What's the best ticket price to encourage max. attendance?

Hi all.
As I’ve mentioned on other threads, we run free monthly business networking events (late mornings) in Birmingham, and we’ve now started branching out into doing other additional events at various times of day, late lunches, early evenings etc.
So far these additional events have been free, as food offerings have either been sponsored/supplied by the venue; and our last evening event was in a cocktail bar meaning people just bought their own drinks.

Our last one stumped us a bit as we’d had about 130 booked in via eventbrite, and only around 75 turned up on the evening. Still good numbers, but given we’d told the venue we were expecting far more, it was a little bit awkward that we’d had that level of dropout; since previous events where we’ve taken bookings, we’ve had nowhere near that level before.

So we are now starting to think about charging for some of our additional events, to encourage people to attend once they’ve booked their tickets, as they’ll be more invested in doing so.
We’re not looking to turn this into a money-making venture, especially not at this stage, so if we did charge it’d most likely be a case of possibly having to fund any food offerings, or most likely just use the funds and donate to a charity.
So that being said, what would your thoughts be on an appropriate amount to charge to encourage people to attend, if it were for raising funds for a charity? £5 a ticket? Something nominal that would encourage people to attend, but not too expensive as to make people potentially feel they’re not getting full value etc?

Would be interested to hear your thoughts.


Hi Richard, that’s a tricky one as life happens and things get in the way despite best intentions. Maybe charge a fiver but offer them a welcome drink as part of that so psychologically they’re already thinking about arriving at the events and you’ve planted that image in their mind. Also what time do the events start? I think it’s a delicate balance between giving people enough time to get to you after work but not so they have to hang around and if people go home first they’ll probably get comfortable and not come out. Is there a membership element to it or is it open to anyone? M

I think £5 is a pretty good price to test the water with. It’s not a big outgoing for most people, but significant enough that it raises the opportunity cost of not attending and makes the person invested somewhat in the event. Maybe put it towards free drinks and then use that as a way to attract people?

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+1 to that. £5 is a good approach to test. The issue with totally free tickets is that yes, of course there are some people who book and then genuinely can’t make it at the last minute. But when a ticket is free, many people will book while they’re still undecided if they will go at all. From their perspective, since there is no downside in booking because the tickets are free, why not book it? And they don’t realise the impact it has on the organiser.

Most of us are guilty of this at one point or another. An event looks interesting; we’re not sure if we’ll attend or not, but since it’s free we book a ticket just in case. We can always decide later to go or not. We may have the good intentions of telling the organiser if we can’t make it, but often life will get in the way and that doesn’t happen.

As well as charging a nominal amount (which is then given back via refreshments etc), another effective approach is to run a waiting list. Then near the event, you tell confirmed attendees “we’re really looking forward to seeing you and hope you can make it. If for any reason you can’t now attend, please do let us know as there’s a waiting list of 50 people who would love to use your place.”

Most people are pretty reasonable, and when they realise that their not attending is preventing someone else from using that place, will tell you. You’ll still of course get no shows, but that will at least weed out many of the people who were never actually committed to attend in the first place.

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Good ideas folks, thank you for those.
Yes we do run a waiting list normally as there’s usually lots of interest, and we do chase as many people up as we can via mailshots checking they’re coming - I just wish there was a magic bullet that guaranteed attendance!

@MelissaJane - usually our events are opened up first to our member base via mailshot and Twitter, and of course they’re find-able via the eventbrite directory, so usually around 20-25% of bookings are via directory find.

I think the £5 a ticket idea is well worth a trial, see what the uptake is, and see how it fares on the event day. Would be interesting to compare against £0 price bookings.

We always try and get the venue to offer some sort of perk so we can use that as an added incentive, absolutely @nick_lawson - always good for a bit of added value.

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@Voicey I was going to also suggest the £5 with a free drink included. We used to do gigs for free then we did free but register for a ticket and still had many let downs due to what you said about people booking whether they are going or not.

With our festival we said it was free for all kids under 14 as long as they were with a paying adult but because we hadn’t asked people to register how many kids were coming, we couldn’t play for some kids activities the first year. We now charge a nominal £1 for a child ticket. After fees pretty much all of that is swallowed up but it means we have a better understanding of how many kids will be attending and importantly now we are using Eventbrite, we can ask what age the kids will be come the festival date. Then we can lay on some activities for the right age groups!


Yeah it’s certainly something worth doing - it focuses the mind I reckon and makes people bung it in their diaries. Even for a few quid, I’d hope people would be more likely to attend.

Hi Richard

Sadly no-shows can ruin an event and it’s disrespectful. Breakfasts often better as people get to you on the way to work before other distractions of work / life.

As you say, if you don’t charge, there’s no perceived value and you can easily get 50% plus no-shows.

I’ve run “business networking events” (breakfast, early evening (6.00-6.30 to 8.30-9.00pm) since the mid-1990s in London. I’ve always charged. A lot of time and effort is involved and if you start off by charging it’s not a surprise when you want to charge later on. These days in London many business networking events are around the £30 - £50 (inc vat). You can always give a heavily discounted “earlybird booking fee”.

I started promoting tickets last week for a sponsored wine event taking place in late September and went out with an earlybird price of £25+vat. Over 100 tickets paid for in one week. Prices went up on 1 August (some already sold at the full price) and I’ve only got 20 tickets left to sell.

I like the idea already mentioned of a wait list.

Also sending reminders (email or text) and giving the option to say “sorry” earlier on.

You could give regular attendees a discount (separate database, discount code).

To me £5 doesn’t sound enough. It’s not even the cost of one glass of wine! Sell the features and benefits of attending. I’m curious when you say “not too expensive as to make people potentially feel they’re not getting full value etc”. You need to tell them the value and make sure you deliver on that promise.

You know the saying, “If there isn’t an intake of breath when you mention your fee, you’re not charging enough!” You don’t have to go that far, but people pay more for something they “want” to be part of - that’s what brands do. People pay more for exactly the same product to buy from a particular brand. Make your events the ones businesses want to attend because you’re giving “value” (name badges, Guest List, Keynote Speaker, facilitating introductions, 2 glasses of wine and nibbles). Spell it out!!!

Hope this helps.


Some great tips in there - thanks for sharing! M

Really good thoughts, many thanks @womeninthecity - definitely food for thought there!

I’d mentioned the ‘not too expensive…’ bit mainly because so far, all our events have been free/subsidised by the venue etc. As Brummies Networking, we were borne out of there being a lack of quality free networking groups in the Midlands, so we wanted to be the default event people would go to monthly, hence why we get some really good numbers every month. (Plus we have a really great accommodating venue who allow us to do this, so we’ve not had to pay room hire etc which is a massive bonus).

But yeah, now we’re branching into doing other events at different times of the day, there will be a time when we’ll need to charge ticket prices. As mentioned on other posts, we’re not doing this as a money making venture at this stage, we do it in our spare time essentially as an excuse to get maximum amount of local business people in the same room at the same time; but there will come a time I’m sure when we’ll need some sort of recompense for the time we put into running these things!
But we’d need to phase it in slowly/carefully so as to not put people off, purely because our main monthly event is always free…

But really appreciate your thoughts, certainly something I’ll be noting down and taking to the rest of the team.

@Voicey have you thought about an annual membership? You could charge a set fee (say £50 +VAT) for a yearly membership and that gets people 50% off events, early bird tickets, and some other benefits.

Maybe put some details up of success stories from your meet ups, list some of the brands/companies that regularly attend? Like what @womeninthecity said, sell the benefits of your event to people. Even in old fashioned bullet points. Sell it to yourself. Think whether you would pay X amount per year to be a member.

Also, maybe try direct debit subs. They pay X amount per month whether they attend or not. That could give people incentive. If I am paying anyway I might as well go.

Pick a member of the month and highlight their business. After all, people are going to the event to network and therefore promote their business as well as find new business contacts.

I have never been to a business network meeting myself. I am very keen to come to the Brummie Network one but probably not until October although a colleague of one of my businesses is hopefully popping along next week as they work local to the venue. As someone new to the meetings like this, I would feel a bit lost, out of place and maybe a touch nervous as I wouldn’t know anyone. I love the idea of the name badges or even someone who can take me round the group introducing me to people that could be of significance for my business.

I run a radio station, music festival, website design company, a social app and I am part of a company that runs 14 festivals a year so I have a depth of business knowledge across different aspects but contacts are something I can never have too many of! I would definitely pay a decent ticket price for a network event if I could get value from it.

Great thoughts, thanks @Jay

We wouldn’t really want to go down the yearly membership price to be honest, as we used to be affiliated to another national networking organisation who used to be free, then suddenly went to an annual paid subscription, so when we broke away from them and went alone as BN, we pledged that we wouldn’t ever do that.

However, it’s something we could possibly look at for our additional events we put on, (i.e. anything that isn’t our regular monthly meeting). Some of those will definitely be paid for events, depending on what we put on. Sometimes possibly a masterclass, guest speakers, there’s no limits really as to what we could offer to people on a paid basis.

And yes, we’re actually in the process of actively getting some ‘good news’ stories from our members as we’ve had several people tell us of great stuff that they’ve managed to gain from our meetings, clients gained etc etc. So yes we want to feature those on the website etc heavily.

We’ve also thought about offering paid bolt-ons to our offering, like advertising blocks in our mailshot and on the website in return for some sort of annual/monthly fee; we’re currently chatting about how that could work practically, so yeah that’s certainly an option for us as well. But yeah there’s also a lot we currently offer for free, including an online forum which we’re trying to get used more by members, as that in the future could be a killer feature.

Great to hear you’d like to come along at some point - more than welcome anytime. We’re a really friendly bunch and the meeting format is purely open networking, so there’s always someone to talk to. We also always actively introduce new people to others in the room so you wouldn’t be left on your own! And yes if your colleague can make it, please do let him know to look out for me and introduce himself and we’ll intro him to some useful people.

Exactly, as you say, you can’t have enough contacts!

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