Increase attendance at your free event using one simple approach: simply increase the value of those free tickets.
When people don’t spend their hard-earned money on a ticket to an event, their commitment to that event tends to become particularly low. Even more so should the event take place while Mercury is in retrograde. 😉 Fact is, if you’ve ever run a free event, you’ll know just how many people don’t bother showing up. And this is regardless of whether they’ve indicated “Going” or “Interested” on a platform such as Facebook.
As an unspoken rule in the events industry, and based on feedback from the countless event organisers that we work with, you can assume the no-show rate for a free event will be as high as 50%. That’s a huge contrast to that of a paid event where the no-show rate averages as low as 10%.
And while paid ticket holders do have a higher propensity to show up, we are in no way suggesting that you turn your free event into a paid one. Instead, follow these simple and effective tips for offering a paid - and premium - experience to your attendees. In addition to the free ones, this can be done all by adding value to every ticket.
Increase free attendance by offering a paid experience. Here’s how this works:
Anytime anyone considers booking a ticket to an event - whether consciously or subconsciously - they consider the value of their ticket. A free ticket is often not considered very valuable. Attendees might find more value in hanging with friends, or a night chilling at home with loved ones instead of the free ticket burning a hole in their pocket.
Now, let’s say in addition to that standard free ticket, you add in a paid ticketing option for R100. Not only will this paid ticket grant your ticket buyer access to preferred seating (or any other added value you may implement), it will also shift the perception of the value of the free ticket. By putting a price on a second, paid ticket, you’re essentially conveying that the free ticket is of similar worth. Studies have shown that a ticket's perceived value can be increased by charging just R10 for a more premium experience.
In turn, your event-goers will be more likely to show up: they now believe that your event is worth more. And everyone loves finding a steal of a deal.
Ideas for paid tickets at your free event
Offering an incentive in exchange for a paid ticket is a sure-fire way to increase the perceived value of your free tickets, and thereby the attendees of your event. Without an added incentive, you’re essentially asking your attendees to pay for the paid ticket for something they would have gotten for free otherwise.
To do this, you don’t need to spend more of your event budget. You don't even need to put a whole lot more effort than you’re already putting into your event. Have a think: what sorts of things will people gladly pay for? Here are two of our ideas:
- Better/preferred seats: If your event has general admission, consider placing paid ticket buyers in better, reserved seating. They’ll be able to arrive at their leisure, knowing their booked seats are waiting for them. At the same time, your free ticket buyers are likely to arrive earlier to snatch a good general admission seat. Doing this both creates an enhanced experience for your paid ticket buyers and increases the perceived value for your free ticket buyers.
- Connecting with speakers and talent: Your attendees are interested in your event for a reason: the content. Offering access to the speakers or talent at your event gives them the opportunity to forge deeper connections with them. This is a one-of-a-kind experience, which has been shown time and time again to be something that people will be happy to pay extra towards.
How to offer paid tickets to your free events without spending anything
Running paid ticketing comes with a cost, of course. But this doesn’t mean you need to cover it.
You can save by using a ticketer such as Quicket who has zero setup costs and only charges once a transaction takes place. So your free tickets will always be free. Your paid tickets will then hold a fee of 4.9% ex VAT (or less if your event has a higher volume) and a small fee to your ticket buyers.
- Use your sponsors: Use revenue from your sponsors to cover the costs of your ticket fees. Most sponsors would be happy to cover this amount since there’s something at your event that they want and need. Firstly, access to their target customer and secondly, the possibility of creating a subscriber base for their communications. When speaking to potential sponsors, you should be aiming to prove that your attendees are eager customers.
- Let your ticket buyers cover the fee: It’s industry standard for there to be ticket fees, so most ticket buyers expect some form of a fee when booking a ticket. Most ticketers such as Quicket should offer you the ability to move the fee to your event-goers. This means that without impacting the financials of your event, you can still offer a paid ticket option. Everyone wins.
Need some guidance working out the cost of a paid ticket? Check out our guide on how to find the perfect price for your event.
But remember to let your ticket-buyers know...
With all of that being said, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Always be upfront about any booking fees within the price of your ticket if you do intend to pass them onto your ticket buyers. Never leave these fees to only be displayed once the final checkout page of booking a ticket appears. This is guaranteed to leave a lot of your potential ticket buyers unhappy and feeling distrusting of your event. This in turn will make them all the more likely to close the page and leave without actually booking a ticket. In fact, unexpected costs are the number one cause of online shoppers not completing a purchase.
And that's all! With the right approach, a paid ticket can increase how your potential attendees perceive the value of your event. While also upping the value of that ticket which is now taking up valuable space in their inbox. Both of which will result in more people attending. Get that no-show rate down, and get started on creating your next event.
Nina is the Marketing Manager for Quicket and is passionate about growing a community of event organisers into one that is empowered to create incredible experiences. An event organiser herself, she’s also worked across brand marketing, social media, and in the non-profit world. She’s a burner (AfrikaBurn) at heart, an avid baker, loves a good hug, and cooking dinner for friends over a glass of good wine.