Are you pricing your event completely out of the grasp of your audience? Ticket prices for just about every event on the planet have been skyrocketing lately and it begs the question of whether your event has set a price for admission that is simply not affordable for the majority of your audience. Paying close attention to the determinants of ticket affordability within your event’s market segment and industry can make the difference between a sell out and a bust.

$721.86 to freeze while watching Broncos vs. Patriots

When it comes to pricy tickets, the NFL has to be ranked right up there with billionaire sports such as polo and yacht racing. It is completely unbelievable that the New England Patriots last year were able to charge an average of $523.33 to sit on a rock hard seat shivering from the frigid breezes wailing in from the Neponset Reservoir. However, individual games can even beat that expensive average with the contest on November 24, 2013 with their quarterback’s primary nemesis with the Denver Broncos hit an average of $721.86! It’s truly hard to believe that fans would spend the equivalent amount that would buy a brand new 55” flatscreen TV through which they could enjoy that game (and years of more games) in the warmth and comfort of their living rooms or man caves, but that’s the nature of the rabid NFL fan. Let’s not even discuss that the average ticket price for the next Super Bowl is expected to be approximately equivalent to five of those 55” flatscreens!

Christine McVie back with Fleetwood Mac at MSG = $1,281

Granted, the average price of a ticket to see the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Tour is very close to Broncos vs. Patriots levels at an eye-watering $624, but given that it very well may be the Stones’ hard core fan’s last chance to personally see his mummified heroes before they crumble into dust at the bottom of the crypt it could be borderline justifiable. Similarly, the cost to see Fleetwood Mac in their most popular incarnation with the return of long-missing songstress Christine McVie at Madison Square Garden averaged $1,281 per ticket… but again it is very likely the last time in history something like that is ever going to happen.

It costs way more to watch the Bills in Toronto than Buffalo

Location, location, location is not only the prime determinant in real estate valuation but also in event pricing. Noted wealthy cities such as Toronto are generally ravaged by event promoters in setting high ticket prices. The cost to watch the Buffalo Bills play in Rogers Centre is several times higher than watching them at Ralph Wilson Stadium barely 90 minutes drive away, and their NBA Raptors team has the highest playoff ticket price in the league. However, also not far from Toronto is Cleveland where the matchup between the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and hometown Browns on December 1, 2013 was only able to average $64.90 per ticket. To put that into perspective you could take a family of 11 people (with money left over) to watch Jags vs. Browns for the cost of one person attending Broncos vs. Pats.

Chances are that your event’s audience is not quite a sanguine as a Patriots, Stones, or Fleetwood Mac fan so they’re going to take a hard second look at your ticket pricing an if they are deemed to be unaffordable or just insufficient value for their entertainment or educational dollar, they’re going to pass on attending it. The general guidelines for the various types of events include:

  • Theatrical Event: $150 to $275 for best seats, $90 to 150 for others
  • Concert Event: $175 and up for best seats, $85 to $150 for average seats, and $65 to $100 for general admission
  • Sporting Event: This all depends on type. You’re going to be able to easily charge $300 for a hot major league event but you’d be hard pressed to get $15 for an amateur sports match.

If you’re able to adjust your ticket pricing to all of your audience’s characteristics you’ll produce a successful event!