Building Benchmarks

How to Price Conference Passes in 2024

How to Price Conference Passes in 2024

Benchmark data, trends, and considerations.
Evolving technologies, shifting zeitgeists, economic headwinds, and value are all top of mind for event planners as they ponder how to price conference passes for their 2024 events.

With the recession loosening its grip, brands are seeking answers to ongoing revenue questions: How much is too much to charge for an event? What if that price isn’t enough to make a profit? Will attendees still come if the cost increases?

These concerns are valid when deciding how to price an event. That’s why our Intelligence Team analyzed more than 50 external-facing customer events (in-person, hybrid, and virtual) hosted in 29 cities around the world from 2019 to 2023 to track and analyze conference pricing trends. 

Here is the data we analyzed and the trends we discovered: 

Average Price Over Time

Between December 2022 and March 2023, the average U.S. inflation rate ranged from 6.04% to 6.45%. The U.S. inflation rate currently stands at *3.7%, a steep decline from previous years. Economists predict the year-end average to be 3.3%. In-person conference pricing trends are closely aligned with inflation rates from 2022 to 2023.

Most Popular Discounts  

Of the 50+ events sampled, Early Bird and Education rates were the most popular discounts offered in 2022, with Group and Member discounts coming in close behind. 

Discount Trends  

A Tiered-by-Persona pricing strategy emerges as the prevailing choice, utilized by 31.86% of events in our sample for 2022. This strategy's popularity is attributed to several key factors. It simplifies the task of monitoring attendance and provides a clear audience breakdown, making it easier to track who is attending. Secondly, it presents an opportunity for event organizers to showcase their brand values, aligning pricing tiers with specific personas or group memberships to create a more personalized and engaging experience for attendees. This approach also encourages participation among individuals who belong to a persona group, as they perceive added value in attending together.

Brand Prominence is Not a Price Factor

Fifteen of the 50+ events analyzed were hosted by companies listed as one of the Top 20 Global Brands (per Interbrand’s 2022 ranking). Those events' average in-person ticket price was $1,789 for 2022 — 15% less than the average for all events. 

We found no correlation between price and brand prominence. However, exclusivity stands out as the driver for higher pricing, with attendees investing in can’t-get-anywhere-else experiences. 

Keeping this data in mind, event leaders should incorporate these insights and trends into their pricing strategy. Utilize the following five considerations to refine your approach. 

Top Five Considerations for Pricing Success

  1. Understand the Market
    What audience are you competing for? What other events are taking place that week, and where? Research and analyze other events in your industry or niche while considering the timing and location of your event. Take note of your competitors' pricing, the value they offer, and the experience they provide to determine your unique selling proposition.

  2. Encourage Early Registration with a First Movers Rate
    Current trend lines prove that 33% of attendees wait until just three weeks before the event to commit, leaving many event pros biting their nails. Getting those early registrations helps planners manage budgets, build event buzz, and prep logistical details. Prioritize marketing early registration rates, and rely on networks of social proof to get more registrants earlier. Instead of marketing a discounted price as an "early bird" rate, position it as a "first movers" rate to create a fresh perception of the value of attending.

  3. Optimize Your Discount Strategy Through Personas
    Create personas based on a comprehensive understanding of your attendees’ demographics, attitudes, actions, and values. By customizing your pricing to cater to these personas' specific needs and preferences, you maximize attendance, engagement, and overall satisfaction. Consider audience segments like: 

    Students, Young Professionals, and Educators: A group focused on learning and career development 
    — Underrepresented Communities: Individuals who may face economic or social barriers and benefit from accessible pricing 
    — Diverse Ability Groups: Individuals belonging to a protected class, including veterans and those with disabilities 

    For inspiration on meaningful persona strategies, see Microsoft’s Partner Pass Initiative and Collision’s Community Partner Engagement.
  4. Be Realistic with Economic Realities
    Economic factors influence event attendance. It may be tempting to lower your conference prices during economic downturns, but be careful not to undervalue your event. As a good practice, adjust your ticket price to follow the average rate of inflation to offset rising costs and remain competitive.
  5. Optimize In-person to Provide Maximum Value
    Survey says
    that attendees’ priorities have shifted to make the most of in-person opportunities. In 2024, attendees of all types—executives and individual contributors—will value training and connection over everything else. Exclusive, hands-on demonstrations, human-to-human connection, and skill-practice opportunities will be vital in determining whether people choose to attend. Consider investing in exclusive offsite experiences and cool talent to drive the FOMO factor. 

Big Idea

When creating a pricing strategy, consider the current market, competition, and economy to ensure your price tag is realistic, competitive, and compelling.

Interested in digging deeper into the data? Our Intelligence team explored pricing trends by destination and time of year. For custom pricing research that will inform revenue and ticket sales strategies for your next event, drop us a line

*Reported on September 19, 2023

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