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Rethinking Your Ticket Launch

When you launch your ticket sales, you want your tickets to sell. You want to get an idea of how full your event will be early on. You want cash to start flowing towards you so that you can begin to reimburse the costs of the events. In short, the sooner your event sells out, the better. What’s the problem with that? Well, people procrastinate. Just as a college student will write their midterm paper the day before it’s due, they will buy their tickets at the last minute. To get people off their butts, you need to have a price model at ticket launch that provides an incentive to buy early. We’ve recently seen a trend towards a new kind of ticket pricing model, a count based one which is incredibly effective.

The Early Bird Model and it’s Problems

The most common ticket price model that we see as a solution to this problem is the early bird ticket launch model. This model offers a discounted ticket price to anyone who buys before a set date. Events all over the country use this ticket price model to boost their early ticket sales. If you haven’t used it yourself, you’ve been to an event that has. For the most part, this ticket price model is popular because it does tend to increase early sales, but it has some glaring issues.

For one, ticket buyers are still going to procrastinate. All you have done is set a sooner deadline for them to wait on. Even if your early bird model does succeed, you have now sold a large amount of tickets at a discount rate. The goal is to get more money early on, not diminish your overall margins by giving away half your tickets for cheap. This lack of control over the quantity of tickets sold before the early bird deadline should make any event professional nervous.

There is also a huge logistical issue for scaling any ticket launch model that relies on time, because time is relative. Not in an Einstein way (bet you weren’t expecting a physics joke), but in a time zone way. If your event is selling tickets nationally then you can’t just tell your customers that early bird sales will close at midnight. Midnight happens four times a day in the continental United States. Will someone who missed the early bird deadline in Boston be able to call his friend in Seattle to help him out? Does Seattle friend have to make sure he gets tickets by 8:00 when it’s midnight in Boston? You see the issue.

The Solution? A New Kind of Ticket Launch Model

Because of these frustrating issues, we have seen an increasing number of events ditch the early bird ticket pricing model. What takes its place is a new count based model. Count based models offer a discount for a fixed number of tickets, rather than for a fixed amount of time. Events using this solution offer the first 20% or so of tickets for some amount off, regardless of how long it takes for the tickets to sell.

This model takes root in the most basic rule of economics: supply and demand. The rule states that when supply goes down, demand goes up. Apply that to discounted tickets and you find that artificially limiting the supply makes customers want it much more. They no longer have a time frame to feel safe in, the discount could run out at literally any moment. This leads these discounted tickets to sell out quick, giving you a great boost of early sales to prepare your event with. This way you also gain control over how many tickets get sold at a low rate, limiting the potential impact on your margins. Basically, you get the benefits of early sales without the logistical problems and risks of the early bird model.

Updated on August 11th, 2017