7 Pricing Strategies to Drive Event Ticket Sales

Event pricing is a daunting task – especially when you’re introducing paid-for events for the first time. If prices are set too low, people may deem your event to be cheap and decide not to come.  Too high and you may not get the attendance levels you want.  Either way, it’s important you get it right as it can have a big impact on your event’s headcount.

Of course, technology today does make things much easier.  Most event management systems support a wide range of payment gateways which allow you to automate ticket payments as part of the event’s registration process.  The tools ensure your delegate payments are managed in a secure way and that you’re complying to PCI-DSS standards (something you have to do if you’re accepting payments via credit or debit cards).

NEW: 6 Questions to Ask Before Pricing Your Hybrid Event

Event management/registration systems also allow you to be a lot more flexible in the way you price events and manage your cashflow.  You can use tiered pricing structures where booking fees can automatically change according to timings and audience categories chosen by you.  You can also offer discounts and promo codes which can be used alongside any promotional activities you decide to do around your events.

Having this kind of flexibility not only has the potential to make your events more profitable, but more importantly, allows you to implement pricing strategies that encourage more people to register and sign up. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the pricing schemes that you can use to boost your event’s ticket sales and registrations.

Smart Pricing Schemes That Drive Event Registration

One of the most important tasks to determine before we look at other pricing strategies is making sure that the original price from which all discounts and offers can be made, is set correctly. You will have all the event costs to hand and your organisation will have a view on what it wants to make on top of the costs. This determines your base price.

If you could charge your base price each time without discounts, your event will be in a strong financial position as you’ll maintain a healthy profit for each sale. More often than not though, you will find that you have to provide discounts to attract people to your event. And you need to figure out how low you can go so that you don’t end up giving too much away and your event becomes a loss.

1) Early Bird/Time Discounts

Early bird discounts are one of the most popular ways of driving registrations and ticket sales. You simply decide what reduced ticket price you are going to offer attendees in return for their commitment to you by booking early. It’s an effective way of helping move cash flow into your event quickly and it also provides you with marketing ammunition as you can announce how quickly the early bird tickets are going which can play into the ‘fear of missing out’ for those  attendees that haven’t yet decided . Do not extend the early bird deadline as this will show that sales are not going as quickly as anticipated.

2) Member/Affiliation  

This is another simple pricing strategy. The member of an association or professional body pays a lower price ticket compared to someone who isn’t a member. This strategy works really well when your event is made up predominantly by association or institute members. Event management systems can help here by personalising the registration questions for different audience categories with different pricing set for each. Have a look here at how The Royal Statistical Society implemented automatic membership checks as part of their event’s registration system so that members and non-members always pay the correct fees.

Read: The Value of Event Data for Associations and Membership Organisations

3) Bundled/Group Discounts  

How you present various elements of your event and how you subsequently price them is all important in this strategy. What elements can you take and bundle together? For example, let’s imagine you are planning a two-day conference and a black-tie dinner. Rather than have just a single price for the overall event, you could have separate pricing for parts of the conference and for the dinner. You could play around with the figures and come up with some value offers for delegates and you can create perceived value by adding multiple items into a bundle at a reduced price in comparison to having all the items purchased separately.

4) Valued Customers and VIPs

VIPs and valued customers also offer another opportunity for using pricing schemes to ticket sales and event registrations. You could have separate discount codes for VIPs and valued customers because of their importance to your event. However, before doing so, ask yourself does your VIP want a discount code? Would you be better off by providing access to part of the event that is not available to other delegates? Something as simple as a ‘meet the speakers behind the scenes’ could be a value proposition.

A valued customer could be different to a VIP where you can offer them something to reward their loyalty. Again, you could use your event management system to personalise the registration journey for both audiences to demonstrate how important they are. For example, having a unique registration path for your VIP guests will ensure the questions and prices offered to them aren’t visible to other attendees which will make them feel that the whole experience was ‘personalised’ for them throughout the whole registration journey.  You can get all sorts of other personalisation ideas from this industry eBook – The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation’.

5) Promo Codes

Promo codes is another strategy you could use to help ticket sales and registrations.  Think of Groupon vouchers or Top Table restaurant discounts and you get the idea. You decide on your special code for your event and then make it available to whoever you like. You could make it available to delegates. You could make it available to speakers, sponsors or exhibitors – this encourages them to use their networks which helps your event with additional marketing outreach. You could give codes to trade publications or associations. There are many opportunities. However, giving a valuable promo code should only be done if it makes commercial sense for your organisation.

6) Multiple Ticket Sales    

With multiple ticket sales, you offer a discount on the basis of a number of tickets being bought in bulk at the same time – otherwise known as, group bookings. It works in the way that a lot of award dinner tables are sold. A single ticket is £200 and a table of 10 would be £2,000 but if the whole table is bought by one person who arranges to bring the 9 other people the price reduces to £1,800. You could apply this approach to your event. Again, using a dedicated awards management solution can be particularly useful here when it comes to cutting down a big part of the administration involved.

Read: 4 Ways Technology Can Help You Run Better Awards Events

7) Flash Sales    

This strategy is one that you’ve probably seen work really well in retail. Just think of promotions such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. People that buy products or services on those days usually receive some great bargains. You can apply the same thinking to boost your event registrations. Have a sale or special offer. Make sure it is well publicised otherwise people could miss it. You decide how long the sale is. Maybe it’s a day maybe an hour. It’s all in your control.


We have identified seven different ways in which adjusting your pricing strategy could lead to more ticket sales. What is important is that you pick the one that will have the most impact on your event. Of course – you could mix and match some of these ideas too.  And if you find something isn’t working, try a new approach. Sometimes you need to experiment to find the strategy that works.

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