In an ideal world selling tickets is a very simple process. Decide a price, put the tickets on sale, and watch as hundreds of people buy them.
Sure, that happens some (some) times, but more often than not, there's a lot more careful consideration that goes into making that process seamless and successful.
Today, I'm going to share some of the different options you have when it comes to discounting, promoting, and ultimately selling tickets. I'll show you how to set them up in Tito, too. 🎫
The types of tickets we'll talk about here all come recommended from Tito customers as some of their best-sellers and most effective tactics they've used when building their audiences. (More on that later.)
There are four main ticket types we'll talk about that came up time and again in some conversations we recently had with our customers:
Given the popularity of these tactics, we thought it'd be helpful to go through why they work, and how to set them up for yourself. So, without any further ado, let's get into it.
The idea of getting a deal on something and it being known as an "early bird" comes from the well-known phrase "the early bird catches the worm." Though first recorded in a book of proverbs from the 1670s, the concept is anything but outdated.
Nowadays you can find early bird discounts for anything from dinners to the opera, to the conference tickets we'll be talking about. In fact, people search for early bird options now more often than ever:
Image Description: A Google Trends trend graph showing search interest in the term "early bird" from 2004 to present, showing the highest level of search is within the last month.
Though the tactic's popularity does dominate in certain geographies over others when it comes to tickets:
Image Description: A Google Trends map of interest by region for the term "early bird ticket" from 2004 to present. The top five countries where the most searches come from, in order, are the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, and Italy.
What're some of the benefits of using early bird sales?
Well, let's start with some psychology, now that we've covered history. In a previous conversation with behavioural scientists, we learned about three core psychological concepts that help explain why early birds are so popular. Namely:
- Anchoring, and
Scarcity is relevant in this context for two reasons. One, no conference would ever sell all of its tickets on an early bird rate. They'd run the risk of financial ruination if they did. Two, early bird offers only run for a short period of time by definition, meaning they'll run out after a certain date.
Anchoring is relevant because the "anchor" in this instance is the regular bird/higher price the potential attendee will have to pay if they don't jump on the early bird offer at hand. Say, for example, a standard ticket to a conference costs €150. We, as people considering buying a ticket, are "anchored" to that amount as what we would end up paying, and so the lower price seems like a steal by comparison.
And, finally, commitment seems pretty self-explanatory. When someone buys an early bird ticket, there's usually a good stretch of time between their purchase and the event they're signed up to, meaning they've made the commitment to attend on that date. Otherwise, the money they spent on it goes to waste. They're tied to attending, in other words.
How do you price early bird tickets?
One approach we've heard from our customers is charging a price that's proportional to the cost of having someone attend:
"For all of our events we do a Super Early Bird tier. We've worked out how much an event costs at an absolute minimum to have that person's bum on the seat. And our Super Early Bird price is that plus or minus 50 euro/dollars/pounds, etc to account for currency fluctuations."
- Heather Reid from Ministry of Testing.
Here's how to set up an Early Bird ticket in Tito:
- Navigate to Tickets -> Add a New Ticket.
- At this stage, the only thing that's required is the Ticket Name,
- But you can also add a Description,
- When you want to go live (Go live at),
- And when you want ticket sales to end (End at). In the example above, I've chosen to close sales on this ticket after one month.
- You can also select how many of these tickets you want to have available in the Quantity available box. In the example above, I've limited it to 50.
- Then you can add your Price.
- You can then Save your ticket.
However, just to show you what other options are available when setting up this type of ticket, I also changed the Required Fields and Order Limits. In this example, I've limited this ticket type to two per order, but you can choose whatever limit you want, if at all.
All that's left after that is to sit back and watch the orders pour in.
Well, maybe not quite.
I'm sorry to be the one to say that an Early Bird sale doesn't always work out the way you wanted. So let's look at some additional options you can incorporate into your ticket sales routine.
Discounting is a tricky business. You want to make the price appealing, but you don't want to undervalue yourself, your work, or put out the people who have bought full-price tickets.
"It’s kind of hard as you don’t want to come over as being too cheap, but I noticed it really helped me sell tickets. I gave a discount of 20% or so. Every audience is different and everybody does it in their own way."
- Charis Rooda, WebConf.Asia
That said, there's an upside. Discounted tickets give people who might not be able to afford the standard price an opportunity to join you at your event. As well as providing access, you can of course send discount codes to a select segment of people to reward them.
Whether you choose to do that for previous attendees, members of a group that's interested in your topics, or simply a group of people who have supported your vision, it's both a nice gesture and a way to help build momentum in your ticket sales.
One customer shared that this can work as a promotional tactic for you too:
"We find meetups that have the same attendee that we’re looking for and we’ll offer them a discount or group rate, or advertise through those meetups."
- Sunny Leggett, ZeroSlopeEvents
Of course, whatever discount you decide to apply to your ticket promotions, you'll want to track how many have been used. And, like the early bird situation we talked about above, you'll want to cut off the discount option after a certain point.
There's a few reasons for this. One, you don't want to bankrupt yourself by selling every ticket below a price that would allow you to make a profit or break even.
Two, people missing discounts can encourage them to buy full price tickets, due to a fear of missing out. According to researchers at Leiden and Tilburg Universities, discounts are still a very attractive way to encourage new customer sales and returning sales.
However, this approach can also have the opposite effect if organisers aren't careful. The aforementioned researchers argue that too high a discount can cause something called "inaction inertia".
Plainly speaking, inaction inertia happens when people don't buy something at full price after they've missed a discount window because the new, standard price is so much higher than the discounted price; it doesn't seem worth it any more. So, there are potential risks and gains, but if you'll willing to step up the table of discounts...
In Tito, it's quick and easy to set up your first discount code:
In your Tito account, navigate to Discount Codes.
- Click Add a New Discount Code.
- In the Code field, enter the code you've chosen. This is a required field.
- To help you remember what or who this code is for, you can add a Description that is only visible to you as the organiser.
- After that, you can choose whether you want to offer a Percentage Discount or Flat (Currency) Discount.
- Enter the amount in the Amount off field.
- In the example I've shared, this appears as euro because that's my local currency, but you can change this in the Customize menu under Money.
- From there, you can choose how long this discount is available for by entering the dates into the Start date or end date fields.
- You can also limit the number of tickets that can be bought overall with this code applied. Simply enter that number into the Ticket quantity available field.
- To further limit the use of this code, you can select the fewest or most tickets in an order that can use this code by putting those limits into the Minimum tickets and Maximum tickets fields respectively.
- You can then use the checkboxes provided to decide whether this discount applies to all the tickets that are currently on sale for your event, just one ticket, or a variety of tickets.
- You can leave it at that, hit save, and wait for the sales to roll in!
There're few feelings better than when you sell your first ticket, but the feeling of selling three at a time comes pretty close.
Group bookings are, as with all the options on this list, a great way to build momentum when it comes to your sales strategy. This option will often be a great fit for your audience because an event that's suitable for one member of a team will also usually be suitable for multiple members of that team.
To set up a group discount in Tito, just follow these steps:
For the purposes of this example, I want to set up a discount code that gives 10% off to people buying three or more tickets in a single transaction.
- As we did for the general discount, pop over to Discount Codes -> Add a New Discount Code.
- Repeat the steps where you input your Code name.
- Enter the Amount off (in my case, 10%).
- Save a Description for yourself.
- Set any Start and End dates.
- Set the total Ticket quantity available.
- Now, this time, we want to set the Minimum tickets to 3, or the minimum number of tickets you want to sell to entitle the person making the purchase to the discount.
- I didn't set a Maximium, but you can, or you can just set the Ticket quantity available to cut off too many of these types of tickets selling.
- I've also set up a Secret Ticket for this discount so that only people who have the discount code will see the ticket it applies to. If you choose to do this, please also select Reveal Secret Tickets.
- Finally, same as always, save it and you're good to go!
Of course, sometimes there are certain people you really want at your event, and you want a way to share something unique with them.
What better way to do that than with a unique discount code?
Charis has put this into practice and had this to say about it:
"It makes them feel special and it doesn’t cost any money. It’s also just a nice thing to do."
- Charis Rooda, WebConf.Asia
This is something you can use to, as Charis says, make people feel a little special, but it's also a measure you can use to make sure only the people who you want to use the discount are the ones who use it. Whereas the general discount code above is a reusable code to a point, in this case there's a unique code that can only be used once.
You can use these kinds of discounts to send to special guests and people you want to send larger or smaller discounts to, rather than having tonnes of general discount codes.
To set up individual discount codes in Tito:
- Navigate to Discount Codes once again.
- Click Import from CSV.
- Download our CSV template. Columns with asterisks are required.
- Add the Code you want for each person and you'll get something like this:
- Fill in the rests of the fields in the CSV based on your preferences. I recommend setting the Min and Max Tickets to 1 if you're using the discounts as described in this example.
- Upload your CSV (you can also use an XLSX).
- Click the green Import button.
- Your discounts are now ready to use!
Hopefully we've now all gotten to a place where we can de-stress a little, and sell a lot. If you have any questions about this, you can of course always find us at email@example.com.
The quotes provided in this post are part of a fun new marketing and sales project we're currently working away on in the background. To get details about that, and more on what we'll be publishing in the future, you can request updates here: