10 Alternative Business Models for Events

A lot of discussion took place over the past week about free vs paid, reality is that there is much more out there than just charging a fee to attend.

It’s no new topic, we know. But lately Chris Anderson re-introduced it, Malcom Gladwell made a big deal out of it and Seth Godin gave the final word. On our end, Jeff Hurt asked us all a question and we are here to do our small bit.

Reality is event professionals are challenged by the current market conditions. The ‘I charge you 800$/€/£ entry ticket’ superb marketing technique apparently does not work anymore. Possibly because attendees are increasingly empowered to blog, tweet and share how crap an event was. That was not the case before social networks and media.

I was asked by Cece Lee about an alternative model for (virtual) events rather than charging a fee. Although I felt an urgency to keep it for myself, I subsequently thought that sharing results of a 3 hours brainstorming session could benefit our industry, even if 2 event planners will change their rotten practice and take action. Hopefully starting tomorrow.

One condition. And it is not about safeguarding my butt. What follows is the result of a small brainstorming session with few friends and event experts as well as weeks of reading. It’s not meant to be a guide. It’s not necessarily applicable to all sorts of events. It may not refer to what you do.

The idea is to think out of the box for once and stimulate your business practice to be innovative and disruptive. If you can think of more please do comment and add your perspective.

How to apply Insperience as an alternative business model
Borrowing the term from Trendwatching, have a look at how Bacardi goes to the source, pushes the boundaries of a close one-to-one relationship. In a user generated web 2.0, going personal is mandatory and could result in healthy business.

How to use sponsorship to increase revenues for events
This is possibly the most used technique to reduce the cost impact on attendees yet not fully taken advantage of. Linkedin, Xing, twitter and tools like Make Your Mark Connect are just few of the available hundreds.

How to use layaway to increase revenues for events
If you really need to sell and cannot make a revenue in any other way, consider layaway. The Coachella Festival implemented it successfully.

How to use membership marketing to increase revenues for events
Find a relevant and interesting fil rouge. A meaningful and compelling connector. Start an association, a conglomerate, an online group or a social network. Charge for membership and give events for free. Combine with external sponsorships for better results.

How to use hybrid event marketing to increase revenues for events
You don’t have to abruptely give up your compelling desire to sell tickets. You can have a mix of free and paid events. Usually free events are great tools to promote what you do. You can aim big for free events and go smaller for paid ones. If you combine both and create an online community to manage engagement, you’ll be up and running soon.

How to use sell premium services to increase revenues for events
Being in the VIP is always a cool thing isn’t it. Trade show Masters understand that quite well. Most trade shows open up access to the large audience and sell ridiculously priced conference schemes. At least you are not denying access and you are selling premium only to those masochistic enough to pay super premium for content.

How can crowdsourcing increase revenues for events
Collaborative event planning is becoming a reality. On the wave of crowdsourced initiatives the power of the collective is gonna be increasingly relevant and challenge the big guys. Use events to generate compelling, shared knowledge. Use the vast amount of readily available technology to capture that content and then sell it in forms of audio, video or text.

How can franchising increase revenues for events
Conceptualize a cool idea. A very smooth, innovative and ‘contaminated’ form of event. Create a website next to it. Start a community around your website. Sell the idea to sponsors and franchisees. Two great examples are Pecha Kucha and StartupWeekend

Using merchandising to increase revenues for events
Event professionals’ attention to details is usually devoted to utterly useless and irrelevant matters. A sound merchandise strategy identifies the relevant item at the right time. Oversimplifying the concept, in a networking event earning a revenue from the bar seems obvious. Digging further, Orange and its Glastonbury Power Pump looks like a damn cool idea.

How flash mobs can increase revenues for events
We learned by now the power of flash mobs. Capitalizing on having no fixed structure can cut costs tremendously on venue and overheads. Southern Comfort Pop up Night Clubs are a great example.

Note 1: This post also takes inspiration from the continuous reading of Springwise and BoxUK, which we invite you to subscribe to.

Note 2: Ranking is not relevant – make your own ranking if you want!

About The Author
Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com, he is an international speaker, author and consultant.
Comment Policy Comments
  • JeffHurt

    What a fantastic and progressive thinking list of alternative business models for events. There are some great thoughts here that meeting and event professionals should read, consider and use for springboard to new event models.

    Great work and hat tips to you, your brainstorming team and everyone's efforts here. Keep pushing the boundaries of traditional meeting and event planning Julius!

  • Very nice of you Jeff – thanks

  • In addition to Pecha Kucho format there's the Ignite meetings that are springing up all over
    – and Speech Coaching

  • In addition to Pecha Kucho format there's the Ignite meetings that are springing up all over
    – and Speech Coaching

  • Great adds Kare


  • Share event costs with another group using the same facility; better yet, team up with your “competitors.”

  • deep25btech

    well as there is discussion about events we should check some <a href=http://www.bvenues.com >Event Venues first.

  • Pingback: Why Invisible Festival is a Fantastic Idea | Event Manager Blog()

  • angelia110

    <h2 align=”center”>Ugg Boots–More Fashion Or Just A Trend Now?</h2>

    –>Several years ago, a new popular wind has been blowing the nation. Some adored it while others are amazed and confused by its success. This fashion trend is known as the Ugg boots. Although an unattractive appearance, Uggs has gained a huge following among all fans. Not only they are extremely trendy,but also their features to keep feet warm in cold day and cool in summer.

    –>But Uggs is more than just sheepskin boots; it has casual uggs, slippers as well as handbags and other accessories. Ugg cardy, Ugg Short, Ugg Tall, .Classic ugg boots are comfortable, stylish, and great to wear in any occasion. Ugg slippers are warm and comforting that both indoor or outside is ok . Ugg also offers a full line of high-quality handbags and backpacks to match your Uggs. A pair of Ugg boots, matched Ugg handbag is the perfect shows.

    –>Why Be Fashionable – Why Not? This fashion style, perfect deductived by famous stars, had blow up a fashion to imitate of wearing UGGs, to perfectly match with long jeans, minipants, skirts,etc.

    –>With Kate Winslet, "Declaimer," "Revolutionary Road," two outstanding performances in the film won the Golden Globe for best supporting actress and best leading actress in the film drama category, won several Oscar nominations . She was photographed shoed a pair of UGGs, with her daughter the same impersonation. And reporters caught Hayden Panettiere at a vegetarian Thai restaurant on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Hayden sported a denim hot pants and Ugg boots.

    –>Ugg Boots–Is More Fashion Or Just A Trend Now?

    –>The Ugg boot is made with sheepskin instead of regular leather which helps you stay cool in the summer and keeps you warm and dry in the winter making it the perfect boots to wear in all seasons.

    –>No matter is fashion or just a tread now, it also can be your style that makes you be more fashion mastering trend pop. With it, you will feel comfortable, look trendy, and be the envy of everyone around you. I don't have permission to require you finding the ugg boots at goodugg.co.uk, but shout out if you find them!

Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

Plan awesome events & boost your career

How often should I update you?

Join over 60,000 subscribers that use EventMB to stay on top of How to's, Trends & Event Technology.