Imagine the following situation:

The event draws closer. Ticket sales are not as you hoped. The marketing push did not pay off as expected, so you are reluctant to do more. The cost of the event is fixed, so any revenue is good revenue, right?

Well, yes – from a short-term perspective. But as any hardened veteran of the business will tell you, the biggest threat to the industry is teaching ticket buyers to wait for better prices!

Therefore, let us be clear: Lowering the listed price is not “the easy way out” for several reasons… Those who already bought tickets will be frustrated, people will regard the event as being of low quality, and you will be frowned upon by the business.

But, fear not. There ARE still ways of selling discounted tickets. Some initiatives might even serve as marketing, but they will require a bit more effort than changing the price on the website.

Most importantly, the question you need to be able to answer is: WHY the discount? If you cannot answer the full-price buyer WHY someone else get to pay less, you probably have to deal with a bunch of frustrated customers causing severe damage to your brand.

So here are 7 examples of ways to sell tickets with the WHY well-explained:

1: Make ticket buyers work for it – part I
For many years, the Royal National Theatre in Copenhagen (Denmark) had a small box office in the central part of the city. At 5:00 pm, customers could stand in line outside to get tickets at half price for the plays that evening – but with no guarantee of getting a ticket. WHY they deserved a discount was evident, and customers having bought tickets online from the comfort of their couch had no issue with a few students or theatre lovers slipping in at half price. Furthermore, the theatre could adjust the availability day-to-day.

2: Make ticket buyers work for it – part II
Some offers can be extended to customers who are willing to attend dressed up, post something on social media etc. in order to prove their dedication. Those paying full price will even enjoy the fanatics showing up in a red dress, a hat or something else key to the performance.

3: Lessen the product
If possible, lessen the offered product. Give discounted ticket buyers a specific entrance, late or early required entry, no programme, etc. in order to justify the full price by all the benefits.

4: Make it conditional on affiliation
If you make the discount available to members, newsletter subscribers, members of partner organizations or similar, the WHY is clear. Sales to employees of local companies is a classic (but might still signal low product value). BUT, if you send it out to your newsletter subscribers, remember you are likely to target customers who have already bought tickets.

5: Make it conditional on previous purchases
Make offers to top loyal customers, those who attended events same time last year, or even customers who have already bought tickets for the event (!). The latter is highly underrated, and they may turn out to be your best event ambassadors moving sales to the next level. However, do not pursue this strategy for very low-selling events.

6: Set up a competition
Participate to win a 50% discount! No one knows how many tickets you sell through competitions (again, do not go nuts, as it will be evident).

7: Do special, time-limited promotions (think Black Friday)
Do like they do in Bristol, and set up events that offer time-limited discounts. Be aware, that this initiative is best combined with on-site sales, only.

These 7 suggestions are best utilized in a thought-through pricing strategy planned in case of lower-than-expected sales. Remember: hitting the panic button and just lowering prices will most likely backfire – there are countless examples of this.