Make the Most of Ticket Pricing Tiers

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When it comes to selling tickets, selling more of them at a low price point can mean working a lot harder (more participants to deal with), and setting the price too high can mean an empty event. The right price can motivate people to buy tickets earlier, inspire ticket buyers to rally their friends, and increase your revenue.

The science behind pricing is never an easy balance, but there are relatively simple solutions you can begin to make — like incorporating pricing tiers (link to tiered pricing section in seting up a race guide). Pricing tiers can work with your existing marketing efforts to boost your overall sales.

What is tiered pricing?

Tiered pricing is the use of price tiers (different price levels over time) to optimize registration revenue. By using information such as your maximum participant number, existing participant interest and the average price for a race like yours (registration market rate), you can set different price levels for your entries. 

Let’s say you have 500 places to fill in your Half Marathon, 6 months to do it in and you already have 150 keen prospects in your mailing list (for more on email marketing, see our guide on Email Marketing to Drive Event Registrations). In having a tiered pricing, the aim is to generate more revenue by having participants buy tickets at different prices, than if you just had one flat entry rate from selling all your tickets at the same price.

Here is an example of what your ticket price increases could like on your eventrac platform. We have an ‘Early Bird’ at £43 valid for 1 month, a Standard Release at £45 valid for 6 months, and a Last release at £47 valid until your tickets closing day. You can ofcourse have increases of different amounts, to start at different times. 

Finding your price sweet spot

If this is the first time you run an event, finding your core price will come down to research. Things to look at to compare your event with others, are: Type of race, distance, location and amenities. For example, similar running events in South West England can vary in price depending on road closures, if it’s in a large city near a major train station vs out of town in a rural location, or the popularity of the race which might dictate higher sponsorship and therefore more race ‘goodies’. 

Ideally your price should be a nice middle number that allows your attendees to feel like they’re getting a good deal, but can be discounted for any early promotional offers without compromising on your bottom line.

If this is a multi-year event, look back and see how much you sold your tickets for in the past. If you’ve made any substantial changes, (upgrades to the venue, higher profile speakers, etc.) or if you’re in a position to do a price increase, do so! Don’t just stay the same price year after year — especially if you’re making substantial improvements!

Introducing pricing tiers 

Once you’ve found your price sweet spot which is how the majority of runners should expect to pay for your race, how can we hope to extract more than that with tiered pricing?

The answer lies in realising that not all of your participants are willing to pay the same price for your race. Some participants would want to look for a bargain and pay less, whilst some would be happy to pay more, either because they absolutely love your race or because they don’t want to commit early (a growing trend, which is why gaining eraly interest in your event is crucial).

The aim of a tiered pricing strategy is to get enough participants registering for more than the benchmark sweet spot price to raise overall revenue above the level a flat pricing strategy would achieve (i.e. selling all your tickets at the same price)

If you’ve run your event for multiple years, building a pricing tier into your existing sales strategy is as simple as asking yourself, at which juncture did past attendees buy their tickets in previous years?

By looking at any previous patterns, you can see if there was a lull right in the middle of your ticket sale promotions and/or if you have a week that does especially well every year. It could be a good idea to introduce a promotion to increase sales during those times.

Your Early Bird Pricing

Your early-bird period is the earliest, and often longest, stage in your registrations process. This is where you offer incentives so people will register early at a reduced price.

Early-bird offers help create a sense of urgency in participants looking for a bargain and should help close a large portion of your registrations. There are several reasons for this: 

  • You can gauge interest early and make adjustments to your marketing if necessary
  • You receive money early, so you can start covering purchases without borrowing from yourself or others (assuming your registration provider deposits money into your account on a regular basis and does not hold money until after the event.  Eventrac can be configured to pay every day, week or month.)
  • You can plan better, as you get better insights into your resource requirements early
  • Depending on the type of event you run, you should aim to sell between 30%-60% of your tickets during your early bird period.

A successful early-bird strategy opens with a significant discount early on and gradually increases price every couple of months or so towards the standard (late-bird) full price. 

Two more tips will help you make the most of your early bird pricing:

  • Always limit early-bird places. That way if you end up setting your early-bird discount too high (i.e. early-bird price too low) there is a cap to the damage you can cause to your revenue.  Eventrac allows organisers to limit pricing tiers by either a capacity sold or a date
  • The stronger the interest for the race the fewer early bird places you should make available. Don’t sell your race out cheap. If there’s interest willing to pay higher prices, clinch the bare minimum in your early bird and carry the rest into the higher pricing tiers.

Catching the Late Birds 

The late-bird price is there for two reasons:

  • To make your early-bird price look good. This is what you can base a reasonable early price on. So a higher price here means a better discount for early registrations. If you want to run last-minute targeted sign up offers towards the end of your registration, having this higher also helps.
  • Compensate you for receiving money later. By the time your standard price kicks in you would have spent handsomely on your event and taken on more commitments. So if you’re giving people the option to wait until this late whilst you take on all the risk of uncertain registration numbers, they have to compensate you for it.

Shifting more tickets with selective discounts

Once your early bird tickets have gone, and you have entered your late bird phase, you can still entice people with discount codes if you manage it correctly. You should be aiming to convert people with 2 different tactics: 

  • Converting people at full price. For example, people that have shown strong interest in the race and have not yet registered, subscribers to your mailing list etc. These sales will secure premium revenue at your late bird price.
  • Offering targeted discounts to select groups. There are still people, even at this late stage, looking for a bargain who might not be converted otherwise. These sales will help you move the remainder of your tickets. You should be careful not to let these discount codes be seen by all parties, especially those who have already bought at full price. 

A good amount to discount by, is to go as low as your early bird price. To make the most of discounts, you can offer some of the following tactics rather than just outright discounts: 

  • Buy 1 get 1 Half Price (or similar) deals. This is an effective 25% discount per entry, gets you two places sold instead of one and sounds great to people looking to race with a buddy.
  • Sending unique 10-20% discount codes with short expiry dates to existing registrants, to encourage them to bring a friend or a club. Similar to the above but aimed at people who have registered already.
  • Create competitions on your social media pages with 1-2 free tickets up for grabs. This is a great way to generate interest and generate shares and social currency (more likes, comments, shares creating engagement all round!). This interest should hopefully translate to some full-price sales. 


If tiered ticket strategies are managed correctly, which is easily done with Eventracs automatic price increase features, it can increase your revenue and keep potential participants tuned in to your updates. With the additional revenue, you could also spend more on marketing and the event experience, creating a premium brand that is less price-sensitive and more loyal because of the quality you deliver.

Going forward, year on year its likely your costs will increase as permit prices and expenses go up with a bigger event. Increasing ticket prices overall can help, with more tiers to make the increase amounts easier to swallow. So although nobody loves a price increase, but you’d be surprised how often people will accept them, particularly if done in reasonable amounts. So try and test a pricing tier strategy until you find the right one for you, and watch the ticket sales start streaming in.


On Hand To Help

The team at Eventrac are on hand to assist with all components of your event. From advice on promoting your event through low cost channels such as social media, to a guided tutorial on a specific feature of Eventrac. We are here to help.

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