Planning a conference involves many steps, from content to technical aspects. One of these steps leads towards defining a crucial decision: how to price your conference.
Discussions can go in many directions, but if the price is too small and doesn’t clear the costs, your conference will make losses. If the price is too high, you risk attracting lower attendance.
In short, the price of your conference should be low enough to attract attendees but high enough to reflect the value of the content and not compromise the fixed and variable costs of your conference.
Before reaching a final decision, conference organizers must be aware of the main factors affecting pricing calculations.
Table of Contents
4 factors that affect conference price
Types of conference pricing strategies
How to price your conference based on its value
On-site conference costs are mainly related to the venue, equipment and catering.
The selection of an event venue is strongly affected by knowing what the rental includes. It makes a significant difference knowing if the venue charges additional amounts for audio-visual equipment on top of the venue rental fee, whether the venue provides conference furniture (i.e., tables, chairs, podiums), or if these items have to be rented separately. Knowing this factor helps to know how to price your conference, as the costs can double if you have parallel lines in the budget.
Before organizing a conference, you must know if the chosen venue can provide in-house catering and refreshments (e.g., costs included in the rental value). If so, this factor significantly affects how to price your event. If not, organizers must contact various suppliers, asking for at least three quotes for comparison.
If you consider using professional conference software, ensure you understand what event technology features are included. Platforms such as run.events provide features from speaker management, hotel accommodation, ticketing, registrations, payments, and abstract submissions. These features offer the unique benefit of an all-in-one solution with various tools built to work together, which means you avoid having to pay separate fees to multiple vendors. It helps make the challenge of organizing a conference a bit easier and cheaper.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, on-site conferences are definitely back. However, most organizers are obliged to provide a virtual experience (hybrid events) for those who want to continue to participate from the safety of their homes. Forward-thinking conference organizers should constantly keep an eye on technology offering streaming services with basic tools for live streaming and advanced networking solutions to satisfy the different expectations of target groups.
Event organizers can choose between these four pricing strategies depending on the conference scale and topic complexity.
1) Retail pricing - This is the most basic approach where you calculate expenses and profit margins and divide the sum by the lowest projected attendance figure. It demands accuracy. Otherwise, it can be easily misleading on how to price your conference.
2) Market pricing - This approach can be favorable if you have information that can accurately assume what your target attendee group can afford. It is the opposite of the retail approach since it begins by setting the price of admission and then works backward to build the conference within the budget.
3) Limited access pricing - This model offers multiple features and benefits to those who pay more. Conference tickets are segmented into levels (i.e., basic, VIP, premium), bringing additional value. Success comes from creating enough value at each ticket level to generate sufficient demand.
4) Many organizers use a cost-plus strategy when perceiving value becomes essential for success. Value-based pricing is one of the most comprehensive strategies available on how to price your conference, but it requires a lot of advanced understanding and research. Often, it can help generate the best return from your event. The next chapter will discuss how to use its benefits accurately.
Three key components contribute to how to price your conference: perceived value, actual price and cost per ticket.
Perceived value is the value customers think they will get from the conference. The actual price is what the customer pays, which can be more or less than the perceived value. Organizers want to make the actual price as close to the perceived value as possible. The last component is the actual cost per ticket. These three components give you a full picture of your event.
In the value-based pricing model, conference attendees compare perceived value and price, while event organizers use cost per ticket to determine the baseline price. In short, if the attendees’ perceived value is higher than the ticket price, then attendees will decide to purchase a ticket and if the cost per ticket is lower than that price, the organizer makes money.
Value-based pricing is all about getting into the head of your attendees. Its complexity demands that you look at other events your customers might choose to attend. This can give conference organizers a sense of what their customers expect to pay. A good place to start is determining how many different ticket types you are going to offer to your audience.
There is no clear answer on how to price your conference, but considering multiple factors while using one of the models above can help organizers set a reasonable price to encourage registrations and meet their financial expectations.