FREE TICKETS - How many is too many?

Do you give free tickets away for your event via a competition, through a sponsor or as part of a social media tactic?

How many is too many? I see festivals (music) that put a sold out sign up then start giving away tickets in competitions. Is that due to a supply and demand market? As soon as my even has the sold out sign up (we’ve sold out 3 years running earlier each year) I am inundated with requests for tickets. Annoying as we put a lot of effort into giving people plenty of warning.

What’s your stance on giveaways for your event? Why do you do them? What do you gain from them?

I do a few giveaways while tickets are still available. I also say that even ticket holders can enter and if they win they get their money refunded so in effect they are still getting a free ticket. Only fair otherwise people will sit on the fence if they know a competition is pending (well that’s what I’d do!).

We tie our giveaways in with our sponsors, for example we just announced a drinks partner, a rum company. They gave us 2 bottles of rum and 2 t-shirts to give away as part of the brand awareness so we threw in 2 weekend tickets as well. That went down really well.

We shall give away 3-4 pairs of tickets to charity event organisers that we know so they can put them in their raffles. Then we do one final competition at Christmas for the full works… 4 weekend passes, a glamping tent, a signed goody bag from their favourite band of the weekend for each person in their group, meet the band, festival goody bag and drinks vouchers. We run that one for a month as its fairly big prize.

That’s how I do it anyway. I take full advantage of social media and our website, app and email newsletter to get the word out far and wide.

Interested to know other peoples thoughts.

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Great post! My short answer is “it depends!” It depends on the event, target audience, how long the event has been going, commercial deals in place, how ticket sales are going etc, etc. I’ve worked with some organisers who don’t do offers at all and don’t comp beyond a few for the team’s immediate family, sponsors and maybe exhibitors for example.

On other events, especially if they’re new I’ve seen good numbers of free tickets being distributed to guarantee an audience and help get off the ground. With one event I’m aware of there was a feeling by a key element of the target audience that they had already invested a great deal in that particular scene and expected to receive free tickets for an event that was for them and about them. In other instances, when I’ve been trying to get a lot of tickets in circulation, people have been loathed to take advantage and resisted taking more than a few when I really need them to get a hundred out to members!

Competitions are a good way of getting comps out there - and if you really need to get numbers out there you can offer them to the first ten people for example but make everyone who enters a winner!

Generally I would trade someone’s data for a free ticket so they have to part with their basic contact details in order to get. Also if I am working on an event with mainstream appeal and do have an allocation of comps I have certain groups I try to look after like the emergency services… always good to have them on site anyway even if they’re off duty!

So it depends!!

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