A Guide to Event Ticket Pricing Strategies for In-person, Virtual, and Hybrid Events
Ticket prices can have a profound effect on the success of your events. When you strike the perfect balance between pricing and event content, you increase the chances your event is packed with eager attendees excited to learn new things and network with like-minded people. On the other hand, when you price tickets too high or too low, you risk alienating would-be attendees or missing out on an opportunity to generate revenue.
Of course, figuring out the best ticket pricing strategies is no easy feat. And in the age of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, when there are more distinct types of events than before, it becomes even more challenging. But offering multiple ticket types allows potential attendees to self-segment and purchase a ticket that fits their needs and budget.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some proven event ticket pricing strategies you can use to make sure your next event is well-attended and profitable.
What is the optimal approach to event ticket pricing?
Determining the optimal approach for event ticket pricing requires a multifaceted strategy. At its core, understanding your target audience and the perceived value of your event is paramount. Event pricing strategies should not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, they should be tailored to the unique characteristics and goals of each event.
The format of your event, whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, plays a significant role in pricing. For instance, in-person events often come with higher overhead costs but can offer a richer experience, justifying a higher ticket price. On the other hand, virtual events might have lower operational costs but require pricing that reflects the different kinds of value they provide. It’s essential to balance making your event accessible to as many attendees as possible while ensuring it remains profitable.
Lastly, always be open to feedback. Engage with past attendees, conduct surveys, and gather insights to refine your pricing strategies over time. This iterative approach ensures that your pricing remains competitive and aligned with the evolving expectations of your audience.
Pricing Strategies for In-person Events
At a core level, event ticket pricing strategies should be based on how valuable potential attendees think the experience will be. Since attending in-person events means participants get the full experience, event professionals can get away with charging more for in-person events than for virtual or hybrid formats.
Even though you can charge more for in-person events, you still need to arrive at a number that makes sense. To do this, start by looking at the ticket pricing you used for previous events to see what worked and didn’t. This should give you an idea of how much you might charge for your next event. Additionally, spend some time researching events from competitors to see what they’re charging and whether your ballpark idea is in the same neighborhood.
You should also consider surveying folks who’ve attended previous events, as well as members of your organization’s community — like business partners, customers, and supporters — and asking them directly how much they might spend to attend. Next, determine your revenue and attendance goals for the event and calculate how many sales you’d need to make to achieve them.
Based on all of this data, you should have a decent idea of price points that make sense for general admittance to the event.
Before you lock in pricing, you also need to determine what types of event tickets you’ll offer. Although ticket types vary on an event-by-event basis, here are some popular options worth considering:
- Early-bird tickets give participants a discount when they’re among the first to buy tickets to your event
- VIP tickets may cost more, but they give attendees access to additional experiences, such as exclusive keynote speaker meet-and-greets and VIP lounges
- Tiered tickets enable attendees to choose how much access they’ll have during the event and how much they’ll pay (e.g., an all-access ticket that gives attendees access to everything or a ticket for marketers that provides access to everything but exclusive networking parties)
- Bundled tickets offer discounts when groups of employees buy tickets in bulk, which is great for trade shows and user conferences
- Add-on tickets give attendees the option to pay more for premium services or experiences (e.g., an exclusive keynote that fills up fast)
Pricing Strategies for Virtual Events
Although virtual events are a great way to bring people from all over the world together, they don’t offer the same opportunities as in-person events. Attendees don’t go to a physical venue, the networking experience isn’t the same, and it can be more difficult to be engaged when you’re staring at a screen instead of sitting in the same room as a speaker.
For these reasons, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that just 10% of virtual events cost money to attend, according to Bizzabo data. For comparison’s sake, 25% of hybrid and in-person events are paid.
Just because peers might not be charging folks to attend virtual events doesn’t mean you have to do the same. As you begin formulating your ticket pricing strategy for your virtual event, here are some ticket types to consider:
- Free tickets increase attendance numbers in exchange for the quality of those attendees, which could crush event ROI
- Pay-what-you-can tickets are a good option for companies with deep pockets that are looking to build goodwill among their customers or for companies that want to ensure their event is as accessible and wide-reaching as possible to attendees of all socioeconomic levels
- VIP tickets offer participants an enhanced experience in exchange for money (e.g., a lunch-and-learn session with the company’s founders)
- Swag bag tickets allow attendees to pay a fee to receive a goodie bag filled with shirts, socks, hats, or other swag — including digital swag like NFTs or gift cards
- Bundled tickets are an excellent option for virtual events because, more often than not, multiple attendees will be attending the event together
Pro tip: If you’re hosting a paid virtual event with attendees all over the country, you may have to pay sales tax to certain states even if you never step foot in them.
Learn more about virtual event pricing in Virtual Event Pricing Strategies: To Charge or Not To Charge?
Pricing Strategies for Hybrid Events
Hybrid events combine in-person elements with virtual experiences. Some attendees show up at the venue while others watch the event from their homes or another location. Each in-person session and keynote is recorded and streamed for virtual attendees, while in-person attendees catch them live and in the flesh.
With the right event management software, virtual attendees can engage with speakers and panelists via real-time chat, surveys, Q&As, and polls. And they can network with other attendees and even applaud speakers virtually, making the at-home experience a unique one.
In addition to some of the other types of tickets already mentioned in this article, your hybrid event ticket strategy should include:
- In-person tickets cost more than virtual tickets but give attendees access to all facets of your event
- Virtual tickets should be more affordable for folks who can’t attend the event in the flesh, or even free
- In-person VIP tickets give in-person attendees access to exclusive sessions
- Virtual VIP tickets give virtual attendees access to exclusive sessions
Don’t forget: If you run out of in-person tickets, make sure you play up the opportunity to attend virtually.
Source: Amazon unBoxed
Designing Event Pricing Strategies for Maximum Profit
Maximizing profit from your event doesn’t necessarily mean setting the highest ticket price possible. Instead, it’s about finding the sweet spot where ticket price aligns with the value attendees perceive they’re getting. Data analysis is a powerful tool in this endeavor. By diving deep into past event data, organizers can uncover insights about what worked, what didn’t, and areas of opportunity.
Incorporating innovative technologies can also play a pivotal role in shaping your pricing strategy. Consider Bizzabo’s Klik SmartBadge™, for instance. More than just a badge, it offers interactive features that enhance networking and engagement during events. By offering such value-added experiences, organizers can justify higher ticket prices, increasing revenue.
However, it’s not just about the technology or data. Listening to your audience, understanding their needs, and continuously adapting is key. By diversifying pricing options and providing clear value at each price point, organizers can design strategies that cater to a wide range of attendees while maximizing overall profit.
Bonus: 3 More Event Ticket Pricing Strategy Tips
Now that you have a better idea of some strategies that work for specific types of events, here are three additional tips you can use to sell more tickets to your next event:
- Last-minute ticket offers. If your event is approaching and you haven’t sold enough tickets, consider implementing a promotion or contest to encourage more folks to get involved. For example, you can run a social media giveaway for steeply discounted event tickets.
- Leverage the principle of scarcity. Nobody likes to miss out on transformational experiences. By baking some scarcity into your event ticketing strategy — whether that’s telling folks you only have 99 tickets left or that they only have two more days to buy tickets — you should be able to drive more sales due to FOMO.
- Offer promo codes. Who doesn’t like getting into an event for less? One way to drive more sales is by offering incentives to attendees. For example, you might offer folks who have been to several of your events a discount on a future event. You can also offer referral bonuses and let people attend your event for free to get a certain number of other participants to sign up.
7 Questions To Ask To Increase Event Ticket Sales and Registrations
Before you go, here are some key questions you should be asking to ensure you’re maximizing your event ticket pricing strategy:
- What is the minimum ticket price you need to break even? (Calculate by dividing the sum of all event costs by the expected total ticket sales or number of attendees.)
- Are competitors running similar events around the same time, and is your pricing competitive?
- Are you allowing potential attendees to self-segment and choose a ticket type that fits their needs and budget?
- Do your ticket prices have enticing features (i.e., are you using round numbers like $150, or are you using psychological principles like $149)?
- Are there additional fees that registrants need to pay? (Avoid including fees in the ticket price, and be transparent about fees.)
- Have you considered working with partners or agencies to lower or expand ticket prices?
- Is your event website mobile friendly, and is it WCAG compliant so anyone and everyone can easily register?
Optimize Your Event Ticket Pricing Strategy with Bizzabo
To be sure, coming up with the right event ticket pricing strategy and implementing it successfully is a tall order. While the job is a tough one, it’s much easier to accomplish with modern event management software in place.
For example, Bizzabo lets you create free and paid registration for events alongside easy-to-set-up ticket types and promo codes. Plus, you can establish personalized event ticketing journeys based on the format of your event and the types of premium offerings you’ll have (e.g., 1:1 meetings and exclusive networking opportunities).
Bizzabo makes it simple to offer multiple ticket types to all kinds of events. But don’t just take our word for it. Get a demo today to learn more about how Bizzabo can help you perfect your ticket pricing strategy and make sure your next event is the most popular one yet.