23 Jun Event Pricing Strategies
At JDC, we always base an event’s ticket pricing on the type of experience an event promises to deliver. With pent-up demand for in-person events still quite strong, people are craving the intimacy of in-person networking, and they are willing to pay for the value of transformative face-to-face experiences. Here are a few things to keep in mind while considering pricing.
The first step is to determine how much people will be willing to pay for experiences, information, products, and contacts that they might not otherwise have been exposed to. Call this step “creating and determining an event’s value.”
For example, a trade show’s power of transformation comes from changing purchasing behavior through learning about new exhibitors and products. Participants are not paying for something they could watch online or read on their own. They’re paying for an experience they can have with other people, learning from each other and sharing the moment.
Government events, on the other hand, are often primarily about the dissemination of information, with significantly less emphasis on or need for networking. Their purpose is altruistic and a call to action – they create transformations in the ways that things are done. This impacts your pricing, as you shouldn’t necessarily charge as much money for dissemination of information, especially if that information is available elsewhere.
You also must ask yourself how to meet the expectations of multiple audience demographics. For example, this is the first time in U.S. history that four generations have been in the workplace at once – Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. Each might have different values and desires in experiencing events, just as executives and middle management might differ. Find out what these differing groups expect and how to meet those expectations, whether through keynote speakers, panel talkbacks, roundtable discussions, etc.
Weighing all these points will help you to determine what to put into and provide through your event, and it will help you evaluate your associated costs. From there, determining your break-even point really depends on your event. It’s not like one pattern fits all. You have to look at multiple eventualities. Then you want to look at your competitors’ events of a comparable size and find out what they’re charging. Finally, you want to think about how many tickets you realistically think you will sell.
Divide projected expenses by projected sales to calculate your break-even ticket cost. If that number is different than your competitors, figure out cost savings, raise your ticket price, or find a way to sell more tickets. Adjust each of these three factors until you reach a favorable price point.
We usually recommend timed batch sales over early bird pricing. Own the fact that there’s going to be a whole bunch of people who are going to be adopters – not necessarily early adopters, but they’re going to adopt. Go ahead and grab those sales at the date when you need a first round of revenue. The second group usually purchases tickets two weeks out from an event, so set a price increase of roughly 10 percent by that date. Beyond that, set a further 10 percent price increase for your last-minute adopters.
We also recommend bundled pricing. If people can expand their experience for a smaller all-together cost than each opportunity individually, they will often choose that package, especially premium packages.
Additionally, promo codes can help you to reach specific segments of your audience. Provide your partners with the assets for social media, including promo codes, and they will feel more motivated to promote the event.
Ongoing Online Lessons
While many in-person events have returned, there are still some hybrid and virtual events taking place. While people are eager and hungry to be together in person, some still want or need online options, for a multitude of reasons. While this might limit or even entirely omit networking opportunities, your event still provides information and an opportunity to ask questions and engage. While your break-even point is going to be less expensive than an in-person event’s, your pricing structure should still be evaluated the same way, with an increased focus on content to provide as rich and transformative an experience as possible.
Kara Dao is the Chief Operating Officer at JDC Events. She has a degree from George Mason University and over 2 decades of leadership and executive experience in the events industry. Kara is certified by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, has her Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM) and has served as a Mentor for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).