Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 03 2016

Could An Alternative Pricing Structure Apply To Your Registration Fees?

David McMillin


When it’s time to register for a convention or a conference, most attendees have a limited number of options: one price if they sign up before a cutoff date and another price anytime after that magical date. At some conferences, registration may be divided among some other basic categories such as buyers, suppliers and students. However, whatever the price tag may be, it typically includes access to the same conference experience.

What if all conference experiences weren’t created equal? What if business events organizers embraced an approach similar to the larger travel industry? Instead of simply using price to appeal to prospective attendees, what if organizations explored the larger concept of value to offer a more comprehensive cost structure?

10416-davidarticle3Image courtesy of Skift

This idea was inspired by Robert Albert, CEO, Routehappy. Albert spoke at the 2016 Skift Global Forum in New York City on September 27, and he outlined one of the big misconceptions that ruled the airline industry for a long time: that passengers are only concerned with cost.

“Our industry has been ruled a false belief that the only thing that matters is price,” Albert said. “But if that was true, we’d all be flying Spirit.”

Of course, we aren’t — at least, I’m not flying Spirit. Instead, I’m concerned with other amenities, and Albert believes that the majority of passengers are in the same bucket. They want to understand which flights have the fastest Wi-Fi, the best seats available, the best food, the best entertainment options and more. Now, plenty of airlines are embracing an approach that helps passengers understand what they’re purchasing. From outlining how many of inches of legroom certain seats offer to focusing on meal options for foodies to serving free beer and wine to everyone (here’s looking at you, Porter Airlines), airlines show off their amenities before passengers book their tickets.

So what could this mean for conference registration? Well, consider how many additional perks you might be able to offer for additional value — and additional revenue. Instead of simply satisfying attendee dietary restrictions, could a Platinum Experience include the ability for attendees to pick what they want for lunch and dinner on the day of the conference? Or what if it delivers the opportunity to meet a high-profile keynote speaker? How about guaranteeing seating at every session so that the highest-paying tier of attendees never go to the overflow room?

I realize all these changes require more work. However, in a time defined by personalization, it seems like this kind of approach could appeal to a number of attendees who are looking to do more than click the register button; they want to know that they’ll be receiving loads of benefits once they arrive. What do you think? Could a value-based pricing program work at your conference? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts.

On another note, next time you’re booking a long-haul flight for your work in the convention industry, I recommend using Albert’s comparison tool to know more before you book. Check it out here.

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