Event Fee: To Charge or Not To Charge
This is the dilemma of every event organizer. Organizers want a high turnout at their events but is free event the answer to this problem?
Apparently not, according to Doorkeeper (http://www.doorkeeperhq.com/event-planning/increasing-participants-decreasing-no-shows) and they based this data on more than 10,000 events that they have organized. A lot of organizers have the misconception that to get more crowd, an event should be free. This is not always true because attendees of paid events usually expect to get value when attending the event, thus they are more motivated to actually show up.
There is also the perception from registrants that paid events have more quality compared to free events. This assumption is not far from the truth if we look at it from the organizer’s point of view too. For example, good speakers usually charges more than mediocre ones. So organizers have to fork out more to get good speakers with interesting titles. Besides that, smart organizers who are looking at a long term business will make sure that attendees get what they paid for. If attendees feel like they are getting their money’s worth, you can be sure that they will not hesitate to show up at your future events. If it’s the opposite, the dwindling number of turnout at your events will be one of the indication.
Another interesting data shared by Doorkeeper is that prepaid events, although having lower registration rate, have the highest actual attendance rate compared to free or pay at the door events. You can use event management system such as Evenesis (www.evenesis.com) to create your own event microsite, tickets and also event registration form so participants can register and pay in advance so as to increase turnout at your events. Evenesis also provides a reporting module so you can easily track how many people have registered, paid or physically attended your events.
Our final advice would be to know your audience and your target market. There’s no denying that there are successful free events especially if you are providing business-to-consumer services or products. The best way to decide whether to charge for an event or not is to test both free and paid events and see how the turnout is.