Offering Discounts - BAD IDEA?

Hi Guys,

I’m in a bit of a dilemma here and was looking for suggestions. I have a conference coming up in September and we are currently in the midst of getting in registrations (paid). Things are moving really slow this year possibly because of a slow down in the IT industry … alot of our potential delegates are from IT and usually get sponsored to attend by their respective orgs.

Some members of the organizing committee are strongly of the opinion that we offer limited period discounts for the weekend OR upcoming holidays. However I don’t believe discounts of such nature will do us good, for reasons below:

  1. Why devalue our event!
  2. What justification will you give people who have registered earlier on at full price?
  3. Wont registrations go back to a sluggish pace once the discount period of 1 or 2 days is over?
  4. Our planned income will be affected and result in possible out-of-pocket spends

We have been battling this internally for the past 2 days but have not made any decision yet. Any suggestions to an alternative way rather than giving discount to promote registrations?
I thought of one way - giving amazon coupons to people who register on an X day. that way we can always answer to the previously registered folks that this offer is by amazon or XYZ company and not by us. In worst case we can send them the gift coupon as well without getting into much debates or refunds.

but this idea got shot down…so i’m stuck again…looking for suggestions desperately folks!

Few thoughts:

  1. Early bird tickets for business conferences seem very standard to me. I’ve always done them for all of our events.

  2. Totally agree that it’s awkward if people have purchased full price tickets. I guess you could either hope they don’t notice or offer them some additional value as part of their full price ticket (although I’d still be miffed if I’d paid full price and others were getting 25% off)

  3. Yes probably.

Other ideas include discounts for colleagues when buying more than one ticket to encourage people not only to register but to bring a friend (but has a financial knock on) or some sort of incentive prize as you suggest.

Another idea is to get partners, sponsors, speakers involved in a massive campaign to sell tickets, maybe offering their connections a discount (less awkward) or giving them a kick back for every ticket sold.

I’ve been there myself with sluggish ticket sales. Good luck

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How about organisation-specific discounts, so you can target likely individuals without others getting miffed? i.e. for Microsoft resellers. You can make it appear even more exclusive by offering a restricted number of tickets.

Or rather than discount, perhaps just invest a bit more in marketing and run a Facebook ad campaign, including retargeting those who have expressed interest but not converted.

You could also incentivise purchase by offering some kind of free download - maybe you have a speaker who has written an ebook you could partner with or something?

Finally, consider setting up an affiliate/referral programme and let other people do the selling for you. Good luck!


Give discounts to your loyal customers and regular engagers on social media. It makes them feel valued and it will create more loyalty from the people that missed out.


You could also offer delegates who’ve already booked a discount off their next conference booking when their colleagues/contacts book or for X number of shares. If you issued a bespoke link to each you could track it & discount that future conference booking X amount for every 5 bookings perhaps. Otherwise I’d be selling at a discounted rate to discreet organisations you can work with so you can offer them a member rate or local employers in the field. Or add value rather than discount with lunch included, the chance to win a 1:1 mentoring session with a speaker, or something else fairly exclusive- ideally something newsworthy so you can PR it & inspire people to share on social media. August is such a tough month! Good luck!

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