Winning Strategies for Festival Ticket Sales

27 Feb 2023Festivals

Organising a festival is a complex and lengthy undertaking. One of the most critical factors in the success of any festival is ticket sales, and while a fantastic line-up of performers and unique experiences can help attract attendees, sometimes it's not enough on its own. This is where incentives and promotions come in; incentives and promotions can be a game-changer in boosting ticket sales, driving early-bird tickets, and building excitement and anticipation. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the importance of incentives and promotions in boosting festival ticket sales and explore the most effective ideas and strategies for utilising them!

The Brighton Fringe Festival reported that early bird ticket sales accounted for 23% of all ticket sales for the festival. In a survey by Eventbrite, 75% of attendees said that discounts or early bird pricing influenced their decision to attend an arts event. Early bird ticketing is, overall, a brilliant incentive.

Early Bird Discounts

Early bird tickets are promotional offers used as an incentive for customers to purchase tickets before the majority at a reduced price. By offering a limited amount of cheaper tickets, you can generate excitement and buzz around your festival, provide an initial cash flow, and accurately predict attendance numbers.

It's easy to say, but you may be thinking to yourself, how do I set up early bird discounts? It's simple, just follow our easy 5 step guide outlining what you need to do and how it will benefit your festival:

  • Determine the ticket price - finalise prices for your standard tickets and set early bird prices accordingly with enough of a price reduction to produce an incentive. We recommend either 10%-20% but if you can afford it without impacting the revenue of your festival, 30%-40% is an even better incentive.
  • Set the deadline - decide when to cut off early bird tickets, it could be at a certain date close to the festival or when a certain number of early bird tickets are sold, completely your choice!
  • Set up the ticketing system - Now, this is where we come in. Set your festival up with our online ticketing platform and start selling your early bird tickets! You can customise your ticket details and options with an almost infinite amount of detail. Set prices based on audience, exclusivity, who is placing the order, date of purchase, voucher code used, number of tickets bought and whatever other requirements you want.
  • Promote the early bird discount - Using social media, emails, your website or any other engagement, let your potential festival-goers know early bird tickets are on sale! Maybe even encourage them to share on their own social media when they've purchased early bird tickets, and re-share onto the festivals story to boost promotion.

Monitor sales - Keep track of ticket sales and adjust your promotion if necessary. If sales are slow, consider extending the early bird discount deadline, upping the promotion of your festival, or offering additional promotions to entice potential attendees.

Group Discounts

Group discounts are a promotional pricing strategy that can be used by festivals to encourage a larger number of tickets to be bought by a group of people. These discounts usually offer a reduced price per ticket when purchased in a larger quantity. The basic idea is to create a win-win situation where both the festival and the attendees benefit from the lower prices. Again, here is a simple 6-step guide to setting up group discounts for your festival!

  • Determine the discount amount - Like with early bird discounts, the first step with group discounts is to decide their pricing. Make sure to consider the potential impact on revenue and profitability when deciding. We recommend between 10%-20% off.
  • Set a minimum number of tickets - This is where we start to differ from early bird ticketing. Decide on the minimum number of tickets needed in a sale to qualify for a group discount.
  • Promote the group discount - Just like early bird tickets, let people know the group discount exists!! Create a campaign to market the group discount, utilising the benefits of both you and your attendees usage of social media, email marketing and paid advertising to reach as many potential attendees as possible!
  • Track and monitor sales - Make sure you're keeping an eye on how the sales are going so you can review and adjust them as necessary.
  • Manage group purchases - Provide a designated person from your team to run the discounts, that can be the main point of call for the group leaders. Maybe even set up a specific website for group purchases to make it easier.
  • Ensure customer satisfaction - Ensure you're providing excellent customer service, people often tend to get confused by group discounts - whether it applies to the total sum or individual tickets and so on. So make sure you have someone available to answer queries and that your information and instructions are clear.

There are so many examples of festivals that utilise group discounts as incredibly effective incentives. The Glastonbury Festival in the UK offers a "Coach and Ticket" package, which includes a discounted rate for group travel to the festival, and in a survey conducted by Eventbrite, 67% of festival-goers said that group discounts influenced their decision to attend a festival. Group ticketing clearly matters to your customers.

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are designed to reward and retain loyal festival-goers who religiously attend your festival year after year. Loyalty programs can take many forms, including discounts on ticket prices, early access to ticket sales, exclusive merchandise, and VIP access to festival amenities such as wifi, or unlimited showers.

Festival loyalty programs can help increase customer retention and repeat purchases, while also promoting customer engagement and brand loyalty. By providing additional value to loyal customers, festivals can create a sense of community among attendees. Loyalty programs can also help festivals collect valuable data on their customers' preferences and behaviours, which can be used to improve marketing strategies and event planning. Again, follow our 6-step guide to setting up a loyalty programme:

  • Determine the goals and objectives of the program - What do you want to achieve with your loyalty program? For example, do you want to encourage repeat ticket purchases or increase the number of attendees?
  • Define the rewards - Decide on the rewards you will offer to your loyal attendees. Consider rewards such as discounted ticket prices, early access to ticket sales, VIP access to festival amenities or exclusive merchandise.
  • Set the eligibility criteria - Determine the criteria for the program. Will loyalty members be required to have attend a certain number of festivals or purchase a certain amount of tickets to qualify?
  • Promote the loyalty program - Promote the loyalty program through various channels, like social media, email marketing, and on the festival website. Consider using targeted messaging to reach your most loyal customers, and consider whether they are all based in a particular community or demographic.
  • Track and monitor customer activity - Determine your programme's effectiveness through monitoring the data coming in and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Ensure customer satisfaction - Provide excellent customer service and ensure that the loyalty program is easy to understand and use. Offer clear instructions and contact information for customers who need assistance.

There are so many examples of Loyalty Programs massively succeeding, such as Glastonbury Festival. They offer a loyalty scheme where fans who have attended the festival five times or more can purchase tickets before the general sale. While Tomorrowland offers a loyalty program called "Global Journey" that allows fans to purchase tickets in advance, get access to exclusive pre-sale, and enjoy additional benefits like VIP upgrades and special event invitations.

Bundle Deals

A bundle deal is a type of pricing strategy that festival organisers can use to offer a package of tickets or services at a discounted price. Essentially, it's a way for attendees to get more for their money by purchasing multiple items or services together.

In the context of festivals, bundle deals often include combinations of tickets, camping passes, parking passes, merchandise, and other festival-related services. For example, a bundle deal might include a weekend pass, a camping pass, and a festival t-shirt, all for a discounted price compared to purchasing each item separately.

Liking the sound of bundle deals? Take a look at our 5-step plan to setting up bundle deals for your festival.

  • Identify the items or services - Decide on which items or services you'd like to bundle. We recommend you consider which items are most popular and which are likely to be bought together anyway, its all about making like easier for your attendees so they buy the bundles!
  • Determine the discount - Your discount (we recommend) should be between 10%-20%. Remember to consider the cost of the individual items or services, as well as any additional costs associated with packaging or delivery.
  • Create the bundle - Get your bundle out into the world! You could create a new ticket type, add on an option to purchase additional items or services during the checkout process, or create a special package deal.
  • Market the bundle deal - Make the most of social media, email campaigns, and festival websites when marketing your bundle, and perhaps consider creating eye-catching graphics or videos to showcase the bundle deal and its benefits.
  • Monitor and adjust - Keep track of the sales and engagement of the bundle deal campaign, and adjust the campaign as needed to optimise performance!

Again, here are some examples of festivals you may have heard of, utilising bundle deals! Glastonbury offers bundle deals where attendees can purchase festival tickets along with travel packages, glamping accommodation, and merchandise at discounted rates. While Reading and Leeds Festivals offer bundle deals where attendees can purchase tickets for both festivals at a discounted price as well as bundle deals on tickets, accommodation, and shuttle services. And Latitude festival offers bundle deals on tickets, camping, and parking alongside a family bundle deal that includes tickets for two adults and two children, as well as access to a family camping area.

Referral Programs

What is a referral program, I hear you ask? Referral programs are simple; they're marketing strategies that can be used to incentivize referrals of new attendees to their festivals. You may have heard of referral programs as "refer-a-friend programs" or "word-of-mouth marketing".

Business (in this case festivals) rewards their existing customers or employees for referring others to their products or services. The referred customer or talent may also receive a benefit, such as a discount or bonus, for being referred.

Referral programs can be an effective way to grow a customer base or attract new people, as individuals are more likely to trust recommendations from friends or colleagues than traditional advertising. Additionally, referral programs can lead to higher customer loyalty and engagement, as well as lower customer acquisition costs.

Here is our 5-step path to setting up your own referral programme!

  • Identify the referral reward - What is it you are going to reward your existing attendees with? This could be a discount on tickets, free festival merchandise, or exclusive access to festival events or experiences.
  • Create a referral system - Decide how attendees will be able to refer others to the festival. This could involve creating a unique referral link or code that attendees can share with their friends and family, or creating a special landing page that tracks referrals.
  • Promote the referral program - This step is always the same - just get the word out! Use social media, email campaigns, festival websites and videos, just make sure they're eye-catching!
  • Track referrals - As always, make sure you know what's going on and that your plan is having the impact you wanted. Why not involve a referral tracking software to keep checking over everything or manually tracking referrals through a spreadsheet? And if it's not having the desired impact, it might be time to re-evaluate and make some adjustments...
  • Reward attendees! - Once an attendee has referred in a new customer, reward the attendee with what was promised. Make sure to communicate clearly with attendees about when and how they will receive their rewards

Boomtown Fair has a very successful referral programme, they offer a system where existing ticket holders can earn rewards for referring friends to buy tickets. The rewards include VIP upgrades, backstage access, and even a chance to win a free ticket to the festival.

In Summary

Just remember, incentives and promotions are a fantastic way to boost ticket sales; whether that's through the use of Early Bird Tickets, Group Discounts, Loyalty Programmes, Bundle Deals or Referral Programs, just start using them to boost your ticket sales! We'd love to continue to help you along this journey! Why not take a look at our website for more information on how we could help you? Our team would love to hear from you. Why not give us a call or book a demonstration of our website? Please do get in touch.