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How to reinvent the early-bird ticket

Luis Sousa, marketing director for Festicket and Event Genius, believes the challenges of Covid have created opportunities to reimagine ticketing campaigns

17 Aug 2021

Luis Sousa, Festicket/Event Genius

The idea of the early-bird ticket is simple. Fans who book at the very start of a campaign, well in advance of an event, are rewarded with a cheaper ticket than those who purchase further down the line. It’s a tried-and-tested formula that customers have come to expect, and it’s no huge surprise that it is often enough to encourage a significant portion to book early. But could there be a better way to approach the idea, one that works better for events and fans alike?

Customers are always on the lookout for a good deal, but as a research study conducted by professor of neuroeconomics Dr. Paul J. Zak demonstrated, they are not only attracted to discounts on a purely rational level, but also on a chemical and emotional one. In the study, participants given a $10 coupon while grocery shopping were shown to have higher levels of Oxytocin – a 38% increase – as well as dramatically reduced stress indicators compared to those who received no coupon.

There are definite parallels to be drawn between this study and customer behaviour when purchasing tickets. At first glance, simply deciding on a price for the general admission ticket and then working backwards to create a cheaper early bird works, but there are better ways to approach the concept, and the benefits that a more holistic, strategic approach can offer to both promoters and fans should not be underestimated.

Value to fan vs cost to promoter
There are more creative, innovative and ultimately more cost-efficient ways to offer the same benefit and value to customers than the aforementioned tried-and-tested approach.

Add cashless food and drink credit to early-bird tickets rather than lowering the ticket price alone

One obvious example would be to add cashless food and drink credit to early-bird tickets rather than lowering the ticket price alone. Using a cashless/contactless system like Event Genius’s egPay, this credit could be applied to an RFID wristband upon entry or redeemed at any event bar or vendor via a barcode on a mobile phone.

For example, £10 of cashless credit to spend on food and drink onsite offers the same value to customers as a £10 reduction on the ticket price. But crucially this would no longer cost the promoter £10 in real terms, resulting in increased revenue on each purchase without the customer losing out on any value. Everybody wins…

Similarly, other extras could be added to an early-bird ticket package. These could include discounts on: accommodation and travel; onsite facilities such as parking, lockers or charging stations; priority entrance – ideal for larger capacity events; tickets for ancillary events – pre-parties, after-parties, boat parties etc; and artist or festival merchandise.

Each of these could be used to offer value to the customer that is equal to, or in many cases greater than, a simple reduction in ticket price, while ultimately costing the organiser less in real terms.

Another way organisers can offer added value to customers is with the use of flexible payment plans

Another way organisers can offer added value to customers – without negatively impacting their own revenue – is with the use of flexible payment plans. The ability to pay in instalments has proven to be immensely popular across a number of different e-commerce platforms and industries, and the world of live events is no different.

Since introducing our own payment plan, we have regularly seen that over half of sales have come from payment plan orders – and in some cases upwards of 60%, as was the case for this year’s Promiseland Festival in Australia. And this has been the case for both shorter-term campaigns of 3-6 months as well as longer-term campaigns of 9-12+ months.

While the value offered to the customer is one of convenience and flexibility, rather than a discount, the ability to pay in regular instalments is proven to have increased sales. Festivals offering fans the option to purchase via a payment plan benefit from an increase of 34% in sales according to our data, and we’ve found that offering a payment plan also increases the average order value by 74% – with the uptake of higher value items like accommodation and travel increasing dramatically.

At Event Genius, our outlook is always end-to-end. Through the development of our 360-degree platform we have realised the true potential of a more holistic approach to ticketing campaigns and want to share the benefits with both fans and organisers alike!


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