Presented by Cvent
The event industry has undergone so much change in the past two years, sometimes it feels like marketers are trapped in a state of “multi-event madness.” Virtual, hybrid and in-person events are the norm, and all require special care and considerations. Not the least of which is: how does an organization decide how to ticket and price their events in this new event landscape?
This is an important question, and one that needs your attention because of the incredible impact these event types can have on your bottom line. Opportunities have been greatly increased across all these event formats. But with those opportunities come many questions:
- What kind of registration types should you offer?
- How much should you charge?
- Should you tailor price points for different audiences?
- Can you still make money on free events?
- How can you prove ROI?
The key is understanding what attendees and sponsors want out of an event (value). That way, you can maximize ROI through direct revenue like tickets sales and sponsorships and other forms of ROI like sales pipeline, brand equity and knowledge transfer. Value-based ticketing and pricing methods will help you deliver on the promise of creating real value for attendees and sponsors. Now it’s time to apply these lessons to your events program.
How event formats differ in terms of value
In terms of value, it’s important, at the start, to consider a few questions that apply to all your events:
- What will attendees get out of the event?
- What are the benefits to sponsors?
- How does this event bring value to the business or organization?
Now, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each event type.
Virtual events offer more breadth, less depth
Virtual events: Virtual events can provide exponential reach and scale. They are powerful tools to attract attendees from a variety of backgrounds, roles and functions — thousands of people can attend an event from across the globe. They also offer organizations the opportunity to extend the value of event content beyond the event itself. While the audience may be larger, virtual events have less depth of engagement than in-person events. People may multitask, direct connections can be harder to forge and attention spans are limited. The audience may be less willing to pay for the event since their commitment to the experience is lower than if they were to attend in person.
In-person events off more depth, less breadth: In-person events are a tried-and-true format and will continue to be a staple in event programs. By nature, they foster meaningful relationships with and among attendees and sponsors. These relationships can lead to stronger business partnerships and lasting connections between people who share an experience at the same venue. In-person events offer greater depth of engagement with a more limited breadth of engagement — as they are limited to only those who can make the trip. The audience is typically more willing to pay for a ticket to attend in person for the depth of engagement the event will provide.
Hybrid events: Hybrid events provide planners the best of both worlds. Combining virtual and in-person formats offers a depth of engagement in person while reaching a broad audience virtually. The result is a flexible experience for any attendee, with more ticketing options. The challenge is to deliver value to all attendee groups since virtual and in-person experiences will be unique.
Producing effective hybrid events increases complexity and requires more resources. At the same time, planners can tailor event content to each audience to maximize both engagement and ROI. Hybrid events also provide flexible ticketing options depending on the experience an individual chooses. For example, some in-person attendees of a hybrid event may be willing to pay a higher price for access to on-demand content to complement their onsite experience.
Ticketing and pricing for optimal value
These event types add much more complexity to the ticketing and pricing question. At the top, remember: All the new event formats make this ticketing & pricing question a bit more complex, and that requires thinking beyond actual ticket sales to maximize value and ROI of your events, including:
- Direct revenue
- Attributed revenue
- Attributed sales pipeline
- Brand equity
- Knowledge exchange
Still, to address the topic at hand, ticket price is not just about calculating costs and adding a profit margin; it’s also about how much people want what you’re selling. A value-based ticketing strategy finds ways to ensure each buyer’s perceived value of the experience equals or exceeds the price they pay.
Use a tiered pricing system to add flexibility to your events. Offer packages ranging from free to super-premium to create the right balance of reach and engagement.
Differentiate your event by offering exclusive content that costs more to produce. Gate this high-value content behind the paywall.
Training materials, tools, learning guides or the ability to receive certifications or continuing education credits can incur costs that you’ll want to recoup with ticket fees.
Give super-premium ticket holders access to exclusive experiences not available to basic ticket holders.
Early bird offers
Incentivize your audience and sponsors with discounted ‘early-bird’ rates that will increase over time. Create discount codes and time-limited exclusive sales and offers.
Create sponsor packages that provide access to different audiences at varying tiers of investment. This lets sponsors reach varying levels of exposure and attendee engagement.
A final thought
While you can highlight event value in objective terms (number and type of sessions, speakers, exhibitors), what matters most is how your stakeholders perceive the event. By asking about their needs and desires before and after the event, you will discover how your event can help them succeed and achieve their goals.
The path to new revenue streams and “hidden ROI” in the new event landscape can be difficult to navigate without the right resources.
Dig deeper: Learn more in Cvent’s new ebook, How to Ticket and Price Virtual, Hybrid, and In-person Events.
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