Getting people to buy tickets and actually attend the event on the day can keep organisers tossing and turning in their sleep for weeks beforehand. We decided to ask around and find out what trends our organisers are seeing when it comes to securing registrations and ticket sales for their events.
Don’t panic, last-minute sales happen
Slow sales can leave any event organiser feeling nervous, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Gemma Lechner-Hooley, who had an “epiphany” when she decided to create a series of pop-up art classes that change theme and location each month, co-runs Artful Social with best friend Lucy Fiona Morrison. She says that approximately half of registrations come through around 48 hours before each event, “which reflects our audience”.
If you find yourself in this position, it’s important not to panic – last-minute sales can be perfectly normal (even if they’re not good for your anxiety levels). Also, while it may be obvious, planning is important. Lechner-Hooley explains how they are planning ways to encourage earlier sales, “which will give us the security to plan bigger and more elaborate events in the future”.
If you still don’t fancy waiting on tenterhooks, why not think about the bigger picture; maybe you can change the format of your event. Melike Hussein, the founder of Breathzone, which offers conscious breathing classes and workshops in London, tells us that while short classes can be subject to late registrations, delays are less problematic for workshops as people tend to sign up further in advance.
Ready to consider new event formats? This list of 80+ event format ideas is a good place to start!
Consumer expectations are changing
In today’s busy world, you’re going to have to stand out from the crowd if you want consumers to spend their money with you.
Our annual Pulse Report found that reaching new attendees was expected to be event organisers’ biggest challenge this year. Filling seats was also raised as a major hurdle to overcome.
This is backed up by Lechner-Hooley: “According to reports, our target market is spending more on average when they go out than what they spent last year. We feel they’re also more selective on where and how they spend this, preferring to spend on ‘one-off’ events, which only a select number of people may have experienced.”
So what do you do? Monica Ruiz, founder of the Ingenium Movement and who is running a three-day course in London in October for those seeking to “access their Akashic records” (an alleged record of all events, actions and thoughts that have ever occurred or ever will), says suppliers should be able to provide innovative solutions.
“DJ”, who handles the ticketing for Drag Diva Fit, which describes itself as London’s first drag queen show plus exercise class, adds that event organisers might need to start looking at convenience: “We are in the convenience generation – that might mean ensuring the booking process is easy by joining apps/services that allow people to access our events easily.”
Consumers don’t just want convenience – they are looking for something different, and are willing to spend money on escapism and self-care. Katie Johnston, who runs regular watercolour workshops in London, argues that there is a growing niche for classes that offer serious creative instruction but also focus on relaxation and mindful creativity. “Mindfulness, meditation and the ability to combine those with creative skills is an area that’s boomed in the last five years. I am trying to navigate this in a way that doesn’t exploit or devalue the benefits of either area.”
Keep a watchful eye on competitors – old and new
They say that you should keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Okay, so that’s a little strong when it comes to events, but it doesn’t hurt to keep tabs on your competition – even your less traditional rivals.
Lechner-Hooley, of Artful Social in Birmingham, says that she and her co-founder Morrison are closely monitoring local and international events relating to the arts and entertainment industry, such as “drink and draw” and “sip and paint” events. “One of our main inspirations is Secret Cinema – we love the mystique,” she says.
“DJ”, of Drag Diva Fit, says that aside from monitoring drag-related trends, the organisers follow what people are happy to pay to attend fitness events. “A big part of Drag Diva Fit is about making the gym space a queer-friendly safe space where you can workout without judgement. That’s valuable – and how much people are willing to pay for that comes in relation not only to other fitness classes, but also other safe spaces.”
Hussein adds that, with the proliferation of events in the breathing space, she will be closely watching how platforms aggregate these events. “Are they going to make breathing a separate platform on its own, or [put it] next to yoga or part of wellbeing? How will they be visible and clustered?” she asks.
Test, test, test
While every event organiser wants a steady stream of tickets, things don’t always work out as you hope. So, to turn a famous saying on its head, “If it’s broke, do fix it.”
As “DJ” explains, the Drag Diva Fit Wednesday evening classes in Hackney weren’t getting enough traction, so they began testing different dates, times and locations. As they tell us, “In the end, whatever obstacle it is, it’s all about testing and measuring and figuring out what is and isn’t working.”
Be flexible, not everyone operates online
A bit like how some shops are still ‘cash-only’, some customers are more old-school too, preferring to pay on the door rather than book online in advance for events. And if you want to sell out your event, you’re going to have to accommodate them.
Ann-Marie Fields, the founder of TwerkFit UK, is just one event organiser who can attest to this challenge. The dance-meets-fitness class was held in Manchester for the first time in May, following similar events in cities including London and Edinburgh. Fields admits that simply getting people to register online was tough, even though the process was easy: “People seemed reluctant and preferred to pay on arrival.”
Even though online booking is the best way to track registrations efficiently, you’ll need to be prepared for those who prefer traditional methods and be able to strike the online/offline balance if you want to maximise ticket sales.
And, don’t forget, Eventbrite can help with door sales, too – check out this guide to our onsite tech solutions.