In an article last month on the Eventbrite blog, Adriana Gascoigne of Girls in Tech was asked the most compelling element to get attendees to attend their virtual events? “...the speakers: high-caliber speakers and content that’s difficult for attendees to access if it weren’t for [us].”
In a normal year, a Girls in Tech Conference costs $300 and maybe their Global Classrooms anywhere from $35 to $150. When the pandemic began, they went to free. “But as the year moves on,” Gascoigne says, “we’re figuring out a happy medium for next year’s event to offer up a fee that keeps them signing up and actually attending the event. We’re trying to figure out what that number is.”
There is nothing trickier than event pricing right now. We’ve seen prices run the gamut from free to $600, and no one seems sure about their strategy—at least until after the fact. Gascoigne looks at the bright side, however. "We’re able to produce more and reach a lot more people globally through digital programming and it’s also less expensive overall to produce."
That Eventbrite article listed these three foundational strategies to price your event:
- Create demand with discounted prices for new events.
- Cover your business costs.
- Play up your value to attendees.
Let’s focus on that third one: value. The Financial Times put their value on special access and on-demand networking. For their FT Live event in October, they offered three tiers: The Knowledge Pass ($299) gave you access to the live talks and the Q&A and polls. The Professional Pass ($599) added meet-the-journalist sessions and that networking—and video—on demand. The Group Pass ($3,000) multiplied everything by six people.
On the lower end, Christine Weiser, content/brand director, Tech & Learning, a Future plc division, said they charged just $25 for a big virtual event they put on—with good value—and more than 1,300 people signed on! “We had no idea,” she said. “Will they pay more? For education they do have professional development budgets.” She said if you do price low be ready for late signups. I’ll bet they charge a little more next time.
“We feel that people are getting a lot more value [this year],” Jared Waters, training director for Business Valuation Resources, said about their recent Virtual Divorce Conference. “We can do a lot of things to add value to an event. So we figure a price point—[they are charging about half of what they charged last year]—and then throw a lot of value on it. It really is a great deal for our attendees.” That value included pre- and post-conference bonus sessions and a $200 credit on their registration to a future in-person event.
“Consider the value [of] what people are getting in exchange for what they’re paying,” said Darrah Brustein, lifestyle designer and founder of Network Under 40, a series of networking events for professionals in Atlanta, Nashville, and Baltimore. Brustein only charges $10-$25 for her networking events but $97-$297 for her summit because she knows it provides in-depth value.
The National Association of Broadcasters broke pricing down for their big October event, offering a $75 Marketplace Pass, and then content passes that varied in number of days and in pricing—$149 to $499.
“We started off at a lower number when we first offered our classes,” Susie Martin, co-founder, It’s for Charity! Events, said. “Once we saw the popularity, we slowly raised our prices until we found a good spot. It was experimental.”
Experimental is a good word for these times. Your audience is unique so what works for you in pricing may be as well.
Then there’s the Bloody Mary Festival. “The normal in-person festival costs $50 (general admission) and you get two-and-a-half hours sampling Bloody Marys from 10-15 different vendors,” Evan Weiss said. “The virtual event ticket costs $75 and includes five bottles of artisanal Bloody Mary mix from around the country shipped direct to the ticket holder. Then on October 10th, each ticket holder can tune into the virtual Bloody Mary Festival."
Whether attendees make it that far after getting their swag boxes is a story for another day.