Ticket sales are a crucial aspect of any event – paid or free. The most obvious benefit of selling tickets is that they generate a substantial revenue stream. But what about free events?
Even free-to-attend events can use tickets to their advantage. Why? Tickets create demand. By asking attendees to book their spots – paid or free – you require them to make a commitment. People who acquire a ticket have a clear intention of coming to your event.
Call them tickets, passes, reservations, or whatever. They help you as a planner, a lot. Let’s dive into why tickets are an important aspect to consider for all your event marketing efforts.
Benefits of selling tickets
First, tickets help you track your pre-event marketing effectiveness. Are people responding to your posts and emails? Are your Instagram ads attracting real attendees or just likes? Take it from me, there is nothing worse than planning a wonderful event just to have no one come! Avoid scrambling for last-minute attendees by using ticket sales to keep you on track.
Secondly, tickets keep expenses in check. If you know how many people are coming, you can make more accurate estimations for things like F&B orders, seating, parking, bathrooms, giveaways, and more. And don’t forget to keep your guest counts up to date in your event marketing software.
Another benefit of ticket sales if their power to promote and increase event attendance. By advertising tickets, you create hype and even a sense of exclusivity for your event. Interested parties suddenly feel compelled to take action, rather than waiting until last minute to make a decision. We’ll get into strategies on how to increase ticket sales later.
The last big benefit of digital tickets is that you can use them to collect data from your attendees. Online registration forms can virtually collect anything you need. Not only is collecting personal and contact information important, but you can ask about food allergies, arrival times, music preferences, and more. It’s easy to capture information upfront, and might be harder to collect later on!
Platforms to help you sell tickets
One of the most popular sites to handle ticketing is Eventbrite. If you’re doing a one-off event, I’d recommend Eventbrite for a pretty reliable experience. But if you’re thinking of ongoing or recurring events, like a series of workshops, then Occassion is an awesome and very affordable, platform.
Another great event platform is Facebook Events. It’s easy to set up and free. The one downside to Facebook is the low level of commitment required. People may show “interest” in an event but have no real intention of attending. This can really throw you off as a planner.
For a free event, only plan for about 1/3rd of RSVPs to actually show up (from my experience). If a recent event you planned struggled to attract attendees, try tickets at your next one. Tickets can help boost your attendance rate.
Ways to increase ticket sales
Don’t let the fear of ticket sales keep you from selling tickets to an event. There are many simple strategies to help increase ticket sales that can be included in your pre-event marketing.
First, consider ticket discounts to increase ticket sales. An early-bird discount can help lock in attendees faster. You can also offer a discount code for referrals to encourage people to invite friends or share them on social media. For same-day ticket sales, consider changing the price to attract attendees at slower times. For example, you could give 10% off to anyone who arrives before noon.
Another related strategy is tiered-pricing. By tiering tickets, you can charge different rates and be sure to appeal to all audiences. General admission will appeal to the masses, but you can generate extra revenue by planning extra perks for VIP or all-access passes. Another avenue is offering group pricing. With a small discount or extra incentive, you can sell a larger number of tickets to a group who’d come together regardless. Plus, the group rate might motivate them to invite a few extra people!
Next, tickets allow you to fake it until you make it. How? You can create the illusion of exclusivity through ticket advertising. By advertising that there is a limited number of tickets available, you can increase ticket sales. Limited-time offers are a classic method of marketing to help motivate purchases. Don’t be afraid to play up the exclusivity of your event to create demand!
It’s not all about profits
Personally, I recommend charging for an event. Tickets are a realistic way to gauge interest, make estimations, and cover costs. The extra revenue that tickets provide can be re-invested into the event if you’re not interested in making a profit.
In the end, no matter what your goals are, selling tickets to your event can help you plan a better event overall.
Amanda Larson, CED, is a Certified Event Designer, marketer, and content creator. With a degree in journalism and special events management, Amanda has worked in marketing and events for both international startups and Fortune500 companies. She specializes in digital branding, copywriting, and graphic design freelancing for clients globally.
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