This Trend in Pricing May Change the Way You Think About Events

There’s a new trend in event pricing. Well, not so new, but it’s picking up supporters and increasing event revenue. It may just change the way you look at pricing tickets.

If you fly with any of the bargain airlines in the U.S. like Southwest, Frontier, United’s economy class, or Spirit, you likely had a decision to make when booking your flight. Pay extra for an assigned seat or pre-boarding or take your chances with seat selection. When they first began charging for pre-boarding, I thought they were crazy. I assumed people would understand that if no one purchased that option, they’d have to go back to making seat selection free.

While I still believe I was right about the charges, most travelers did not agree with my solidarity and begrudgingly opened up their wallets in order to get seated first or have a say in their seats. Thus, charging for assigned seats was born. Travelers gave up what they used to get for free in order to be first.

This trend has entered the event industry as well and we can blame concerts. Do you remember when meeting a keynote was a happy coincidence? Now you can pay for the opportunity and people are doing so en masse. This article highlights how a few events are using these special moments and offering tickets closer to the stage to increase event revenue.

This Trend in Pricing May Change the Way You Think About Events

Taking a Tip from Concert Ticket Packages

This trend is one that’s been used in concerts for a while now. You want a good seat, you pay a premium for it. You want to meet the band? That’ll cost you.

Imagine Dragons’ Evolve World Tour, for instance, offers three levels of special VIP packages. In its “Whatever it Takes” Meet and Greet Experience, for just under $500 (based on New York City pricing, pricing may vary by venue), the concert attendee receives:

  • A premium, reserved seat in the first (5) rows -OR- one (1) general admission pit ticket with early entry to see Imagine Dragons live
  • Opportunity to meet the band before the show and take a picture
  • Invitation to the official Imagine Dragons ‘Evolve’ Pre-Party featuring interactive games and pre-show tournaments with winners taking home exclusive Imagine Dragons merchandise gifts; a snack and candy bar; cash bar plus two drink tickets (local liquor laws apply); interactive photo opportunities with iconic pieces of the band’s show sets and memorabilia
  • An exclusive autographed lithograph of the band
  • An exclusive Imagine Dragons portable phone charger
  • A commemorative laminate and lanyard
  • Crowd-free merchandise shopping
  • On-site concert host

Many speaker-focused events are taking their pricing cues from concerts by pricing seats closer to the stage at a premium and offering ‘experiences’ that command top dollar. Here are a few examples:


Synergy Global Forum

Synergy Global Forum boasts a long list of famous speakers who focus on revolutionizing the thinking of entrepreneurs and managers. The event attracts about 5,600 people from around the globe. This year’s attendees will see Sir Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Steve Forbes, among other notables.

This event requires potential attendees or those interested in receiving the full program details to provide their email address first. This means that everyone showing interest in their program will become part of their mailing list, a smart marketing tactic and an easy way to stay in touch with those who showed interest.

Ongoing marketing is the key to converting those who are potentially interested into ticket holders. This email sign-up makes that easy, plus it gives you a contact even if they’re not able to make it to this event.

The Synergy Global Forum also offers some VIP packages similar to what concerts do including photo ops, exclusive meet and greets, lunch with Steve Forbes, and concierge services.

Power of Success: Tony Robbins

In this event, inspirational speaker Tony Robbins hosts a day-long seminar exploring in-demand business skills such as training in sales and marketing, negotiating, motivation, money management, personal development, and more. His programs address how you can use influence in your life as well as other leadership psychology tools.

The event marketing plugs the personal and professional development as well as the valuable networking that occurs at the event. Many people see him as a business guru (complete with ‘fire walk’) and his ticket prices reflect those rock star packages.

His package prices are largely based on location of seat, much the way a concert would price. But the VIP groupings offer more than just a good seat. The VIP ticket ensures the attendee will have a seat in rows 5-15, be able to enter through a VIP entrance, and have lunch with the speakers (not Robbins) for $895. The Platinum Package, priced at $1795, guarantees a seat in rows 1-4, gives the attendee access to the Express entrance, a ticket to the luncheon, a copy of Mr. Robbins’ book “Unshakeable,” and a photo with Robbins.

Comic-Con: Palm Springs

Most of the Comic-Con events offer some sort of VIP package and Palm Springs is no different. A standard ticket runs $60 while their VIP Membership Package costs $125 for 2017. With the VIP package, they offer early access to the VIP Entrance. Guests receive a ‘Preview & Exclusive Night’; VIP Line Access into all free panels, performances, and events; a collectible print; 10% discount on merchandise; and entrance into the Saturday night after-party event. The VIP 3-Day Pass includes access to a Lynda Carter concert with premium seating; a souvenir badge and lanyard; all the same perks of a VIP Membership ticket; plus a commemorative t-shirt.

What was once something only concert promoters and planners did – charging for premium seats – has now become a popular trend among events everywhere. Event planners are capitalizing on selling the experience. Premium access and seating are ways to do this.

This trend is likely to grow. According to a study by Harris Group, 72 percent of the younger generation prefers to spend more money on experiences than on material things.

In Conclusion

Experiences make an impression that people are willing to pay a premium for. We’ve seen this supported in concerts and other celebrity meet and greets. Is it time for you to explore this upper-level VIP pricing in your event? The first step is to ensure you have an experience people are willing to pay extra for. Next, try it out. If potential attendees bite, great. If they don’t, at least make sure you have their email addresses.

Additional Reading on Event Revenue Ideas

Pay Per View VR: A New Revenue Stream for Events
6 Ways Event Planners Can Attract More Revenue to Their Trade Show
17 Ways to Deliver VIP Experiences [Webinar]
Event Planners: the Leaders of the Experience Economy [Video]
10 Conferences that Excel at Offering Exclusive VIP Experiences


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Julius Solaris
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