Free vs Paid Events

Free vs Paid Events

Free vs. paid events is an ongoing debate in our industry.

For example, TED and the Web Summit are very expensive events and content is available online for free, often live streamed, both by event organisers and attendees. The audience is still ready to pay the price tag to be there and mingle with other participants.

Free for #eventsprofs

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Events for the event industry are usually free, for example IMEX, IBTM and The Meetings Show. Not only they are free – but they even cover travel expenses and accommodation for qualified planners by offering the Hosted Buyer model.

 

Over the past few years, free events launched in London and are growing in popularity, such as the Event Huddle, Citizen Event, Event Tech Live, Event Tech Talks and others!

What are the business objectives of free events?

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From an association perspective – to offer continual personal development and increase

  • member engagement
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Exposure & PR
  • Educate about product or service
  • Collect data
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Test the product

What are the challenges when organising free events?

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  • Securing sponsors
  • High drop out rats as people don’t associate value to the event
  • Getting qualified leads
  • Difficult to plan for no-shows
  • Getting the right audience
  • Trying to show delegates that the event has value whilst not asking for actual money
  • Security
  • Extra room hire and catering costs
  • Food waste

How to determine event ticket price?

  • Know what the industry average price tag is
  • Base it on audience and location
  • Research
  • Build all facility charges into the ticket cost and calculate all fees billed per ticket sold
  • Consider event duration
  • Local economic conditions may be also factor to determine ticket price

How many price categories are recommended?

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  • One to three categories
  • Don’t overwhelm or confuse attendees with too many categories
  • Not so many as to confuse attendees but enough to allow flexibility of option
  • Freemium model – offering the event for free with some paid for seminars

How can you increase ticket sales?

  • Create FOMO
  • Have event ambassadors
  • Engage in face to face networking
  • Provide quality content and speakers
  • Create discounts
  • Do targeted marketing through segmentation of data

As the industry evolves, this will stay a challenge, but when we better understand our delegates, the industry and its dynamics, maybe we can offer a model that works.

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