales.

Rush Pricing

Rush pricing is a way for you to sell any unsold seats or packages close to the event date. Broadway theaters typically do this the day of the performance for any seats they haven’t sold in advance so that their remaining seats can be filled, but this is a great tactic for events of any type.

 While this pricing method accomplishes the goal of selling as many tickets as possible, you run the risk of training your attendees to purchase their tickets at the last moment possible in an attempt to get a better price.

Competition Pricing

Keeping up with the Joneses can be hard, especially if the Joneses are hosting a similar event to yours. Take a look at your competitors or similar events in your industry that may not be direct competition. Are they doing something you’re not? Do they typically sell out ahead of time? Observing their pricing model and sales strategy may help shed some light on where your event can improve.

This option is easy because someone else has already done the work and research for you, but this is also the downfall of this method. You don’t know what research your competition has done to decide on their ticket prices and their event pricing could be based on other factors that don’t affect your event. Competition pricing is a good starting point for changing your pricing strategy, but it’s unlikely that directly copying your competitor’s exact price structure will result in a boost in revenue for your event.

First X Tickets Sold at a Discounted Price

Similar to early bird pricing, you can choose to sell the first 100 or 200 tickets for a reduced price. This incentivizes buying tickets as soon as your event goes on sale to boost sales as soon as the event is made available to the public. If you’re looking for a way to capitalize on FOMO (aka fear of missing out), this option is great.

Unlike the early bird pricing where your customers know when it’ll end, selling a pre-set number of tickets for a discount is a mystery because your customers have no way of knowing how many tickets have already been sold. The downside to this is that you’ll need to determine how much of a discount can be provided to really make this an incentive. You’ll then need to figure out how many tickets can be sold at this price point without losing money.

Price Based on Demand

Dynamic pricing is a fairly standard tactic for large events and is based on simple economic principles. As your supply of tickets dwindles, demand for the remaining tickets increases. In turn, your customers will pay more for the remaining tickets. You can continue to increase this price incrementally as your sales increase, and even drop the price down the day of the event if you find yourself left with unsold tickets.

Not knowing what the price will be at any given moment highly incentivizes customers to purchase their tickets ASAP because they want to hop on the best deal before the price goes up. This is similar to how airlines handle their ticket pricing. The price increases the closer to the flight date and fluctuates based on how many customers are viewing and booking that specific flight. This is also why you can sometimes get a cheaper rate if you risk buying your ticket at the last moment- the airline would rather get you on the flight for a reduced rate rather than risk flying with empty seats.

The demand-based pricing model can generate some backlash if customers contact you about pricing discrepancies. There are bound to be a few unhappy customers that figure out that they paid more than their friend simply because they purchased their ticket at a different time.