Event ticket pricing: Pay What You Wish

This project will examine best practice for inclusive ticket pricing for Campfire events

You are here

by Kimm Fearnley
Bournemouth, Bournemouth, United Kingdom,
Created on 7 Nov 2016

This project has been set up to gather information into existing pay as you wish systems and other ticket pricing options for Campfire Convention events to enable those who may find the ticket cost prohibitive



Mon, 11/07/2016
Key Interests

Wikipedia:Pay What you wish




Tim Regester

At the Quay theatre we have run several events as Pay what you want.

Our experiences have been decidedly mixed. Some events have been a roaring success such as Lewis Schaffer and his "Free until famous" comedy show, while others have been loss making such as Improv Drama and first run new Drama.

I think people get the concept ok and those on limited incomes find it beneficial as they normally cannot afford ticket prices but the downsides of no actual pre-sales and funding prior to the event and the fact that getting people to book PWYW events is difficult as they consider attendance optional, prompting a larger proportion of on the night walk-ups makes resource planning a mare.


Kimm Fearnley

Thank you Tim - all excellent advice and good points which need to be taken into account. X


Michelle Spriddell

We have tried this on a localised online platform for advertising spaces - the 'success' has so many variables -
Key questions identified for us were:
What is the reference point the person has already in their mind... (expectations based on previous experiences) ?
What is their existing budget or not as is often the case..... ?
Will they be judged? It is easier to give less if it is anonymous - We found because we knew the people and already had face to face contact - some people backed away a little from the concept as they didn't want to be seen as not paying enough for what we were offering... this lead us to provide a suggested amount which of course loops it back through the questions again...

warning - The rest below is me throwing out ideas and thoughts - hopefully with a view for anyone with admin/mathematical brain to rip apart and rebuild....

The key starting point is to define what would be a success.... knowing the amount to cover the costs and allow for a bit extra to have ready for emergencies and the next event....
Maybe within the campfire community the transparency of we need £x to cover the costs and take it all forward to the next level.... so our suggested price is £YY - based on x people attending - however, you can pay below or above this -
Maybe this would help people feel comfortable with what they paid whether above or below??

Then providing easy ways to pay this amount and possibly more -
e.g. so donations towards their ticket could be made repeatedly whenever they feel they have the money or as a one off fee - maybe they can choose a slightly higher monthly membership fee to cover all future tickets.

As long as that option to donate is visible on the site it would act as a prompt - campfire members would agree to being reminded on lead up to dates about making any additional payments - without obligation.

or everyone pays set amount unless they can provide services or hours or regular activity on the site in exchange

or another idea - which i am not quite sure about but it may be a start for someone with a mathematical head to take further..... is :
tickets are charged at £x paid upfront (higher than ideal amount) but based on a certain amount of people attending - if more people attend --the £x is reduced accordingly (never allowing it to fall below the ideal) and after the event people can choose to: i) request a refund ii) allocate the amount towards the next ticket or iii) donate to campfire or one of the good causes within Campfire.

will leave it with you xxx


Kimm Fearnley

Michelle thank you so much for this very useful contribution. All very helpful indeed and much to think about. I will be back in touch. X


Dave Atkin

I am not acquainted with any aspects of this system, although I would be keen to see it put in place for CC. What concerns me in this process is that any wording or reference to lower price tickets is not used in such a way as to suggest that the receiver is somehow receiving benefit which may affect the future ability of CC to survive, or which is a benefit not open to all, or that they should feel obliged to volunteer services. I raise this because I found that some of the wording around the planning for CC#001 insinuated through its use of language that, whilst others were prepared to buy a ticket AND volunteer for duties , it was acceptable, if not following the desired aims of CC, to forgo payment for a ticket when volunteering. Difficult to convey accurately but what I read certainly made me feel a bit of a cheapskate even though I was giving time, money (York to Hereford ain't cheap), ability, knowledge,, teamwork etc. My objection to paying AND volunteering comes from the view of a small promoter; when I put on an event, if I said to the bar staff, door staff, ticket staff "You need to pay to get in" they would tell me to fluff off, or some words of equal brevity. If an event cannot cover cost without charging its team it has failed, just like a business which cannot exist without underpaying its employees. OK I accept the first year is probably to be exempted but this decision to ask volunteers to pay came to my eyes as some kind of edict, not as it actually was (I was unable to attend the Circle which made the decision), which didn't help.
Anyway, in a nutshell, I wanted to ask you to ensure care with the language used around this matter; it can be all too easy to sound complacent and ignorant of other's needs. I know this issue is on your horizon so I hope you don't think I'm trying to tell you how to do this. Regards, Dave.