DavidB, on Oct 20 2008, 10:19 PM, said:
I would not agree that early bookers should get in first. They're paying the same as everyone else, and I wouldn't expect others to get preferential treatment just because they booked before me really.
Technically the early bookers are paying more. If you book and pay for an event six months ahead, you no longer have that money; if you wait until the day to pay, you've had six months where you could be earning interest on that money (or using it to keep your overdraft and its interest charges down
:-) ) Granted six months' interest on £78 isn't a huge amount, but it is an amount. And arguably SM/ME may benefit by a similar amount.
DavidB, on Oct 20 2008, 10:19 PM, said:
As for jessanne's question "what incentive is there to buy tickets early?" - nothing in particular, and I don't really see why there should be. More tickets sold, the more guests they get. And at least you're guaranteed attendance at the convention. A lot of people can't book straight away, but I don't see why they should be treated any differently.
I think people who book early are doing SM a huge favour. Sure, they're also guaranteeing their own attendance, but they are committing to an event early on. This means several things. As well as paying out upfront (at a financial cost, as mentioned above), they are also tying themselves into the event; given the non-refundable nature of tickets they're turning down the opportunity to do something else that weekend earlier, no matter what happens. Suppose that weekend also turns out to be a family christening, or funeral, or maybe something they like even more than the con gets announced? Those people that have booked in advance are either going to have to decline the other event, or take a hit by not going to a con they've paid for. They're giving up a bit of freedom and choice by buying early.
They're also providing both certainty of numbers and cashflow for the event. This is very highly prized; as somebody said, suppose nobody booked until a fortnight beforehand? The answer that you're just doing yourself a favour by allowing them to book more or better guests doesn't really wash, because you're also doing that favour for everybody else who goes, including those who decide to book later.
Certainty of numbers makes planning easier; if you start out having sold 300 tickets straight away, you know that you can plan for an event of at least that size, and probably larger. You know that the size of your event will be between 300 and 800 (if that's the limit) and that sets your thinking and planning on a certain level. If you only start off with 25 tickets being sold, then your final numbers will be between 25 and 800. Whilst that probably wouldn't make any difference in the long run, you'll have to worry for a number of weeks about suppose your final numbers are only 150? You can't plan for a really big show until you're confident of numbers; if you're confident early on that you'll have at least 500 folk coming, you can plan for that from early on. If you spend months with only a few tickets sold, you can only really plan for a small to medium size show, and then if you sell a lot of tickets in the last 2 or 3 weeks before the show, you have to upscale things very quickly, which can be inconvenient and lead to problems. Of course, some of this stuff is readily scalable anyway, and I'm sure experienced operators like Jason can "turn up the gas" at short notice, if need be. However, if SM/ME were organising a convention for six months time, I bet their work would be far easier if they sold say 300 tickets straight off, another 200 in the next six weeks, and then continued to sell steadily thereon, than if they sold 25 straight away and another 100 over the next five months, then 550 about 3 weeks before the show. Granted, sales patterns are unlikely to be so skewed, but surely early sales must help them plan. (Early sales probably also help sales generally; if tickets are selling fast, other people are likelier to buy early, both because healthy sales increase confidence in an event, and because people want to make sure that they can get a ticket, so act sooner.)
Early booking also provides cashflow, a huge advantage. Not only does this give you money upfront to pay for stuff that needs to be paid for, it also gives you a chance to buy things sooner which may work out cheaper (e.g. airline tickets), or to arrange things sooner that may need advance payment - if there are things that need to be booked and paid for in advance, being able to do that sooner means its one less thing that needs to be sorted in the last few weeks when time may be tight.
I would have thought that advance booking would be hugely beneficial to SM, and would have thought they would want to do more to encourage it. Certainly it seems a common business practice to do so; any number of conferences and seminars that I see advertised at work have discounts for booking early; sometimes as much as 10%. Similarly, look at rock festivals (apart from those like Glastonbury or Reading that are bound to sell out anyway); many of them have ticket prices that are cheaper if you book before a certain date in advance. (In a similar way it's also common for gigs to charge more "on the door" than in advance, for the same sorts of reasons).
Sales for this event started a little over six months ago, in the middle of April. If you repriced the standard £78 ticket at £72 for orders placed by 31st May, £76 for orders placed by 31st August, and £80 for orders placed after that date, perhaps nearly the same level of income would be generated, but people would have an incentive to book earlier.
This would both be an answer to the question of "what is the point of booking early?" and for those that would say "it's not fair we can't afford to book now", it could be pointed out that those paying earlier are in effect only being compensated for loss of interest on their money and receiving a thanks for supporting the event early and helping to make booking guests easier. It would also be not so large incentive as to cause people to moan endlessly that they couldn't get the money together in time for a deadline, or their internet access failed on the last day at one price rate, or they couldn't guarantee booking the time off work that far in advance, or that they just didn't want to commit so soon... or am I just thinking wishfully? I'd like to think that this sort of pricing differential would be enough to make people think about booking earlier, but not big enough to engender endless bleating by those who ended up paying a bit more.
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